Thursday, August 20, 2015

August 1865 - The Civil War is Finally Over for Eli

The last letter I have from Eli to Calvin was dated July 22nd, datelined Union Springs, Alabama.  Calvin received it in Indiana on August 2nd, so I saved this last soldier's letter for this last monthly post.

Eli wrote:  "Dear Cousin, I seat myself once more at the pleasant task of answering your most welcome letter of July 1st and 2nd which made its appearance yesterday afternoon finding me enjoying very good health, was very glad to hear that you were all getting a long so well. We have just found the place where I like soldiering, Co K is doing provost duty here we have a house right in town very good shade around it, but still I would like to be at home, harvest wages were very good this season $2,00 is much better than 50 or 60 cts per day and then the grub is so much better.  That is what I look at -- you did not live on strong Coffee, spoilt bacon and hard tacks..."

Calvin must have commented on Eli's last letter's story of falling in love with "the best looking girl that I have seen since I have been in rebeldom" because he says, "Well you see the reason that I did not do with that young lady as you propose was this. You know that I am very bashful and should not like to approach one of the fair sex (in her standing especially,) so abrupt as to cause her and me both to faint on the spot. I'll just tell you what it is some very gay girls here in and around this little place.  If we should stay here a month or two I intend to have a chat with some of them sure. I was at Sunday School today and saw one that just smiled my taste she had such pretty curls and such ruby lips. Oh My but I wanted to go for her."

Eli returns to the 52nd's service "... There is a great deal of talk about our going to Mexico what do you think of that, I tell the boys that I shall have to go home to see pap before I can go to Mexico because I had to coax a long time before I could get his consent to go to fight the rebs and I think that I would have to coax some time longer before he would let me go to Mex.  It does not alarm me a bit to have them talk about going to Mexico because they know well enough that the whole command would rebel a great deal stronger than the south ever did."

"...I do not pity you for this reason because you have been there at home all the time and had all the chance in the world, and I have been away down here in Egypt a fighting the rebels but never mind the war is over with me now and I shall look around some for a wife.  Never you mind about going to see that widow for me I think that I can better myself right in this country I think I shall try at any rate. I wish you were here to eat water melons with me there is plenty of them and they are cheap too. I have just nearly lived on melons, apples and peaches since we have been here."

Eli then describes the provost duty -- yesterday they arrested a black man for stealing a lot of clothes. There are already two more in the jail, one for murder, and the other "for threatening to kill his master and burn his house down. The jail is about 10 feet square, a frame building cealed with two inch plank with one little hole cut in the back side about 12 inches square and bars put across one way."

Eli finishes the letter saying "The church bells are pealing forth their musical strains but it is too warm for me to go to church this after noon. We have very hot weather here now days." He also says they have plenty of fleas in the sandy soil.

    *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *         

Eli Hause would officially muster out with the 52nd on the 10th of September.  A year later, he was again corresponding with his cousin Calvin as he left their home town and went to work in construction, first in other cities in Indiana, and then in Fairbury, Illinois-- a booming place with a new railroad just coming to town.  There he was attracted to the daughter of a neighbor, one Myra Jan (Jennie) Marciller, and obviously overcame the shyness he wrote about, because he described their first date as a walk from one end of town to the other, and got married to her two weeks later.  They moved to Missouri, just as Eli told Calvin he would do after marching through the state with the 52nd in 1864.

Jennie was remarkably small of stature, but a strong pioneer woman. While they moved around in western Missouri, she gave birth to the first three of the four children she and Eli would have, and made a log cabin quilt.  His brothers Elmer and William also tried to make a life in Missouri, but they both gave up and returned to Indiana. In the fall of 1874, Eli took his family back to Hardenburg as well.  Eli died of typhoid pneumonia on February 13th, 1877 when he was just 30 years old.

