The Ohio History Connection recently acquired a beautiful new quilt from Anna Mae Rhoades of Caldwell, Ohio. Caroline Rinehart made the blue and white Feathered Star quilt between 1880-1900. The feathered star blocks and teeth are pieced with blue cotton fabric with
white dots. The alternating white cotton blocks feature crosshatch, diagonal and vine quilting. The blocks are set four across and four down, and they are bound by a triple border with a saw tooth inner and outer border and a white central border with diagonal quilting. The quilt is bound with the blue dotted fabric.
The quilt’s maker, Caroline Rinehart, was born Caroline Wanner in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, in 1853. She worked as a hired girl for Ms. Rhoades’s great-grandparents, James and Sarah Rinehart, in Rose, Carroll County, Ohio. Sarah died between 1870-1880, and by 1880, James and Caroline had married. Caroline died in 1937.
It was not unusual for a man to marry a worker from his household following the death of his wife. Men relied on their wives to cook, clean, sew and more importantly, care for their children. James and Sarah had at least three children by 1870: David, William and Elizabeth. By 1880, Laura, Matilda and an unnamed infant had joined the family. Caroline likely helped Sarah to care for the children as part of her household duties. Because neither woman left behind letters or diaries, we can’t know for sure what Caroline’s work entailed. After Sarah’s death, James would have needed someone to take over Sarah’s chores and raise the children. For Caroline, her marriage to James would have provided her with a home and financial support. I’d like to think James and Caroline also loved each other, but that was not always the case.
Caroline’s quilt is a wonderful example of a late-nineteenth-century pieced cotton quilt. It was shown at the Columbus Metropolitan Quilt Show in Columbus, Ohio, in 1996 and the Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens, Ohio, in 1998, winning Viewer’s Choice at the Columbus show. I’m not surprised; the blue feathered stars look stunning against the crisp, white background. The tiny, saw tooth borders are sewn with such skill and care, and I can’t imagine creating such perfect stitches by candlelight! We are so thrilled to add this quilt to our collection!
Do you have a favorite family quilt? We would love to hear about it!