Recently, my husband and I spent a wonderful afternoon with our two grandsons at a Fall Festival that was hosted by the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula in Missoula, Montana. The day was breezy and cold, but the 4 of us gladly endure it all. It was when the cold became a bit too much though, that we ventured into a cabin on the property to see what event was going on inside.
The small cabin, known as the Hayes Cabin, was built sometime around 1900 and it belonged to Patrick Hayes. It was once located east of Missoula in Potomac County, but was donated by Mr. Hayes’ decedents and moved to the Museum in 1974. Today it is set up like a typical restored historical cabin with a table, chairs and a bed.
It was the bed that stopped me in my tracks. On it were two quilts: A Double Wedding Ring and a quilt whose pattern I was unable to identify. After I studied the unique quilt for several minutes, my husband obligingly took some photographs of it for me. It wasn’t until the next day however, that I looked at the photo’s and realized what the quilt block was. On my computer I could clearly see what my eyes could not percieve the day before; a negative image of a vintage pattern that is rarely seen today: A “T” block
I was already intrigued by this quilt but suddenly the urge to find out more about it and the person who made it was overwhelming, as was my desire to reproduce an exact replica of it.
Since I started on my quilt journey in earnest, I would occasionally find an heirloom quilt that would speak to something deep inside the recesses of my being. A deep desire to remake the quilt to its former glory would be overwhelming for me. Now and again I would reproduce a pattern, but the quilts that I so longed to make new again would stay frozen in my minds eye or in photographs that I would collect and dream over. Seeing the “T” quilt however, I knew I HAD to reproduce it because I would never be content to just dream over it. So I did something that was totally out of character for me, I emailed the historical museum and asked if I could come by and examine the quilt more closely.
Imagine my surprise when I was told that I not only could come by, but the museum curator would like to meet me. With eager anticipation, we set up a time to meet the very next day and unbeknownst to me at the time, a new life journey was set in motion.
Not only did I meet with the curator Ted Hughs, but he graciously gave my husband and I a private viewing of their current quilt exhibit and I was allowed to examine the “T” quilt and several others in the privacy of Mr. Hughs’ workroom! I was both honored and humbled.
“There is perhaps no more faithful a record of bygone days in America than patchwork quilts, both because they represent a craft practiced exclusively in the home for more than two centuries and because their designers gave them symbolic meaning.”
Ruth E. Finley “Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them.”
For the readers of Then and Again Quilts who may not be able to visit the Museum at Fort Missoula, I would like to share with you some of the wonderful historic textiles that I was fortunate to behold that day.
The following are some of the quilts that my husband and I were allowed to view in the staff workroom:
These quilts are currently on display at the Museum at Fort Missoula until June 2019:
I am so very grateful to Mr. Hughs for the wonderful gift that he bestowed on me. His kindness has motivated me to follow my long standing dream to reproduce heirloom quilts and patterns as well as to remember the long forgotten women who made these timeless treasures.
I highly recommend you stop by the Museum at Fort Missoula to view the exhibit, if it is at all possible for you. Admission is only $4.00 per person and you get to view all their indoor and outdoor exhibits. It is well worth the trip.
Thank you for visiting Then and Again Quilts, I hope you will come back again!