The Hause family has amassed a remarkable record of their genealogy, but until I contacted them, they were unaware of Eli's Civil War Service.  He had a very simple marker in the family plot in the local cemetery, which broke between my visits last summer and this spring.

Eli died almost exactly two years prior to Congressional authorization to provide official markers for veterans in private cemeteries.  A few months ago, I started the process of applying for one for him.  First I had to obtain his complete service record from the National Archives. I had been sorry that the family have no photos of Eli - though here's one of the two brothers that went to Missouri with him and Jennie - the younger Elmer (left) and his older brother, fellow veteran William:

With the Complete Service Record, I got this description of Eli, which at least partially answers one question the photo above raises - 

You can get a government-supplied stone marker for a veteran only if the grave is not currently marked. My application for the marker was answered with a request for proof that Eli is buried in the cemetery I named on the form.  Because of all the history between then and now, I couldn't provide the types of documents they asked for, but just yesterday, I spoke with a VA Memorials official and emailed the above photo of his grave marked with the small brass plaque (placed by the townspeople in about 1980), a photo of the family monument, and the local newspaper notification of Eli's death the county librarian found as my evidence.  Not long after our conversation, the VA official sent me an email saying she had approved  my request, adding that Eli's marker should be delivered to the monuments company in nearby N. Vernon, Indiana in four to six weeks.
When I started on the Civil War quilt series back in 2012, I had no idea I would end up rejoicing at the official approval notification I received from the VA this morning.  I did not make a block for Eli this month because I have not yet decided all of the blocks will go together and how many more I may need, but for August 2015, I'm satisfied to have a obtained different kind of memorial to Eli's service.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Last year we started on a project to redecorate the house. That project has only a few final touches to go, and this quilt for the guest room is one of them.  To go with a deeper color paint, I made a white silk-cotton blend whole cloth (Robert Kaufman Radiance - pieced to make it cover a queen-size mattress). 

When we started to photograph the quilt hanging up outside, the air was still and the sky cloudless so no time to work on the wrinkles that set in overnight.  (unfortunately, the weather conditions didn't last.)

For the center of the quilt, I used an applique design from Kitty Pippen's Asian Elegance: Quilting with Japanese Fabrics and More.  I had to do in quilting what that design did with color so I chose to quilt the backgrounds much more densely than she did in her quilt.  I made the Hawk Feathers (the chevons seen below) with varying widths of stripes to resemble the different striped fabrics she pieced.

Here are a couple more views of that center panel with dogwoods and stylized hawk feathers.

I didn't relate to the mandarin ducks in the original design, and substituted cranes from a Dover publication.  Here they are a little closer up, standing in water.

Once I had the center quilted, I did two borders with sashiko-based designs - combining clamshells and orange peels (called Seven Treasures of Buddha by the sashiko artists) for the first. Those were easy to quilt. The Ocean Waves (the diamond pattern) was much harder and what I spent more time on than the rest of the quilt put together.  Or maybe I just spent more time dragging my feet on that part?

So as not to have to worry about making the Ocean Waves pattern turn corners and keep it facing right-side up where it falls off the bed on the sides and at the foot, I used a flower design from the same Dover book the cranes came from as a cornerstone.

 The top and bottom border are a Summa Designs pantograph wave pattern with some free motion, and the sides are a Hermione Agee feather panto based on the clam shell. By the time I got to those last borders, I was tired of working on the diamond pattern, and that allowed me to get the quilt off the machine.

Here are two views of the room nearly finished.

Norris made new nightstands to fit the room. The photo above was taken while the drawer was in the garage (modelling for the nearly finished second one).  He'd probably like us to show the real thing (below photo taken before the new lamps and mirrors showed up)  The drawer fronts are ambrosia maple (sorry for the lousy photo taken with my cell phone.)

In case you wonder why our mountain house has this Japanese-themed quilt, this is the fabric we chose to reupholster the chair with - 

I just said, "Clamshells - I can go with that."

