Wednesday, January 23, 2013

GSQ Friendship Quilt

Every year members of Garden State Quilters make a friendship quilt and those who work on it get to put their name on a piece of paper for a drawing at the Strawberry Supper in June. When my friend Rachel Cochran was president of the guild in 1996 I was in charge of the Friendship Quilt.

My idea was to make a New Jersey-style 1840s quilt set on the diagonal with leaves around the outer edges. The block idea came from the Mary P. Allen Album Quilt in Sandi Fox's book, For Purpose and Pleasure, p. 46-48.

Natalie Hart provided some of the red fabrics and when Rita Erickson and I were at the Quilters Hall of Fame celebration in 1995 I purchased 1/2 yard of the blue oak leaf stripe but had no idea at the time what I was going to use it for. Well, it was the perfect stripe for the sashing in this quilt but I needed more. I called the fabric store in Marion, IN, where I thought I bought it and they had no idea what I was talking about! Fortunately, Natalie found it at Joanne Fabrics right here in NJ.

My intention was to have everyone sign their name and/or draw a picture for the center square in each block. I drafted the block pattern and made up several samples so I could experiment with placement and color. Susan McKelvey, author of Friendship's Offering was coming to lecture at our meeting and do a workshop on writing on quilts so it was the perfect opportunity for anyone who wanted to get some ideas and learn a new technique. 

I put together 85 packets with fabrics and instructions and began selling them at the October meeting for $3.00 each. Blocks had to be returned by the January meeting and when they started coming in I was thrilled to see such creativity! 


Natalie put her signature in a leaf motif. 


Rachel added books.  


Rita Erickson did a sheaf of wheat.


Irene Aspell drew horses. 

Mary Lou Nichols did a sunflower.

And Sylvia Morgenstern drew an Iris.

Natalie and I assembled the quilt in January and then turned it over to guild member Lois Griffith who added the backing and sent it out to be quilted. It was hand quilted by Mattie Hershberger, an Amish quilter in NY state. By the May meeting it had been returned and I put the binding on Memorial Day weekend. The quilt was done on May 30, 1997--label and all.

Guild member, Anna Lega, won the quilt at the June meeting. Lucky her!

Copyright 2013, Barbara Schaffer

Monday, January 14, 2013

Samuel Bower - Not A Family Man

My maternal gr-grandfather, Samuel Bower, was born in Lawrence, MA, in 1858, married Irene McCord in West Farms, NY, in 1886, left his family in 1901, and died in 1913.

Sam Bower was the 5th child of English immigrants, Robert Bower and Phebe Marsland. In 1880 he was 22 years old living with his older brother, William and family, in Rhode Island. His occupation was "working for a printer."


He was Commander of Oliver Tilden Post #26 in NYC in January 1885 and again from 1892-98. Membership in the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War was open to any man who could prove his ancestry to a member of the Grand Army of the Republic or to a veteran eligible for membership in the GAR. Sam's father, Robert Bower, served in the Civil War with the 50th MA Volunteers from 1862-63.

During his term of office, he instituted the Vanderbilt Auxiliary, an organization open to wives, mothers, sisters and all female descendants of Civil War veterans, as well as widows, nieces, and grandnieces. Years later, his daughter, Leila Bower Kroepke would serve as its president from 1915-1917.

Sam married Irene McCord on November 4, 1886 at Grace Church in West Farms, Bronx, NY. He was 28 years old, she was 19. He gave her a gold wedding band engraved "1886." 

Irene Florence McCord, daughter of James McCord and Maria Miller, was born August 1, 1867. I believe this is her wedding photo. Her left hand prominently displaying a wedding ring :-)

Sam and Irene had two children, Stanton M. Bower (my grandfather) born 1888 and Leila Bower born 1890.

On the back of this c. 1895 photograph his daughter wrote: "Father, Samuel Bower, Uniform of Signal Corp." 

In the 1900 census the family was still together though Sam was unemployed. The following year he left home and never returned. Correspondence I had with relatives in the 1970s shed a little more light:

From Leila Bower Kroepke (his daughter), April 20, 1972:
"After Stan and Ethel were married and had Etta they got in touch with Samuel Bower and took the baby to see him - only once that I know of. I never saw him after he left home - until he died and was buried from Gleason Ave. Bronx . . .[my note: Stan and Ethel were my grandparents, Etta my mother. It's sad to think that my mother never knew her grandfather and that he never made the effort to stay in touch.]

From Josephine Bower Weeks (his niece), postmarked Feb. 24, 1979:
"When he [Sam] was sick with pernicious anemia, and he needed care, he lived with us for six weeks, thinking it would be a curative vacation, but was not so, as he died soon afterwards in New York. He was wonderful to me, I was his pet--and after he went back to N.Y. he sent me presents--one was a beaded bag, and, coming from N.Y., it was the envy of my schoolmates . . . Uncle Sam was a huge man, that is in height--I think he was well over 6 ft. He looked like my father, and, too, had many of the characteristics." [my note: this letter portrays a much more loving Sam Bower.]

In 1995 my Aunt Midge and I went to St. Michael's Cemetery in Astoria, Queens, NY. We knew the section, plot and # of Sam's grave so a very nice employee helped us find it by taking "giant steps" to pinpoint its exact location--between the two graves above. Unfortunately, there is no headstone. We were told it was probably buried when that section of the cemetery was cleaned up.

All in all, we were comforted in knowing that we finally "found him." I wonder if he "felt" the same about us.

As for Irene, she remarried but that is another story.


 Copyright 2013, Barbara Schaffer

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Benjamin W. Wooster R.I.P.

When we were in Albany, NY, the week before Christmas, I had made up my mind to spend some time at  Albany Rural Cemetery. There were times when I would take 200 photos at any given cemetery and then spend a month or two re-sizing and labeling them to post on Find A Grave. I was all prepared to take at least that many photographs when, after 30 or so, the memory card in my camera indicated it was FULL. Was I ever disappointed!

In large cemeteries I just wander and photograph gravestones that appeal to me. This monument with its graceful statue and three-dimensional ivy leaves caught my eye.



 Troy Daily Times, September 6, 1899

I found this ad in a local paper on Old Fulton NY Post Cards. This site is great for researching historical NY newspapers.