The Friendship Quilt

Quilting parties were still a much practiced social event for women even in the late 1940's and 1950's. When I was small, my grandmother, Ninnie McCormick, often hosted the turning out of a quilt in her home on Hillview Road in Livingston. I remember seeing the quilting frames raised near the ceiling of the living room in her home in between quilting sessions. Mrs. Kate Bilbrey’s home was another place the ladies of the neighborhood would gather to quilt.


The Friendship Quilt belonging to Mrs. Alma Ward bears names of ladies and family members from the Flatt Creek community.


I suppose there are hundreds of patterns quilts have been made by, but one particular type of quilt sometimes made was called a Friendship Quilt. Each person involved in the making of this kind of quilt stitched an individual block, all of the same pattern, and when finished, the name of that person was hand-embroidered onto that block. When all the individual blocks were finished, they were then pieced together, and later the quilt top was put into the quilting frames to be completed. I recently got to examine a Friendship Quilt made in either 1938 or 1939 by ladies who lived in the Flatt Creek area. The quilt was made for Edgar Smith, son of John Smith and wife Nancy Ward Smith, and was found in a barn owned by Mr. Smith near the old Flatt Creek church and cemetery where it had been stored in a box for many years. Edgar Smith was also a nephew of William E. Smith, husband of Helen Stonecipher Smith. Edgar did not marry until late in life. His wife’s name was Osta Ogletree Smith. The condition of the quilt and the workmanship involved in the making of it can only be described as excellent despite the fact it had been in a barn for quite a long time. The quilt belongs to Mrs. Alma (Crabtree) Ward, wife of Buck Ward. Edgar Smith and Buck Ward are cousins. Alma’s name is the very first name on the first row of the quilt. The block that has the name "Laura" was stitched by Alma’s mother, Laura Crabtree. Several names of husbands of the women involved in the making of the quilt are also included. The names of many relatives of Buck Ward are on the quilt.


This block in the Friendship Quilt bears the name of the person for whom the quilt was made, Edgar Smith.

Here are the names embroidered on each square just as they are shown on the actual quilt. Many blocks show the quilter’s first name only.

First row:


Jennie Livingston

Allie Thomas



Lucy Masters

Linda Fleming

Florence Goodpasture

Ova Bilyeu.

Second row:

Lela Livingston

Geralene Ward

Helen Ward

Florence Pate

Wheeler Ward

Dueleth Ward

Dean Spears

Ora M.

Wilford Smith

Third row:


Myrtle Masters

Zilpa L.

Wm. E. Smith

Linnie Ward

Gratice Dean


Billie Frank

Cross Fleming

Fourth row:

Josie Poston

Edgar Smith

Ella Ward

Myrtle Goodpasture



Doris Spears

Edith Maxwell

Dorothy Nell

Fifth row:

Lydia Gore


Agnes Ward


Winnie Smith

F.B. Smith

Sallie S. Burch

Zula Fleming


Sixth row:

Emma Davis


Mildred Bilyeu

Cara Nolen

Mary Goodpasture

Jennie Goodpasture

Opal Allred

Billie Ruth Bilyeu

Winnie Allred

Seventh row:

Gladys Gilpatrick


Dora Lynn

Addie Masters

Inez Smith

Mildred Goodpasture

Wilkie Thomas

Bessie Masters

Anne Day

The Flatt Creek ladies Friendship Quilt of brightly colored fabric, every stitch done by hand, is a wonderful treasure. The individual names carefully stitched on the quilt bear witness of those who once gathered so many years ago for the making of an item to be given to a neighbor, a tradition, like so many others of days gone by, that is no longer a part of everyday life in our community.

Here’s a Quilter’s Poem I thought was fitting for this story:

I've sought inspiration a quilt for to make.
There's a wide choice of patterns,
Now which should I take?

Here's Baltimore Album
And Sunbonnet Sue,
Seven Sisters, Clay's Choice
And Log Cabin too.

Anvil and Churn Dash,
Birds in the Air,
Country Crossroads,
City Square.

Broken Dishes,
Tree of Life,
LeMoyne Star,
Contrary Wife.

Mexican Star,
Pickle Dish,
Cherry Basket,

Thousand Pyramids,
Irish Chain,
True Lover's Knot,
And Airplane.

Tangled Garter,
World's Fair,
Kansas Troubles,
Windblown Square.

Also Hovering Hawks
And Flying Geese.
I really don't know what to piece!

Four-Patch, Nine-Patch,
Tumbling Blocks,
Grandmother's Fan,

There must be one.
I've not lost hope.

I've thought and thought,
I'm ready to wilt.
Eureka! I'll make a sampler quilt!