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Holiday Quilts - International - Part 2

Now for my part in the other Remarkable Robins Quilts.  I'm sorry to say I don't have photos of all the finished quilts I can share.

My first assignment was an 18 inch block for Kerry's St. Patrick's Day quilt.  Kerry wanted a celebration of her Irish heritage. She made a six inch block with roadsigns on a potato print, indicating destinations in Ireland. Dorry sent me a tea towel printed with a map of England on Pure Irish Linen and a handkerchief embroidered with shamrocks to use. I cut out the Legend and the Pure Irish Linen label. I used a strip of the green that Kerry had used as the backing of her Round Robin vegetable quilt for the green squares and added a 100% linen for the background.

I never pieced linen before and found it was a joy to work with. It is stable and presses beautifully.  
Here's a closeup of that handkerchief embroidery.  It floats over the orange dot Kerry supplied.

For my Flat Stanley, I opened the atlas to the map of Ireland. Lu came right over to check it out and Kerry loved cats, so that was the photo I used.

Next I made a block for Jo.  Jo and all of our Australian residents said they don't decorate for holidays much, and instead chose holiday destinations for their quilts.  Jo's was the coast.  She gave us each a different water fabric with waves. Mine was a gradation.  

I bought a gradient hand dye from Vicki Welsh and had fun playing with a way to intermingle both fabrics. I took the Ocean Waves block and simplified it so I could leave Jo's fabric in large pieces.

It was a surprise when I realized that when Vicki made the gradient, she took the blue and brown palette from a  photo of the same rocky coast Jo used as inspiration for her quilt.

The center of Jo's block is embellished with charms, and a fish net I made with thread on a water soluble base.  The net took almost as much time as the piecing.

I took my beach towel outside for my Flat Stanley.  I have the rocks of the coast in Jo's inspiration photo, but no water.

My next block was for Dorry's Easter quilt.  She supplied a yellow fabric dotted with pastel colors.  I made her an Easter Lamb in a grape leaf wreath with a polka dotted sky.

Dorry's fabric wound up in colored Easter eggs for the wreath.

The design I appliqued on the eggs is an adaptation of the Rotorua quilting design I put on the quilt Kerry made for Dorry's son Casey (here are my photos of that quilt).

I couldn't decide between my Flat Stanleys for Dorry -but I'll just show one here, with the lamb nestled among my blooming native iris.

My last block was for Heather who chose a return to Spain on her holiday.  My sister-in-law Joanna went to Spain for a study tour during this time, and took lots of great photos I had permission to use.  These tiles are in the Castillo de Coca.

Heather supplied us with a rich print by Jason Yenter.  Here's how it looks in a Spanish tile design: it's the large ring.  The inner circle motifs were from a coordinating print.

I really had fun with my Flat Stanley of Heather's block, taping it to the tile wall at the Pavillion downtown Asheville, with locally made tile.  Afterwards, I learned that the ceramic artist studied under masters in Spain and credits their influence in her work.

My assignment for the next round was to make 4 18x 6 inch sashing strips for Rhonda's Christmas quilt.  She gave us the red hearts on tan that appears a bit left of center.

These are my four strips arrayed as for the quilt -

The last part I played in this International Holiday Extravaganza was to assemble Judy's vacation trip to Japan.  I had four very different, asymmetrical blocks.  Two used Judy's supplied aqua dogwood fabric in three inch strips on two sides, and one used it on just one side.  Japanese art generally is not about symmetry and I was already feeling challenged by the four blocks.  Then Kerry sent me a preview of what she was making for the sashing strips.  Kerry was a master with color, and what she was doing with brilliantly colored, high-contrast squares was scary for me.  So I changed the rules, and with Kerry's cooperation, we got Judy's quilt together.  You probably have to click on this photo to examine what's going on.

