Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail in Upstate, SC, Recognizes Oldest Quilt

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“The Starke 1834 Baby Quilt” is thought to be the oldest recognized on the trail. Sally Oliver (Mrs. Felix) Gravino of Mountain Rest, SC, has sponsored this quilt that was originally made by her Great-great-great grandmother Margaret Evans Larkin Rochelle Starke of the Camden area for her daughter Charlotte Jane Starke (Nelson), born in 1834. Charlotte Jane later transposed her names to Jane Charlotte.

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This crib quilt is appliqued with chains of roses cut out from printed floral chintz fabric, a technique called “broderie perse.” These large floral prints were among the popular consumer goods imported from England in the early 1800s. In South Carolina, quilt makers continued to favor floral chintzes for their quilts for another 50 to 70 years. The original colors have faded, particularly in the border fabric.  The blue leaves around the roses were originally green. Early fabric printers used a two-step process for printing green, first applying blue, then overprinting with yellow. The background fabric is unbleached sheeting which has aged to a soft ecru color. The cotton batting used in the quilt likely came from the Starke plantation.  The quilt was handmade, using 12 stitches to the inch. Great-great-great-grandmother Starke demonstrated a familiarity with geometry, in drafting and stitching the “egg and dart” motifs quilted into one of the borders.

Sally told us, “Jane Charlotte used the quilt as a baby, then her daughter Margaret Maria Nelson (Bauskett) used it in 1866; then her daughter Jane Starke Bauskett (Trantham) used it in 1891; then her daughter (my mother) Priscilla Ann Trantham (Oliver) used it in 1924; then I used it in 1950 (Sara Louise Oliver [Gravino]); and then my daughter Sara Ellen Gravino (Velissarios) used it in 1975.

The quilt is in amazing condition considering its age and how much it has been used over the years. This quilt has functioned as a family heirloom through six generations (so far) of our South Carolina family.”

Sally is a faithful and devoted volunteer with the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail. Though not a quilter, she is an artist and has helped establish new techniques to recreate the fabrics and patterns seen in the trail quilt blocks. Her quilt block is located next to 302 Chattooga Lake Road, Mountain Rest, viewable from the road or the cul de sac. The original cloth quilt has been donated to the Camden Archives along with other Starke family letters and artifacts.

For more information, click on (www.uhqt.org).

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