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Local museums join forces for quilt tour

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Orange-and-red Snow Crystal or Yankee Pride quilt that was made in 1912. There is a handwritten note attached to the back. "Edna Gartung, 209 Kate, City. This quilt was a wedding gift to me in 1912 from my grandmother. She pieced and quilted her self at 75."
(Photo courtesy of Cathy Stoverink)
A light bulb came on for Cathy Stoverink, a self-proclaimed quilt lover, last year when the River Heritage Quilter's Guild was planning its quilt show. "I thought, 'you know, we have some 100-year-old gorgeous quilts here at the Oliver House; why don't we have some folks come through?" Stoverink says.

So the Oliver House joined forces with the Glenn House and the Cape River Heritage Museum to have their own quilt show and bring people to the museums.

But, Stoverink says, not many people ventured away from the mega show put on by the guild. "We feel people just missed the opportunity to come [to the museums] last year," she says.

Undaunted, the three museums have joined forces again this year for Quilt Tour 2011 on Saturday, Sept. 24 and Sunday, Sept. 25. Quilts will be displayed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at the Oliver House, the Glenn House and the Cape River Heritage Museum. Tickets are $5 for each location. A $10 "super ticket" can be purchased in advance, which allows visitors to tour all three museums on both days. They are available at the museums and all Bank of Missouri locations in Cape Girardeau and Jackson.

Stoverink, who is a member of the Jackson Heritage Association, says the museums plan to have a quilt show any year the River Heritage Quilters Guild doesn't. She sees the quilts as a great way to connect people to the past and highlight the historic treasures in Cape Girardeau County.

Oliver House quilts clockwise from top left: The orange-and-red Yankee Pride or Snow Crystal; a wool and velvet star-patterned crazy quilt from the late 1800s; a red, green and white Oriental Star and a green Ocean Waves quilt made in the 1850s.
(Photo courtesy Cathy Stoverink)
"We've been trying to do more in conjunction with the Glenn House and River Heritage Museum and I can't think of a better way to do things together than with quilts in the old-fashioned quilting bee sense," Stoverink says. "I think quilts just appeal to so many people on so many different levels. And every time you can get someone into one of the museums it's a good thing."

Each of the museums is aiming to display about 50 quilts, mostly from quilters in Cape Girardeau and Bollinger counties.

"For the Oliver House, we won't have many repeats [from last year]," Stoverink says. "Our batch is very eclectic because, at least as long as I'm running it, I like every kind of quilt. Some of the old utility quilts people bring are absolute works of art. I think the hard work of people and the quilts being used is as important as fine workmanship."

The Oliver House will display the eight quilts it has in-house, several of which are 100 years old or more.

Among those, Stoverink says two in particular are special to her.

"I have a soft spot for them because of the notes that came with them and knowing where they came from," she says.

The first is an Ocean Waves green diamond block pattern from 1853. The note attached to the quilt states, "This quilt was made in 1853 by Mrs. Elizabeth Whitten. She lived on a farm in Montgomery County, Illinois. Mrs. Whitten was the great, great grandmother of Mrs. Richard (Betty) Davis of Jackson."

Stoverink's other favorite is the orange-and-red Snow Crystal or Yankee Pride quilt that was made in 1912. There is a handwritten note attached to the back: "Edna Gartung, 209 Kate, City. This quilt was a wedding gift to me in 1912 from my grandmother. She pieced and quilted her self at an age 75."

Notes aside, Stoverink says she enjoys displaying quilts because they reflect the women who made them. "Even if the quilts are unsigned, they make an impact. The Oliver House is considered important not just for Mr. R.B. Oliver but also for his wife Marie, who designed the Missouri flag. Never underestimate the power of the needle and thread in the hand of a woman."


In conjunction with the Quilt Tour, the Oliver House will host an ice cream social from 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 25 on the lawn with guest speaker Dr. Frank Nickell.

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