Judy's six inch block with magenta and lime green is just to the left and down from the little doll.  Rhonda came next with the floral spray on a sashiko-enhanced background that appears in the lower left corner. Heather followed with the six clever paper-pieced cranes that look like origami.  Dorry made the adorable kimono-clad doll with her framework of gradated pinwheels, and Jo appliqued the Noshi design near the upper left.

Jo's block had 3-D dogwood blossoms made from Judy's supplied fabric - she shipped her block to me with these foam supports to keep them from flattening:

 I mimicked Heather's aqua zig zags with white silk to set some lime folded fabric embellishments

and made white cotton flowers - both of these folded fabric flower designs are from Rebecca Wat's book. You can also see some of Kerry's sashiko embroidery in this next photo.

Kerry had pieced the sashing strips in various combinations following a tentative mockup I had done with the blocks in EQ7, and thoughtfully included lots of extra 3.5 inch squares she worked with, as well as the remaining dogwood fabric from her 1/2 yard piece.  My sister helped with the final layout of all the pieces. We tried to balance the bright colors and extended the gradation of Dorry's pinwheels into the connecting strips.  I used a strawberry pink gradation (also from Vicki Welsh) for two very narrow border strips and finished with a border limited to two fabrics and a few more white folded flowers.

The Robin quilts were always a challenge - so many talented quilters putting in so much effort really pushed me to my creative abilities.  Judy's Japan quilt took me so far out of my comfort zone I can't really say if I like it or not. Two years later, I will admit is is a relief that we have not taken up another project like this, but if such an opportunity comes up again, I'll probably jump right back in.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Holiday Quilts - International - Part 1

I'm overdue to post photos from the last Remarkable Robins cooperative quilt-making.  Our leader Dorry chose the theme - Holidays - and suggested each of the 7 participants chose one she would like to decorate her house with seasonally.  I chose Ground Hog Day, not with the intention of confounding my fellow quilters from other continents, but because I was already thinking about seasonal quilts and felt like Winter would not be my strong point.  Before they got too carried away with their protests about not even knowing what a Ground Hog was, I told them they were under no circumstances to depict the hairy rodent on my quilt, and suggested that since Ground Hog Day is all about the Shadow and there are plenty of traditional quilt blocks and settings that incorporate the Shadow, they need not look too far for quiltable ideas.

The plan for the quilt was a secret to most, but each of us was to make a 6 inch block, provide 1/4 yard of fabric to 4 other quilters, and 1/2 yard to two more quilters.  It was up to us how to divide up the fabric, and we could use 6 different fabrics or any combination we chose.

This is the little six inch block I made.  It's one of the many Robbing Peter to Pay Paul blocks, which is how I see those final six weeks the Ground Hog's shadow sighting predicts: will we have six more weeks of winter? Or will spring arrive in Six weeks?  I hoped the colors and prints would suggest winter, even to those who live where the our winter with snow and ice does not happen.

The next four quilters made18 inch blocks. The fifth made four 6x18 inch sashings, and the final quilter put it together with an outer border.

The first quilter to take on my challenge was Judy from Virginia, living in Australia.  She drafted this masterpiece of dimension herself, claiming it took every tool in her quilting studio to do it.  I have no idea how she was able to do it - or even where you would start, but I know it involved circles.  Keep staring at it and you'll see 3 different stars rising and falling from the hexagonal shape.


Next was Canadian Rhonda, who was not confused by the concept of Groundhog Day.  She made this clever take on the three dimensionality of Tumbling Blocks, amped up with holes for the groundhog to peek out of. The marble-print fabric that appears on the left side of the lowest left block is the one I supplied in fat quarters for the first four quilters.

Heather in Australia used Margaret Miller's Blockbender Quilts as her inspiration for a Sunshine and Shadows setting of the colors of my block.

And then Dorry from New Zealand living in Virginia took inspiration from one of Heather's inspirations and masterfully made all these shadowy triangles. 

