Feathered Star

January, 2018

Feathered Star

Made by Rebecca Ellen Slyh Richards (1830-1890)

Franklin County, Ohio
Dated May 21 1852
Gift of Robert Hughes, 1997.009.0001

The quilt’s pattern incorporates three devices characteristic of the central Ohio region: pieced feathered stars (8-point stars accented by a border of right-angle triangles), floral appliqué borders, and stuffed quilting designs. Richards’s quilting measures a dense 14 to 16 stitches per inch.

Rebecca Slyh was almost 22 years old when she signed and dated this floral-bordered quilt in tiny cross-stitch letters and numbers. She added an inscription that includes her own version of a well-known prayer.

It reads:

MAY THE 21 AD 1852
Jesus permit thy gracious name to stand
As an effort of A youthful hand
Write thy name upon my heart     
And with thy dear children let me share a part.  

According to research conducted by Joan Laughlin, a member of our Genealogical Task Force, Slyh was born in Ohio about 1830. She and her husband Francis Richards lived in Brown Township, Franklin County, Ohio, and had three children. Her daughter Viola (1858-1943) married Henry John Hughes in 1871. By 1880, the newlyweds lived in Red Oak, Montgomery County, Iowa. The family eventually moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where she lived the rest of her life.

The quilt was donated by her grandson Robert Hughes in 1997. It holds the distinction of being the first quilt donated to the International Quilt Museum following the founding gift of nearly 1,000 quilts from Robert and Ardis James.

Feathered Star appears in Made by Hand: American Quilts in the Industrial Age, which is on display in the Coryell gallery through April 29, 2018. You will also find it on the cover of American Quilts in the Industrial Age, 1760-1870 (University of Nebraska Press, 2018).

Watch https://youtu.be/hKZj1SfnZiE for more.