Monday, September 14, 2009

A Tour of the Itawamba Historical Society Facilities in Mantachie: Part 3

Editor's Note: Terry Thornton, a member of the society's board of directors, will be giving a tour of the society's facilities in Mantachie over the next several days through text and photographs. Below is part three of his tour.

One of the most interesting artifacts I found at the Bonds House Museum was a Friendship Quilt from the early 1930s. That quilt brought back memories of numerous ones I recall my mother and my classmates' mothers making as fund-raisers when I attended Hatley Elementary School in nearby Monroe County in the 1940s.

At Hatley School, a quilt block pattern would be sent home to each student's mother who would piece together one quilt square from her fabric scraps and add names or other embellishments. The squares would be gathered up and sewn together to make a quilt top and the quilt top assembled with a batting of carded cotton and a lining. The quilt would be placed into a quilt frame and whoever was in charge of the friendship project would call a quilting bee. Numerous hands would then quilt the top, batting, and lining together using tiny delicate quilting stitches that were most often arranged in amazing geometric patterns. When the entire quilt was quilted, the raw edges were bound with a binding material, usually thin strips of bias cut fabric which matched the top. When finished the quilt would be raffled off and the proceeds used in a well-received fund-raiser for the school.

Such activities were also done to raise money for church projects or for other community projects.

But the Friendship Quilt at the Bonds House Museum is more than just an example of this genre of quilts --- it is a historical document. The museum's quilt was made in the 1930s by members of the Mantachie Methodist Episcopal Church South. For ten cents, residents could pay to have their name embroidered into the quilt which was raffled off. Funds were raised in two ways --- the selling of chances to win the quilt and by the ten-cents-per name charge for those who wished to have their name on a quilt.

And in the process, the Friendship Quilt of Mantachie is a historical document of names written in embroidery on cotton fabric of numerous local residents from about eighty years ago. Below are photographs of a section of the quilt followed by a close-up picture of one of the quilt squares.

I did a quick census search for the six names shown in the image above using the Lee-Itawamba County Library's access to Heritage Quest. Here is a summary of what I found:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Ezra Sandlin: Listed on the 1920 Itawamba County Census as living in Cardsville, Beat 3. In the household are Ezra, a farmer age 26 born in Mississippi and his wife Mary A. Sandlin age 21 born in Mississippi.

  • C.B. Camp: Could this be Charles B. Camp listed in the 1910 census of nearby Monroe County Mississippi? More research is needed rather than just a quick look for C.B. Camp.

  • A.S. Kirksey: Listed on the 1910 Mantachie Precinct on Cotton Gin and Marietta Road. In the household are A.S., farmer age 37 born Mississippi; his wife Mollie age 30; son Gordon age 10; daughter Vivian age 8; son Kermit age 6; son Elvin age 4; and daughter Burnice age 3/12ths all born in Mississippi.

  • Ronald Pearce and Ruby Pearce --- I could not sort out the Pearce family of Itawamba County using just a quick search at Heritage Quest. More research is needed.

  • Rev. A. E. Sandlin: Listed on the 1920 Cardsville Beat 3 Census of Itawamba County as Augustus E. Sandlin, farmer age 59; wife Margaret E. age 64; daughter Allie J. age 30; granddaughter Ann Nell age 8; and grandson Bradford age 6 all born in Mississippi.

I cannot image the wealth of family history this quilt can tell --- and I hope to get permission from the Itawamba Historical Society to inventory and publish all of the names on the quilt.

Friendship quilts are treasures especially when they contain so many names as the one at the Bonds House Museum.

Remember that the Bonds House Museum is located at the corner of Church Street and Museum Drive in Mantachie, Mississippi. The museum is open to the public free of charge Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

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