What started as a request for old quilts for a display by the Rockdale Historical Society at the I&GN depot (11 N. Main Street) has turned into a quest to help “piece together” the history of one of the featured pieces.
‘MYSTERY QUILT’—The “mystery quilt” is displayed as the Rockdale Commemorative Quilt and is on loan from Dave and Pam Weldon of Decatur. The Weldons became owners of the quilt when they bought it at an estate sale of their deceased neighbors, Homer and Velma Lewis in Decatur. The Lewis children took out a loan on their parents’ home after the couple died, but circumstances led to the home being foreclosed on. The owners who bought the house and its contents at auction held an estate sale and the Weldons purchased several quilts, including the commemorative piece.
In their search for the original home of this quilt, the Weldons found the Rockdale Historical Society website and saw the request for display items. They then contacted Historical Society member Mary Phillips.
“They contacted me and asked if we’d be interested in displaying this quilt,” Phillips said. “They happened to be going down to shop at the big Round Top antique sale, so they brought the quilt to my house, stayed the night at Rainbow Courts and went on their way.”
In one of the bottom squares, it is hand-stitched “Compliments of E.L. McGuyer.”
There are three businesses on the quilt that are still in business today (or at least what the businesses became). They are Rockdale Beauty Shop, The Rockdale Reporter and Louis G. Gest Chevrolet (known now as Miller-Starnes Chevrolet Buick).
Anyone that might remember Homer and Velma Lewis or know more about this quilt are asked to contact Mary Phillips or Pat Jackson. Also if you have any old photos of the businesses listed on the quilt, the Historical Society is interested in copying those for their archives.
OLDEST QUILT— The oldest quilt on display is from the 1890s, and on loan from Rockdale resident Leanna Applegate. The quilt was made by Mary Ann Decker, Applegate’s great-great grandmother who was born in November 1819 and died in 1903. She and her sister were found on a dock in Jefferson after they were abandoned there, Applegate said. She was reared by an East Texas family named Decker and married Issac Garner. The quilt was made for Applegate’s maternal grandfather Homer Luckey. He was 11 years old when Mary Ann died.
A FEW OTHERS—People would use whatever they had on hand to make the quilts—scrap materials from other items, such as dresses that they had already made, old work shirts of their husbands or even feed sacks.
A few of the other quilts on display include:
• Yellow “Snowball Quilt” (circa 1930), quilt top by Gussie Owens (Pat Jackson’s mother) and her grandmother Laura Bell Smith. The fabrics are depression era fabrics and include some feed sacks. Jackson also loaned out a “String or Scrap Quilt” made by Owens sometime in the 1940s. Jackson said that she remembers several of the scrap pieces used being the same material of several dresses that her mother made for she and her sister.
• Sunbonnet Sue Quilt (circa unknown), by Mrs. Bill Holley, who made the quilt pieces many years ago, and Rachel Lopez who pieced together the quilt five years ago. The Holley’s had Holley’s Motel and Restaurants in the early 1960s. “mystery” commemorative quilt. It is on loan from Dockall’s son Bert, who is a member of the Rockdale Historical Society.
• The “Gibson Girl Quilt” was made by Mildred Luckey Harris Baker in the 1940s. Just a portion of the quilt is on display and features hand embroidered and colored blocks. It is on loan from Applegate as well.
• A blanket and sheet set displayed on an old iron bed is on loan from Mary and Dave Phillips. It was given to them by Dave’s mother and the linens were hand appliquéd to match the quilt. Its date of origin is unknown.
• A quilt, doll and doll bed is on loan from Pat Jackson and was made in the 1930s. The quilt was made by Jackson’s mother Gussie Owens. The doll, quilt and doll bed was given to Jackson when she was a young girl.
All the quilts and items are on display now at the Rockdale’s I&GN depot during its regular hours (Saturdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sundays 1-4 p.m.). Each donated quilt has a story of its own. And at the display, you can read about the history of each of them.
If you have a quilt you feel would be a great addition to the display, call Phillips 512-446- 7118 or Jackson 512-446-2956 for any info or pick up of your quilt.
The display will run through March 2014.