Friday, April 10, 2015

A Puddle in the Basement for Inspiration

You never can tell when an event might trigger some inspiration or a memory.  In Wisconsin yesterday, we had terrible rainstorms with tornado warnings.  Late morning when I returned home from errands I saw I had a small leak in my studio.  This happens when either the sump pump or the down spout near the door is clogged. 

I ran to the basement and got my basket full of rags, and threw them down to soak up the moisture on the carpet. Then proceeded to look outside for the cause of the problem.  When I finished with all my delightful tasks, a threw all the wet rags in the washer and dryer. 
This isn't just a rag bag

I'm done mopping and everything has dried out. It's time to put my studio back in order.  It might look to you just like a basket of junk but as I was folding up the cleaned rags I found the most interesting things:

A piece of a t-shirt with some experimental embroidery
My son's t-shirt from college
An old Case IH shirt that they gave away at company picnics when my boys were young
My very first T-shirt purchased at Paducah when my flamingo quilt won a prize
A pair of my husband's underwear
Pieces of my first flannel sheets
The striped towel my grandmother got free in a box of detergent. This is a true relic.

This isn't just a rag bag it is full of family memories!

Ann Fahl

Friday, March 20, 2015

Is Spring in the Air?

Spring in Wisconsin always arrives several months late.  About June 1st is about the time we can plant annuals in our gardens with safety from frost.

Today it's 50 degrees and sunny, so it's time to start crossing stuff off my gardening and bird care list.  I found the ladder, took down the 2 bird houses that I have, emptied them out, and scrubbed them with soap and water.  Each one had several families hatched last year and wow, they were stuffed with sticks and feathers!

My daffodils are showing their little green tips, so it'll be a month until their flowers open up. This is such an exciting time of year.
Tea and Daffodils, quilt by Ann Fahl  22 x 22 inches
The above is my all time favorite April quilt.  I can hardly wait until the daffodils begin to bloom. I have probably a thousand in my yard and last fall we added more bulbs to the main entrance of the Mount Pleasant Village Hall. I hope they look gorgeous and are welcoming to the citizens of our village.

Whenever your spring arrives, I hope you have a lovely one.

Ann Fahl

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Trip to Fort Wayne--I Found It!

It was supposed to be a weekend trip to the family cottage at Winona Lake.  The temperatures were below zero, and snow was in the forecast, so I drove to Fort Wayne to visit my aunt and uncle instead.  They gave me a tour of the city, it is much larger than when I visited as a kid. The most important part of the tour was showing me where the Allen County Public Library was located.

Grace Shaw Harvey, my grandmother
Who cares? Well this library holds one of the largest collections of books for genealogy research in the nation. The genealogy center is on the second floor and there are always librarians and volunteers to help answer questions.

In fact, my grandmother Grace Harvey, did most of her research there.  The building is beautiful, fresh new with lots of windows and books. If Grace was alive today she would love doing research on the computer which gives us access to so much more information.

I spent two afternoons there. The first afternoon didn't accomplish much, but I kind of figured out stuff like where to park, how to use the copiers, where the restroom was, carts for picking the books for study etc. But I did find 5 of the family history books that were on my wish list. The next day I had a specific mission: to find Dr. William Ralston M.D.

There had been a biography about him in a small Indiana publication that included a portrait. I've been trying to locate it for the last several years. I found where the publication was located, but there is one volume for every year, there were at least 100 years.  UGH.  So I asked one of the genealogists for help.  This man looked everywhere and it didn't seem like it could be found.

Dr. William Ralston of Southern Indiana 

Feeling very disappointed, I went back to my work table to clean up my stuff and get ready for the drive home.  All of a sudden this guy came into the study area, waving a book, saying "I found it." William was born in Scotland 1786.  He became a doctor in 1815.  Within several years he and his wife Agnes with 2 daughters sailed to America.  He arrived in southern Indiana via the long route taking waterways and rivers all the way from Newfoundland to Madison IN.

He had a fascinating history with a large territory for his medical practice and pharmacy,  his wife going with him to act as a nurse.  They had a total of 8 children.  One daughter named Ann born on Christmas day in 1836 and died on Christmas of 1920; became my great great grandmother. It is so wonderful to find your ancestors, especially if they have made a contribution to their community. But I have one question: How did Agnes have time to raise 8 children and be William's nurse?

