Soldier’s Mosaic Quilt

September, 2018

Soldier’s Mosaic Quilt

Jewett W. Curtis (1847–1927)

United States
91 x 67 inches (231 x 170 centimeters)

This is believed to be the earliest of three quilts identified as the work of Jewett Washington Curtis, the only American soldier known to have made mosaic quilts from wool in the British tradition. 

This quilt appears in the exhibition "War and Pieced: The Annette Gero Collection of Quilts from Military fabrics," on display May 25-September 16, 2018.

Curtis was born in Montpelier, Vermont, in 1847. He joined the army at the age of fourteen, enlisting as a drummer in Company K, 104th Regiment New York Infantry. Curtis served at various times throughout the Civil War and was hospitalized for a short time at Gettysburg in July 1863. He became a career soldier and was stationed in Alaska to maintain order during the Gold Rush between 1898 and 1899. 

It is not clear where or how he was introduced to quiltmaking; it is possible that he learned the art from British soldiers during the years that he was in Alaska. However, based upon the dates 1888 and 1893 contained in one example, it is more likely that they were made during periods when he was confined to a hospital, first from 1885 to 1891 for rheumatism, and again from 1892 to 1893, recovering from a finger amputation. 

Curtis died on March 20, 1927, in Walcott, New York, and is buried in the Soldiers’ Home National Cemetery in Washington, DC.

Take a closer look at the quilt in our online database.