In the donor’s words: “The . . . quilt was pieced and quilted by the wives of the Negro slaves, with my grandmother being there to see that they did it right. The cotton filling in the quilt was raised on the Long plantation. The quilt came to me from my mother who had received it from her mother-in-law. This quilt, when first made and even after I received it, was green, red and white . . . the green has faded out [to tan]. You will find some machine stitching on the border around the quilt, my mother did this a number of years ago as it became worn from use . . . the quilt is very precious to me because of the history related to it.”
The plantation the donor refers to is situated on Little Cypress Creek in Upshur County, Texas. It was homesteaded by M.S. Long Sr., the donor’s grandfather. M. S. Long, originally from Ireland, traveled by wagon train from Tennessee (where he had first settled) to Texas in the 1840s. He brought along slaves who built houses and other buildings, and then cleared lands for crops such as cotton, corn and cane. The plantation grew to well over 1,000 acres and the donor’s grandparents lived there the rest of their lives. It was on this plantation that the quilt was made.
The quilt consists of four 28” blocks and 2 half-blocks pieced in a “Feathered Star” pattern. The blocks are joined by triple 1 ¼” strips with red 8-pointed stars at the intersections. It has a plain-woven white and brown stripe cotton lining. A border strip (2 2/3”) of white cotton is stitched over the original red, green (now tan), and white sashing. Possibly the quilt was cut down to eliminate worn areas. It is quilted, 5-6 stitches per inch.
This “Feathered Star” quilt and a thimble used by the donor’s great-grandfather in Ireland for making and repairing leather goods are in the Collection. The donor was the last in the family and did not wish to see these treasured items lost or thrown away. The quilt is an example of a utilitarian, well used household item made by slaves as part of their work on a plantation.