Historical quilt was 70 years in the making

Robert Blackford/Editor

It's really just a few scraps thrown together. The quilt on display at the Essley Noble Museum were pieces of fabric we would throw away today.

Now they represent a way many area residents may be able to touch their past.

Louise Barrington

The quilt dates back to 1941 when Louise Barrington was a home economics teacher at Aledo High School.

Barrington grew up in Norwood, went to the grade school there and graduated from Alexis High School. She graduated from Bradley College in 1939 and taught school in Good Hope for one year and at Aledo for two years including the fall of 1941.

"I went to a meeting of Home Economics teachers. I found out that many teachers had the girls make a quilt block from the scraps of cotton material from making the aprons for cooking later on. They made the blocks, but I never had time to quilt the quilt," said Barrington in a letter this year about the history of the quilt blocks.

After her two years at Aledo High School she went into Extension work for the University of Illinois working in Lee County.

"When I married I thought I'd finish the quilt. I was always busy and never touched the quilt. It has set in the attic for 66 years," continued Barrington

Barrington is now Louis Barrington Schoenholz and living in Paw Paw Illinois.

Barrington said in the letter that she learned of the museum from her sister Donna Litchfield of Rio. Barrington contacted her niece Janet McCaw who delivered the squares to the museum.


What makes the quilt squares unique is that each square bears the name of the each of the 41 students that made it back in 1941-42. Essley Noble Museum curator Veda Meriwether took it up on herself to put the squares together into a quilt. She has been a member of the Mercer County Quilting Guild since she came to Aledo. That quilt is now on display at the Essley Noble Museum. "I used everything she gave us," said Meriwether.

Meriweather said that one of the quilters from 1941, Evelyn Line, has been by to see their old handiwork. "They did their work by hand but I used a machine to put it together." Meriwether. Meriwether joked that it wasn't a great quilt by quilting standards and she had some difficulty putting it together.

Names on the quilt are Genevive Anderson, Colleen Anderson, Florence Bivens, Florence Bonynge, Bethel Bracht, Dorothy Brown, Evelyn Brown, Mary Burns, Winifred Burns, Dorothy Danning, Helen Dennison, Betty Jean Dennison, Ruth Elliott, Patsy Greeves, Margaret Griffin, Arleen Griffin, Barbara Haney, Florence Jennings, Anita Johnson, Betty Kell, Kathryn Kistler, Evelyn Line, Iris Long, Helena May, Lois McDonald, Marna McDonald, Dellangene Newswander, Eleanor Schmidt, Rowena Scranton, Rachel Smith, Maxine Smith, Betty Snell, Bonnie Jean Spence, Martha Spence, Stata Stallings, Alice Stead, Shirley Stone, Allyne Taylor, Doris Wakeland, Naomi Wakeland and Roma Wakeland.