Monday, August 27, 2012

A New England Applique? Fanny Lloyd Garrison

Here's a quilt from a historic home in New England, attributed to the year 1815, a date that seems quite likely given the fabrics and the style. The quilt or unquilted top looks worn and the picture from the files of Historic New England is fuzzy but we can tell a lot about the style. It's the combination contrasting cut-out chintz and conventional applique that is so typical of early 19th century quilts. It's a design full of contrasts--- the painterly chintz flowers in the vase contrasting with the folky simplicity of the striped calico vase; the pink birds cut from a toile looking down on the appliqued blackbirds perched on the inner border.

It's a  favorite of mine. I love the flock of birds of a different feather. I keep coming back to it because it's certainly an interesting quilt for New England in 1815 and perhaps the only cut-out chintz or Broderie Perse quilt in their picture files.

You can see the file in the Historic New England database here:

I'd like to know more about it. The catalog entry tell us it's cotton and linen and the copperplate print is red and white. It's 49-1/2" wide. It was donated to the house (which house they aren't saying) in 1950 by the accession number (1950.45). The quilt's date (which doesn't seem to be inscribed) is 1815 and the maker is "Garrison, Fanny Maria Lloyd, d. 1923."

Wait a minute--- if Fanny Garrison died in 1923 and made this quilt she'd have been way over 100. And wait another minute. Fanny Maria Lloyd Garrison---could she be related to William Lloyd Garrison---that pillar of abolitionist New England?

William Lloyd Garrison, 1833
By Nathaniel Jocelyn
National Portrait Gallery

A little web searching found that William Lloyd Garrison's mother was indeed Frances Maria Lloyd Garrison. Because she gave birth to a famous son---he was possibly the most vilified journalist in mid-19th-century America and a hero to many others---we can find out a lot about Fanny Garrison.

William Lloyd Garrison's newspaper The Liberator
was the voice of the abolitionist movement.

Her grandchildren (she never knew them) wrote a biography of William Lloyd and included information about Fanny with some of her letters. Those letters survive in several archives.

First of all she died in 1823---which makes a lot more sense than 1923.

Frances Maria Lloyd was born in the 1776 in Deer Island, New Brunswick (then Nova Scotia) into a seafaring family. Her father was an Irish immigrant. She married sailor Abijah Garrison on December 12 (family lore recalled the anniversary if not the year) about 1798.

The purported birthplace of Fanny's younger son
in Newburyport.

In 1805 Abijah, Fanny and children moved to Newburyport, Massachusetts, where Abijah hoped they'd be "less expos'd to the Ravages of war and stagnation of business," during the Napoleonic wars that so affected shipping. William Lloyd Garrison was born in December of that year, followed three years later by a sister Elizabeth. Abijah Garrison moved back to New Brunswick soon after but Fanny stayed in Newburyport. A single mother, 32 with two boys and a baby girl, she took up monthly nursing, caring for mothers and infants at birth and afterwards. This assistance at a "lying-in" required she live with her clients for a month or so and her own children were not welcome. Each Garrison went his or her way with another family.

During the War of 1812 she moved to Lynn, Massachusetts, home to tanning and shoe industries, where she became close to the family of Paul Newhall. Mary Mudge Newhall gave birth to nine children, so one can imagine that Fanny was in demand there. When the Newhalls moved to Baltimore in 1815 the pregnant Mary invited Fanny and her children along. The new shoe factory failed. The Newhalls did not stay long in Baltimore and neither did Fanny's son William Lloyd who was lonesome for Newburyport. At ten years old he returned alone and soon became a newspaperman's apprentice.

By Sanford Robinson Gifford
Fanny continued as a lying-in nurse in Baltimore---probably serving rather wealthy clients, among them Elizabeth Pickering Dorsey, who lived in Elk Ridge, a few miles from Baltimore. Elizabeth's father was Timothy Pickering, an important politician in the young United States, and a particular friend to Martha Custis Peter, whose quilt you'll see at the top of this post:

Rebecca White Pickering of Salem, Massachusetts
 by Gilbert Stuart,
 painted about the time her
daughter Elizabeth Dorsey died.

Elizabeth died in August, 1819  after an "illness of three weeks, commencing with bilious fever," a description that could include any kind of infection. Nursing was a dangerous profession and Fanny worried to her son about epidemics in the Southern climate. By the time Elizabeth died in 1819, Fanny herself was not well. Timothy Pickering asked Fanny's help caring for Elizabeth's 9-month-old baby. He complimented her nursing skills, writing that it was a "great satisfaction to know that, in all times of need, [my daughter] had so tender a nurse."

But Fanny was too sick to work. She lived in Baltimore as an invalid for several years, "on the charity of friends," she told William, with "all the sensations of mortified pride." She died in September, 1823, in her mid-forties, probably of tuberculosis. William, who spent little time with her, remembered her as a pious, pretty and brave woman.

Back to the quilt in the New England museum: I bet it's really not a New England quilt---Fanny lived in Baltimore from 1815 to 1823 and it seems very likely it was made in Maryland. It has a lot more in common with these Maryland quilts made about the same time:

This medallion by Mary Eby dated 1803 is the earliest quilt documented by the Maryland project. See it in their book A Maryland Album by Gloria Seaman Allen and Nancy Gibson Tuckhorn.

Baltimore quilt dated 1807 from Dr. Dunton's book.

See one in the collection of the D.A.R. Museum here:
Another from Dr. Dunton

See another post about Baltimore quilts


Many of Fanny Garrison's letters are in at Wichita State University. See a short biography here:

1 comment:

WoolenSails said...

It is amazing how you can find such wonderful information about a quilt and the true story behind it. I will have to start taking some trips to the museums in the fall, when the summer traffic dies down.