Jo in Australia didn't shy away from all the Y seams of 12 Attic Windows blocks for the sashing strips.In the photo of Dorry's block above you can see the tiny Orange Peels she appliqued inside the window of the inner blocks of the sashings that mimic my starting block.  I quilted them in the other 8 blocks, as you can see below.  The light green fabric you see at the top of the photo below is the one I supplied for the sashing and borders.

My quilt was assembled by Dorry's sister Kerry in New Zealand.  It's hard to talk about Kerry's contribution to my quilt because it was not long after our group presentation that she passed away.  You don't see it in the above photo, but in this one you will see that she precisely copied my starting block - down to the fussy cutting I did of that Jason Yenter Wintergraphix fabric.  Where I cut four matching petals from that swirling print, she made 32!!  After all that, she left me some space to quilt more of those shapes all around, so my quilting stamp makes a big impression.

I was happy to discover this print, also a Jason Yenter Wintergraphix, that I used for the back of my quilt to celebrate that Orange Peel design I quilted after the inspiration of that same block. 

This is the quilt they made for me, after I quilted it.  It looks a little washed out in this photo taken on a bright sunny day in May.

In a follow up post, I'll share my input to everyone else's quilts.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

July, 1865

Eli has been serving in Alabama waiting for orders to go home. My July block is a variation of the Alabama block.  This version is easier to piece in the 8 inch size I've been using.

Our sun is so bright today the colors are washed out in my photo.

The next letter from Eli to Calvin was sent from Montgomery Alabama on June 11th, but my entry last month was long so I postponed telling this part of his story. In reference to a report Calvin gave him that oil has been struck in nearby North Vernon, Eli writes, "I should not be surprised for the paper stated the other day that their well had caught afire and was about to burn this whole Country up. Think there is any danger of burning my big plantation up there at Hardenburg? If there is I will try and sell out."  He then goes on to a new topic:  "... as I told you before I was on picket night before last and after night we had to patrol the Country to pick up the boys out there that was out stealing chickens. So one of the other Corp and I took 3 men and went out where some market wagons had stoped for the night, and lo and behold divil a soldier did we find there -- but I saw the best looking girl that I have seen since I have been in rebeldom. I tell you what I just fell in love with her but pshaw what good did that do me, I have not saw her since nor never expect to see her again."  He tells Calvin to stop teasing him about some unnamed woman back home, and later tells Calvin to find a good looking young lady and intercede for him.  Eli does not believe he'll make it home by July 4th, but it should not be long after that.  The men are still drilling as usual. 

On July 7th, Eli answers two letters from Calvin, complaining of how hot it is. They are getting honey for 15 to 30 cents per pound and he's eating all the peaches and apples he wants every day. He has to go off on Parade so takes up the pen again on the 8th. Evidently he's had some success meeting women on his own, because he writes, "... I wish you were here next saturday to spend a week with me we would go out in the Country and have a big time with some girls that I have got acquainted with, if nothing happens and I can get permission to leave camp I am going out to see them, wouldn't you laugh if I should fetch one of them home with me, ha, ha, ha." Calvin's letter must have suggested the name of some young lady they both know Eli seems to be interested in.  Both young men are 19 years old at this time.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Knitted Lace

My grandmothers and great grandmothers left us a lot of crocheted and tatted lace.  I've found I enjoy knitting lace, done with a slightly thicker thread and needles.

Lace doesn't make a practical sweater, just a pretty one.  Here I'm displaying the border, the way the shawl knitters do it.

I had Norris take photos when I was wearing sweat pants and a tank - if I wore a sweater like this around the house, I'd pull the threads and make holes in no time. I can't even walk out the door without snagging my purse strap on the handle some days.