Not quilting, but having fun,
Ann Fahl

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Search is Over

The monument has been found.  This has been a very exciting search!  So many of you helped in some way,  my posting on FaceBook brought many ideas and results. This may seem like a small thing to you, but to a family history buff, this is like winning the lottery. This experience has been wonderful.
Full view of the front of monument honoring the 5 men from Kyllburg Germany
The monument is located in the churchyard of St. Maximin Catholic Church in Kyllburg.  It honors the five men from Kyllburg that fought under Napoleon's flag.  At the top it states "For Napoleon's Warriors." Each young man was recognized by an engraving on the front or side panel, briefly telling their story. They are:
  • Jacob Lano
  • Johann Wallersheim
  • Moritz Clemens
  • Johann Wedman
  • Theodor Freywald
As young men they left their town, for maybe adventure or perhaps for the pay offered by Napoleon's Army. Each served in the 7th Regiment of his Dragoons from 1805-1814.  I've tried to translate the text on the stone, but on the photos some is not readable.  Jacob Lano 1785-1816, was in the Grenadier Guard.  Johann Wallersheim was a Dragoon and died December 22 1847.  Moritz Clemens 1789-18?7, in the Dragoons. Johann Wedman's description was undecipherable. Theodor Freywald who is my husband's ancestor, 1783-1847,  was actually in the 16th Regiment of the Dragoons, although it states he was in the 7th Reg.  How great it is to learn that your ancestors have been honored in such a way.

There are photos of all the inscriptions. I'm sharing just a few of them with you.
Shows detail of artwork, silhouette of Napoleon, photos courtesy of Mayor, Wolfgang Kramer, Kyllburg.
It was really exciting to get all of this information.  I want to thank all of you that helped, by doing some translating of websites and finding the mayor of Kyllburg and the secretary at St. Maximin's the church where this monument is located.

These are some of the people that helped:  Andrea Stracke, Pia Ulrich, Marge Barlow Martin, Susan Inge, Jacquie Scuitto and Diana Feit.

Thank you to everyone that wrote or emailed me with suggestions.

Ann Fahl

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A New Old Quilt for Valentine's Day

It was last week when I completed the last stitch in the new binding around this restored 1880s quilt.  I've been celebrating by sleeping under it each night. Because of its wool batting, it's nice and warm.
Here's the finished quilt on the bed.  I made pillow cases out of muslin with a matching 2 inch red stripe to match.  I think I'll make another set using the green fabric.
When I first started working on this quilt many of the blocks looked like this, but this one was the worst.

So the next generation of the family knows what has happened to this quilt I printed a rather lengthy history on fabric and sewed it onto the back.  If you want to read what I said, it follows below:

Harvey Family
Red and Green Tulip Basket Quilt
85 x 102 inches
There are no family stories or oral history about this quilt, but there has been some discussion of who might be the original maker.  As a young girl I remember that this quilt was displayed on the brass bed in the bedroom on the main floor of the Harvey Cottage at Winona Lake, IN.  In the late 1960’s it was a beautiful quilt but in great need of repair.

In September of 2013 I began the task of repairing it. On January 2, 2015 I placed my last stitches in the binding. This was a labor of love.

The original white background fabric had beautiful hand stitching worth preserving, but the red and green fabrics were in terrible condition. The green had so many holes in it, I could just pinch and pull it off the quilt. I re-appliqued brand new matching red and green fabrics over each block and the outer border. 

There were numerous little holes in the white areas, both on the front and the back. I appliqued new muslin patches over these areas to give the quilt more stability. As I worked I marked the areas that needed to be re-quilted, and that was all stitched by hand. A new binding was sewn right over the original binding to protect the fragile edges. 

This quilt has now been transformed into a beautiful piece, the layout of the blocks, the hand quilting and the contrast of the fabrics is stunning. I’m glad that I was able to preserve it for future family members.

A quilt historian told me that this tulip quilt was probably made in the 1880s. I’d like to think that my Great Grandmother Nancy C. Harvey (1870-1959) sat around a quilt frame with her four sisters: Belle, Alice, Lida and Madge Culbertson, to finish it for her wedding in 1891. There were many hands that stitched on this quilt, some were the original stitchers and some probably sat on the porch to make repairs in more recent years.

Inside the quilt is wool batting and I know that they had sheep on the Culbertson Farm in southern Indiana. The wool fibers had to be carefully placed on the underside of the top to give it loft and warmth.
Ann Harvey Fahl,
Quilt artist and family historian

Happy Valentine's Day.