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History Corner By Pat Ross & Fran Snead


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June 01, 2017

Quilts, like numerous other items, are important parts of history. They are uniquely arranged pieces of fabric made with a top, middle and bottom woven intricately into somewhat of an historical sandwich. Just like history itself, quilts come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes are even able to tell a story. Here at the Bassett Historical Center we have such pieces - each covering their own small piece of history and purpose. The latest donation in this article prompted us to share the following information.

Among the first family memorabilia donated to the Center other than paper genealogy and history were items from the Hans Jacob Koger family. Hans Jacob Koger sailed on a ship called the Morton House with his brother from Germany arriving in Philadelphia in 1728. With him he brought a basket which, over time, was passed down through the family and eventually was given to his great granddaughter, Mary Catherine “Kitty” Koger Via, wife of James Robert Via. Kitty Koger Via was born in 1845 and was the youngest of seven children of Joseph and Ruth Slaughter Koger. Two of the quilts that Kitty made in 1858 and which were quilted with cotton grown on the Koger Farm in Patrick County have found a home here in the Center’s War Room. These quilts are displayed with other items from this collection such as deer skin riding gloves which were stitched from silk made from silk worms raised on the Koger Farm and there is also jewelry made from bone and metals which were made by three of Kitty’s brothers while they were imprisoned at Point Lookout, Maryland. The Koger Collection was donated to the Center by Ruth Fair Morris, daughter of Mary Ruth Fair and James W. Fair, and granddaughter of Kitty Koger Via and J.R. Via.

A nice group of ladies known as the “Bassett Heights Quilting Bee” would quilt in the afternoons in one of the upstairs rooms at the home of Mrs. Mattie Franklin Philpott. The quilting frame was kept up year round while the ladies quilted for their family, friends, and for those who simply needed a quilt. Members of this group in the late 1930s and 1940s were: Mrs. Philpott, her daughter, Mrs. Mary Philpott Austin, Mrs. Trudie Fulcher Grogan, Mrs. Hattie Hollandsworth, Mrs. Eliza Ruth Stone, and Mrs. Beadie Thacker. One of these quilts is now displayed in the Susan L. Adkins Memorial Meeting Room and was donated to the Center by Mrs. Mary Jane Austin Osborne who was the daughter of Mrs. Austin and granddaughter of Mrs. Philpott.

In 1976 Home Economics teacher, Mrs. Bertha Pilson Coates assigned a home project for interested students in her classes at John D. Bassett High School to make a quilting square for a Bi-Centennial Commemorative Quilt. The quilt made by the students was hand quilted by members of the Buffalo Ridge Community Club in Patrick County, of which Mrs. Coates was a member. Mrs. Coates and Mrs. Crystal Wood, an officer of the club, presented this quilt to the Bassett Historical Center to be placed on display. Students in Mrs. Coates’ classes who participated in the project and who made the quilting squares were: Elizabeth Stone, Pam Via, Penny Mabe, Lisa Johnson, Rhonda Oliver, Annette Jones, Mary Bunch, Sherry Ingram, Judy Bowman, Anita Wimbush, Sandy Pendleton, Carolyn Gravely, Debbie McKinney, Vicky Bowman, Barbara Greer, Katrina Wimbush and Leah Kenny.

At the end of last month, a lady from Indiana contacted the Center about a “Friendship Quilt” that she had found in the house of one of her great great aunts in Memphis. A friendship quilt is made by friends, classmates, relatives, co-workers, people within a type of group or network to honor this relationship. This particular quilt is dated October 14, 1938 and was owned by Montgomery Hemphill Johnston, and later her daughter, Julia Clara Bell, of Louisville, later of Meridian, Mississippi. Looking at the names on the quilt, she was at a crossroads. She had found our website and thought that we might be able to make this quilt a home since there are eleven names stitched in the quilt and marked Bassett, Virginia. The names on the quilt from Bassett, Virginia are: Mrs. Etta Franklin, Mrs. Gertrude Philpott, Mrs. Margaret Wanny, Mrs. Rose Williams, Miss Georgia Elliott, Miss Marie Bolnart, Mrs. Bob Martin, Mrs. Anna Stafford, Mrs. Ossie Riddle, Mrs. Mary Koger, and Mrs. Tom Hawkins. The twelfth name on the quilt is Mrs. Melma Laurent from St. Louis, Missouri. We have identified most of these ladies but perhaps there is someone out there who may recognize the names of Miss Elliott, Miss Bolnart, Mrs. Koger and Mrs. Hawkins. We would also like to know how this group of twelve women was connected. Were they once a quilting bee? A Sunday School class? Just twelve good friends? Sometimes history is a mystery!

Pat Ross and Fran Snead

 










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