Crazy quilt pillows made by Julia Beekman, a Victorian crazy quilt that once belonged to Ginger Rogers, and the Applegate Trail Quilt will be among the featured items when the Jacksonville Museum Quilters and Historic Jacksonville, Inc. celebrate Jacksonville History Saturday on June 14th at the 1873 Cornelius C. Beekman House.
This popular Jacksonville attraction, located at 470 E. California Street, was home to Jacksonville’s most prominent pioneer family and remains completely furnished with family artifacts. The June 14th event includes Victorian themed house tours between 12 noon and 4 pm with costumed docents talking about Victorian hobbies and the Beekmans’ personal collections and crafts. The Quilters will host quilting demonstrations, a 2 pm “bed turning,” and an “airing of the quilts” display, hanging quilts from the House balcony, in the House and Carriage House, on clotheslines, and along the picket fences.
“Even after the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of the sewing machine, quilting remained a popular pastime for women,” Carolyn Kingsnorth, President of Historic Jacksonville, explains. “At quilting parties—bees they were called—women could socialize without being considered idle. There are several utilitarian quilts that Julia Beekman made—she was an excellent seamstress—and her crazy quilt pillows are gorgeous!”
Crazy quilts are a combination of silk and velvet patchwork embellished with fancy stitching—a way for women to express their aesthetic sense and whimsy while having an attractive and useful product to show for it.
“In the 1890s, people became obsessed with crazy quilts,” Kingsnorth elaborates. “Some women even masqueraded as dry goods dealers to get silk sample books from textile manufacturers so they could add to their store of patches. Others raided the jacket linings of their fathers and brothers. Crazy quilts were part quilt, part scavenger hunt, and for many the search for scraps was as much a part of the fun as the construction of the quilt.”
The Victorian crazy quilt that belonged to Ginger Rogers was given to her when she was a young actress. “Her mother gave it to the Rogue Art Gallery,” says Nell Mathern, the Jacksonville Museum Quilters guild member organizing the quilt displays. “Robbie Collins [the individual credited with preserving Jacksonville and establishing the National Historic Landmark District] bought it and gave it to the Quilters.
“Whoever made it really liked horses,” she laughs. “There’s a lot of horse stuff on it including an 1892 ribbon from some horse race along with other horse and race details. And it has loads of fancy stitches.”
Also on display will be the Applegate Trail Quilt, which acknowledges the achievements of the pioneers who settled the Oregon Territory. It was made to honor George McUne, who built Jacksonville’s original Pioneer Village and who organized and led the 1976 Applegate Bicentennial Wagon Train reenactment. This quilt will be the subject of a special Rogue Valley Genealogical Society talk on Tuesday, June 24.
At 2 pm Mathern will be doing a ‘bed turning’ that showcases quilts with interesting histories. Significant quilts from the Jacksonville guild’s collection will be stacked on a bed, and Mathern will talk about each quilt before turning it down and sharing a story about the next one. “I always like to have a surprise at the end, and I have a doozy of surprise this time!” she assures.
Guild members will also be showing hand quilting techniques, and Joedy Kimmel will be demonstrating appliqué. Kimmel is the guild member who organizes the Jacksonville Museum Quilters’ annual Opportunity Quilt, the principal fundraiser for the guild.
The 2014 Opportunity Quilt, named ‘Floral Fantasy’, features a design created by Derek Lockwood of Chico, California. “He designed the pattern to be fusible, which is the easy way to appliqué, but Joedy converted it for needleturn appliqué” Mathern explains. “Traditional Needleturn is what we’re known for and the quilt is stunning! Each of our guild members made one of the blocks then we all hand quilted it. We’ll be selling raffle tickets on the quilt—$1 each, 6 for $5, or 30 for $20. The drawing will be July 19th and you don’t have to be there to win.”
‘Victorian Hobbies’ is just one of the events planned for the Beekman House this summer. The House will also be open from 12 noon to 4 pm on July 12, August 9, and September 13 as part of Jacksonville History Saturday.
“Beekman House July tours will talk about Victorian Medical Practices, August tours will focus on Victorian Music and Literature, and the September theme will be Travel in the Victorian Age,” says Kingsnorth. “We’re coordinating with the Friends of Jacksonville’s Historic Cemetery. During the 10 am cemetery tours, visitors can learn about Art and Artists, Victorian Food and Drink, the Rogue River Indian Wars, and the life of Minorities in the 1800s. They can also tour the Beekman Bank, the second oldest bank in the Pacific Northwest, and then learn more about life in the Victorian era at the Beekman House.”
Beekman House volunteer coordinator Stephanie Butler weighs in. “At the Beekman House, we’re offering everyone the enriching experience of understanding the family and the pioneer experience. The Beekmans helped establish the foundation of the communities we live in today. They were leaders, advocates and engaged citizens, and we are excited about sharing their legacy along with the stories of their lives and times.”
The C.C. Beekman House is located at 470 E. California Street in Jacksonville. Parking is available on site. Victorian Hobby tours are $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students; lawn activities are free. For additional information, call 541-245-3650, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted June 4, 2014