Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Drummond Island Quilts

Yesterday we took a day off from Otsego Lake to travel north to the Upper Peninsula ("U.P." or "Upe").  It's the 2nd largest freshwater island in the U.S., with a small year-round population, lots of summer homes and many nice rental units.  It was a spur-of-the-moment trip; we didn't take golf clubs or kayaks so there really wasn't much to do except visit the local historical museum.  Lots of old, rusty logging equipment (not exactly unusual around here), photos of early settlers, etc.  Then I found the quilts!  (In addition to kayaks and golf clubs, I also didn't have my camera, so these phone-photos are a bit blurry.  My apologies.)
Drummond Island
 This quilt has panels from scenes and landmarks around the island.  The panel above is a map of the island (in the lower right corner of the quilt).

The quilt isn't old, but it is treasured because many of the landmarks no longer exist.  I didn't get to find out which ones were gone or where the existing ones are -- there was only one docent and the joint was jumping.

The local guild made the quilt for a raffle.  The man who won the raffle didn't want it, so he sold (!) it back to the museum.  Sounds like a nice guy...

 Though several hands were at work, many panels use a thin gray yarn to depict masonry or wood siding.  The buildings are heavily embroidered.

A local church
The old Town Hall

Two old school buildings
Paper birches in the autumn

Across the street from the museum is a small memorial to a woman named Betsy Seaman.  This simple red-and-white quilt was made by her children and grandchildren for her 70th birthday, September 28, 1890.  It was signed by them all.

70th birthday quilt, made for Betsy Seaman, Sept. 28, 1890

Betsy was the wife of Murry Seaman, the first permanent settler on Drummond Island whose descendants still live there.  Murry and his first wife, Lovina, had joined the new Mormon religion in New York State and had moved with other Mormons to Nauvoo, Illinois.  Betsy became Murry's second wife in 1841.  In 1850 they moved with other Mormons to Beaver Island in Lake Michigan, and finally settled on Drummond Island in Lake Huron in 1853.  Murry died 10 years later, leaving Betsy along under pioneer conditions with 10 children.  Some family members remain on the island today.

The quilt is in fairly good shape, considering that it is over 120 years old. 

 Another quilt nearby also used the same red and white fabrics in classic basket blocks.  Perhaps it was also made by a member of the Seaman family.

Unfortunately, this quilt is in poorer condition.  The quilt was undated.

The quilting is simple, diagonal lines forming squares and triangles in the background and stitching around the seams of the basket triangles.  There is a bit of echo stitching around the basket handles.

All of these quilts, except the big Drummond Island one hanging on the wall, are in glass cabinets.  I was reluctant to use the flash, so some of these photos are a bit dark.  The background fabrics are actually very white, despite the quilts' age.

 Here's a Friendship quilt.

The quilt below is also undated, but the museum label says that it was used for 3 generations.  The seams on this Ohio Star don't always meet exactly, but every point is perfect.  The background is diagonally quilted, wide in some areas, more dense in others.  The dark pieces in the stars are echoed.
Ohio Star, probably at least 70 years old.

These hexies were probably made from old shirts and dresses.   The hexagons are about 1-1/2".  There was no information about the quilt and it was folded up in the cabinet, so it was hard to see much more than what is here.  Does anyone have any idea about the vintage of these fabrics?

Another folded quilt -- grrr!  And the handwritten information is stuck toward the back, so it can't be read.  The one is also very scrappy, with white to pull it together.  The outer border is a large scallop, very pretty.  I just wish I could see the whole quilt!


  1. Love your story of our wonderful museum and the time you spent there! Thanks for sharing - I posted a link to your Blog on our official Drummond Island MI Facebook page so others can enjoy reading your Blog too. You can find us here:

    1. Candis, thanks for sharing the link! I'm glad you enjoyed my blog, as I certainly enjoyed your museum. Best wishes for a warm, safe winter -- snuggle under a quilt!