Week 49: #52 Ancestors – Homemade
By Eilene Lyon
Recently my Aunt B emailed me to say she had “discovered” an old family quilt in her closet. It came down through my Smith ancestors and appears to have been made by my great-grandmother, Mary Lila (Reams) Smith.
This crazy quilt is embroidered with the names of family members, including Lila, and a date: February 7, 1905. It’s probable that Lila’s two daughters, Clara and Ada, helped with the stitching. I have a quilt in my possession that I believe Ada made (at least that’s the story I recall), so it makes sense that she learned the skill from her mother.
A family photograph dated to 1906 shows the Smiths on their farm in Cunningham, Washington, and that is probably where the quilt originated. From the looks of the property and the board-and-batten structure of the house, I’d guess that the family appreciated having warm covers in the winter!
The two youngest sons, my grandfather Laurence and Loren, had not been born yet. The Smiths relocated north to Meyers Falls near Colville by 1908 when Laurence came along. The Smiths led a hardscrabble life during these farming years. It was not until they moved to Moscow, Idaho, that the family fortunes improved. That is where Loren was born in 1911.
Laurence and Loren grew up with a stepmother, because their mother Lila passed away at the age of 45 in 1917. This past November 24th was the 150th anniversary of her birth.
I look forward to seeing the quilt in person on my next trip to Oregon when I will bring it home to Colorado to preserve. Someday it will likely go to my niece or another Smith family descendant.
Feature image: The 1905 crazy quilt. The names I can read in this photo are: Clara Smith, Harry Smith, Ada Smith, and C. E. Smith. Quilt images courtesy of B. Smith.