The home of Cindy Blair in Central, SC, has added it’s forth quilt block to the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail. The name of the pattern is Irish Chain, a much loved pattern, with several variations. The most common are the Single Irish Chain and the Double Irish Chain. Current documentation on Irish Chain indicates that it was developed in America in the early 1800s. Quilt historian Barbara Brackman, states that 1814 is the earliest known date for this pattern. She goes on to say, “Dated examples appear consistently across the decades, indicating the design’s popularity throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.”
The quilt will be mounted on the upper doors of the workshop/studio of Ben Wingert, currently the garage under transformation at the Blair-Wingert residence. Ben Wingert’s grandmother, Elizabeth Miller, of Chambersburg, PA is the quilter. She is 93 years old now and still resides on the family farm in a “doty house.” An Amish tradition, the doty house is designed for the care of older relatives who need medical attention or can no longer live independently.
This Double Irish Chain quilt would have been made by a group of Mennonite women for Elizabeth’s daughter (Ben’s mom), Rhoda Miller Wingert, for her dowry. Five to ten women would gather together at the home to complete a quilt of this size. Several quilts were made for each daughter or grand-daughter and added to their “hope chest.” This tradition continues in the Mennonite Community of the Old Order River Brethren today.
Local quilter and teacher, Dixie Haywood tells us the pattern consists of alternate nine-patches and plain blocks and was apparently first published by the Mountain Mist Co., which sold quilt batting and for over 50 years, including patterns in rolls of batting, in addition to selling patterns separately (since the batting patterns were ‘pot luck’). They started publishing patterns in 1920, but Irish Chain probably predates that, since it is such a simple design.
Cindy Blair is a dedicated volunteer with the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail. In fact, she brought the idea of creating a quilt trail in the Upstate to a group of others after a driving trip up to the Ohio area. She saw quilt blocks that had been painted on barns and thought the idea a good one to honor the history and cultural traditions of the area and to expand tourism in the Upstate.
The “Appalachian Honor” barn quilt hangs at Holly Springs Country Store located at the intersection of Highways 11 & 178 in upper Pickens County, SC. It serves as a reminder to all those who view it that, “all gave some, but some gave all.”
The fabric quilt, quilted by Paula Rivers with the assistance and expertise of Lucy Harward, is done in the log cabin pattern. Paula wanted to make a quilt that would honor the veterans of this area, as well as their families. She found a picture of a quilt she liked but could not find a pattern for it. Lucy said “no problem” and with her years of quilting experience, quickly turned out a pattern for their quilt and they began the sewing and quilting.
War has touched the lives of almost everyone through the years. The community of Holly Springs, although small in number, is no exception. Ralph Chastain, who owned and operated the Holly Springs Store from the 1940’s to the late 1970’s, was a veteran of World War II. When he returned home from the war he found the little clapboard store closed. At that time it sat beside Highway 178 across from Holly Springs Baptist Church. He quickly set about reopening it to serve the local population.
It was not that many years later that another call to service was sent and several of Holly Spring’s finest boys were drafted into the Vietnam conflict. Some never returned. Woody Chastain and Buddy Gilstrap are two who lost their lives at a very young age. Hub Smith, a local native, remembers the day a military officer came into Holly Springs store to ask directions to the Chastain home. He had come to deliver the devastating news no parent ever wants to hear. There are others who are still frequent customers at the store who survived war, including Frank Sobin, a veteran of three foreign wars. They all served their country honorably during various conflicts.
Major Bill Rivers bought Holly Springs Country Store in the early 1980’s. He was just retired from 22 years in the United States Air Force as a navigator on B-52’s. During his career, he flew more than 175 missions over Vietnam.
This barn quilt is also dedicated to the “unsung heroes” of war. Our unsung heroes include those family members left here while their loved ones were away in service. Mothers and fathers who spent sleepless nights worrying and praying for their sons and daughters, sometimes only to have their worst fear realized. Paula’s father, Verdell Aiken, was drafted into WWII along with his three brothers. She said “I can’t imagine the anxiety my grandmother endured having all her sons in a war zone at the same time. Then there are the wives of servicemen who for months or years at a time essentially raised their children alone.
Of course, we cannot forget the children who grew up during some of the most critical years of their lives without a father figure in the household while anxiously wondering if daddy would ever come home. Cameron Rivers, son of Bill Rivers, and Paula’s husband, who is the current owner of Holly Springs Country Store, was one of those children. He said, “When dad was away on missions, I remember being at elementary school on Base and seeing the CNO (Casualty Notification Officer) coming down the hall. I would keep my head down and try to be invisible, terrified it might be me who was getting the bad news this time.”
This quilt of valor celebrates a long line of veterans that have both directly and indirectly impacted the lives of the people in this little Appalachian community called Holly Springs. Some have been long time residents while others have moved here more recently. According to statistics, Pickens County, South Carolina has more Medal of Honor recipients per capita than any other county in the United States of America. Thus, the name “Appalachian Honor”.
The Lewis-McDaniel Home, owned by Edward Preston McDaniel, Jr. and his wife Betty Willis McDaniel, is joining the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail. The quilt pattern Cathedral Window, is called Highland Farm and tells the story of their families. The cloth quilt was originally made by Betty’s paternal grandmother, Esther Gray Willis (David) and her sister, Matilda Gray Dryman (Fred). They worked for two years on the quilt while in their 70’s.
“Aunt Tilly lived in Charlotte, NC, and Grandmother lived in Raleigh, NC, 150 miles apart, and they would drive back and forth to have their own quilting bee. I was in high school at the time and Grandmother Willis lived next door. She showed me how to make the cathedral quilt ‘squares’ and told me that one day the quilt would be mine. It’s on our bed right now.”
The Lewis-McDaniel Home was deeded to Henry Jacob Lewis sometime before 1871. The original house was probably built in the 1840’s by the Lewises and was made up of a 20 x 20 foot 2 story log house. Around the time Henry J moved in, another 2 story 18 x 24 foot ‘wing’ was added with a front porch. The Lewises and their descendants lived in the home until around 1950 when it was vacated. Ed and his brother Ken bought the house and land in 1968. Their paternal grandmother had been a Lewis. In 1979, Ed and Betty married and began renovating the old home. The earlier ‘wing’ had to be demolished because it was in such disrepair. However, some of the wood from the original house was used to make cabinets by Jack Parris. The section built in 1871 was left much the same with all of the original floors and walls made of heart of pine.
We know the early Lewises farmed the land because there was a barn and a cotton house still located on the property. We conclude that they farmed cotton much of the time along with produce and had some livestock. Ed’s dad, E. Preston McDaniel, lived next door and was a dairy farmer with help from his four sons. He was also Clerk of Court from 1933 – 1972. Ed farmed the family land with his brothers growing tomatoes, pumpkins, corn, strawberries as well as raising livestock. His day job was as a rehabilitation counselor for the Commission for the Blind for over 20 years. Betty taught at Holly Springs Elementary for 31 years.
For more information visit (www.uhqt.org).