I think it will be nice over a dark dress to wear to some fancy occasion. The yarn is a subtle variegated tencel in shades of aqua and off white.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June, 1865

On June 9th, about two weeks after the Grand Review of the Armies, Billy and John were mustered out of service.  Both went back to their homes and families near Hayden, Indiana.
Great-Great Uncle Billy married John's sister Caroline just after the war.  They had two sons, Fredrick and Shepherd.  My Great Grandmother's book tells us that Fredrick died in New Jersey during the Great War (WWI).  Shepherd stayed in southern Indiana and went on to be a musician like his father, and was the County Superintendent of the Public Schools from 1911 until 1938. Billy was a carpenter, and the museum in Hayden has examples of furniture he built in their pre-1900 bedroom display. (The couple pictured are from a different family)

Billy Whitcomb dresser at the Hayden museum

Billy Whitcomb bed, nightstand, and mirror at the Hayden museum
There is no photo of John in uniform, nor are there any of his soldier letters. As we understand it, John wanted to forget the war.
Earliest picture I have of John

The local history museum in Hayden featured John in a newsletter article a few years ago and called him "one of the most prominent men and progressive farmers at one time in Spencer Township." John did not marry until 1874 - his wife Alice was 10 years younger.  They had 14 children together - 12 of them lived to adulthood.  This was the house they built - (photo from the mid 1900's)

John used his soldier's pay to buy land near his father's place. By 1884, he owned a total of 730 acres. Alice wrote of John, "farmer by vocation and by nature, he loved livestock and to till the soil. He went at his work early in the morning with great zest and determination, which brought him unusual success.  He took pleasure in his surroundings: the sunrise and set - the glories of the day ... grain fields were seas of beauty to him." I can go on about his achievements but let me instead copy this portion of what Alice said about John and Billy (who was her mother's brother), and their friend Levi -
John and Wm were comrads in Co. B 82 reg't Ind. Volunteers. infantry. always felt near. Had another comrade forming a trio, and who knows but that the ties formed on the bloody fields of Chickamauga and Lookout Mountain are stronger even than the family ties formed when fields were green instead of red. 

Levi, a few months before he died sent John and "Billy" this toast:

"Heres to you old pals
May you live a thousand years
Just to keep things happy
Through this vale of tears:
And may I live a thousand years – just short one day.
'Cause I wouldn't like to stay on earth
When you had gone away."

When John & Billy got this toast how deeply their hearts were touched. This triumvirate of the days of 1862-5 was broken by the death first of Levi – in a short time John joined him //November 1912//. Two weeks more Billy too joined them. All patriotic, kind, were loving husbands, good fathers, tolerant neighbors. At parting there is always something sweet to remember.

To remember John in my quilt, I tried again to make the Indiana Farmer block I attempted for the Grandmother's Choice quilt. What was 8 inches for that quilt is 18 here, which I thought would be easier.

It was still a difficult block. I pieced it, except for the ends of the tabs which are appliqued where the background ticking stripe meets the asymmetrical blue star points.

Unlike the 82nd, Indiana's 52nd remained in the field. Eli wrote to his cousin Calvin from Montgomery Alabama on June1st -

I seat myself this morning to scratch you a few lines in answer to your kind and welcome letter of April 30th which came to  hand a few days ago and found me enjoying very good health. Well Cal I have put off writing longer than I should but I was trying to learn something of our future whereabouts, as near as I can find out you might as well direct via Cairo when you write again. The officers got orders to have their books straightened up so as to be ready when called upon and the 2nd Brig had orders to go down the river starting this morning. You need not be at all surprised if I should spend the 4th of July with you. Oh won't we have some great times when I get home again.

After discussing letters sent and not received, and telling Calvin he's thinking about not shaving his mustache until he gets home, Eli writes,

I believe I shall go out tomorrow and get some plums and blackberries. I wish you were here to go with me we would have a gay time wouldn't we. There was one of the 178th NY shot himself this morning and made a sure thing of it, the ball entering his mouth and come out of the top of the back of the head tore his head very badly to pieces. I think he was very foolish now that the war is over and so good a prospect of getting home soon.
For most everyone the war is over, but with Eli still in the Union Army writing letters to Calvin, I'm not finished making blocks for my quilt yet.