"If only this quilt could talk."
Imagine you're browsing around a random garage sale when out of the corner of your eye, something unexpected grabs your attention. It feels familiar and upon closer inspection you recognize it as having once belonged to a family member who passed or, as in the case of this antique friendship quilt, to more than one deceased relative.
Seemingly small find at garage sale turns out to be priceless
A fabric and thread garage sale find has turned into a precious gift for a family living in Saltillo, Arkansas. Last summer, Kim Shock and her mother Debbie Kelley were poking around at a garage sale in Vilonia when Shock noticed an old red and white quilt laying in a carport with the name Lessie Martin written on one of its squares. She recognized it as the name of her great-great aunt.
“I knew I had heard that name,” Shock said. “I also knew she had died when I was 10 or 11.”
They had stumbled on a friendship quilt that possibly had been quilted by more than one relative. The two walked away tickled to purchase the quilt for a bargain price of $7.50.
“We could hardly wait to get out of there with it,” Shock said. “I can’t tell you how excited we were.“
The plan was to give the quilt to Shock’s grandmother Christine Kelley, who has lived her entire life in the Saltillo community. They hoped it would spur some memories and possibly cheer “grandma” up a bit following the death of “grandpa” Bud Kelley. Shock’s grandparents had been married 61 years prior to his death only a few months before.
Apparently, the quilt, despite a few tattered edges and torn blocks, was an instant hit.
“She teared up as she looked at it,” Shock described her grandmother’s immediate reaction. “We knew right away that the friendship quilt was a precious remembrance for her.”
Since that day, it has been spread on one of Kelley’s beds.
Kelley recognized most every name. Many are the names of passed relatives or neighbors and a couple she had just heard the name. Fumbling with several blocks, Kelley read out loud a few of the names pausing to share some history. Gustie Kelley, she said, is her aunt, her dad’s sister. Also, Lessie Martin is her aunt, married to her dad’s brother.
“I was a Martin,” she said.
She read the name Maggie Walls who, she said, “married grandpa Walls’ brother,” as well she read the name of her “momma’s sister” Ella Graham.
“I was always close to her,” Kelley recalled.
Other names on the quilt included Emily Landers, Cordie Martin, Minnie Brannon and Grace Newman who she said “was raised around here and her son has that plantation at Scott,” as well as Delia Vestal “who lived just over the hill.“ Also, she recognized the name of Thelma Bowlding, a teacher and some of the names as being members of the Oak Bowery Baptist Church including Millie Jones, one of the first piano players there.
“The one that really took my eye though was this one here — Aiddie Paty,” Kelley pointed to a block. “It says she was 70, and it was done in 1930. That’s the year I was born. I will be 80 in May, so I’m guessing this quilt is 80 years old.”
While the story could end here, it doesn’t.
Shock, who works at Vilonia Elementary School, recognized a student from the school at the garage sale. Feeling very lucky to find the quilt and getting it at such a bargain price, Shock said, she decided to send a thank-you note home with the student sharing her family’s story with his parents, the former owners. She also inquired into the quilt's history.
It wasn’t long until she received a letter back from the “Baker family.” The student’s mother, Donna, wrote in the note back to Shock, that she had been in possession of the quilt for many years. So many, in fact, she doesn’t remember exactly where it came from. However, she said, she believed that it may have been purchased at an auction in Oklahoma. She explained that she generally doesn’t sell anything old because she collects antiques but decided for some reason to part with the friendship quilt as well as another quilt that Shock didn’t see.
Included with note back to Shock was $8 saying the friendship quilt was now a gift to Shock’s family from the Baker family. Also, the writer said she hoped that the quilt would continue to bring many more smiles to Kelley’s face.
“If only this quilt could talk, no telling where all it has been and no telling how it got there and back here where it was put together,” Shock said. “But, it’s here to stay now. When grandma gets through using it, the quilt will have a special place in my house.”
— Happy Garage Saling!
Have you ever found an heirloom like this friendship quilt at a garage sale that belonged to you or that you returned to the original owner? Please tell us your story in the comments below!
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More about signature friendship quilting:
- Friendship Quilts: Precious Remembrance (womenfolk.com)
- Friendship Quilts (sentimentalquilter.blogspot.com)
- History of Friendship Quilts (worldquilts.com)
- Friendship Signature Quilt Top, Signed and Dated, 1910 - 1916 (antiquequiltdating.com)
- Researching Friendship Quilts (karenquilt.com)
- Quilt Class 101 - Friendship Star Block Tutorial (chasingcottons.blogspot.com)
- FREE Friendship Star quilt block pattern (generations-quilt-patterns.com)
More quilts and quilting - Oklahoma:
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