Unique Antique Quilt with 168 Ink signatures of Presidents, Civil War Officers and Generals, Politicians, Authors, Suffragists, Scientists, etc.

Item: 19869
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19th-CENTURY NEW ENGLAND SIGNATURE QUILT. Bearing 168 ink signatures including President Chester A. Arthur; Civil War officers and Generals Benjamin Butler and Nathaniel P. Banks; congressmen; writers John Greenleaf Whittier and Samuel F. Smith, author of “America;” scientists; abolitionists and suffragists including Mary Livermore, Lucy Stone and John Brown’s widow, Mary. Accompanied by additional squares signed by President Rutherford B. Hayes and First Lady Lucy W. Hayes contained in a small frame and a framed 19th-century list of the quilt’s signers handwritten on lined paper. The red-white-and-blue “square in a square” signature or album quilt measures 76 inches x 88 inches. Boston, circa 1876-1884.

A 19th-century quilting bee

After indelible ink became commercially available in the 1830s, signature or album quilts began to appear. “Many of the blocks in the early album quilts of the 1840s and ‘50s featured elaborate ink signatures and small drawings and verses. By the time of the Civil War, album quilt inscriptions had become shorter and were more likely to include only the block maker’s name, and perhaps his or her hometown or date. Ink was used to sign and date quilts from the 1830s through the end of the century,” (Clues in the Calico: A Guide to Identifying and Dating Antique Quilts, Brackman).

Our quilt bears the signatures of luminaries of the Boston area including orators, writers, Civil War veterans, business leaders, public officials, explorers, clergymen, educators, and reformers. Our quilt was registered with the Wisconsin Quilt History Project in 1989, which offers the following provenance: “The quilt was found in an attic in Boston, and was purchased from an antique dealer in Connecticut. The signatures on the quilt are autographs of prominent persons in the Boston areas and includes Presidents Arthur and Hayes.” The Wisconsin Quilt History Project inventory number 272A is attached to the back of the quilt.

It is likely that the quilt was assembled to raise money for a charity, either through the auctioning of the finished quilt or by people paying a small fee to have their name placed in a block. A wonderful piece of Americana!


(Selected names from the first column of the framed list)

CHESTER A. ARTHUR (1829-1886). America’s twenty-first president.

JOHN D. LONG (1838-1915). 32nd Governor of Massachusetts (1880-1883).

BYRON WESTON (1832-1898). Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts (1880-1883).

BENJAMIN F. BUTLER (1818-1893). Union General in the Civil War; appointed military governor of New Orleans in May, 1862, but removed from that office in December. Served as 33rd Governor of Massachusetts 1883-1884.

NATHANIEL P. BANKS (1816-1894) Union general in the Civil War and 24th Governor of Massachusetts (1858-1861). His postwar career included six terms in Congress.

ALEXANDER H. RICE (1818-1895). 30th Governor of Massachusetts (1876-1879).

THOMAS TALBOT (1818-1886). 31st Governor of Massachusetts (1879-1880).

SAMUEL A. GREEN (1830-1919). 28th Mayor of Boston (1882).

HENRY L. PIERCE (1825-1896). 22nd and 26th Mayor of Boston (1873-1876, 1878).

HENRY B. PIERCE (1841-1898). 15th Secretary of State of Massachusetts (1876-1891).

JAMES H. DODGE. Boston City Auditor.

JAMES A. FOX (1827-1890). Mayor of Cambridge (1881-1885).

CARTER H. HARRISON (1825-1893). A cousin of President William Henry Harrison and 29th and 33rd Mayor of Chicago (1879-1887 and 1893) whose assassination was recounted in Erik Larson’s novel The Devil in the White City.

JOHN CONNESS (1821-1909). Senator from California from 1863-1869 and a pallbearer at Lincoln’s funeral.

B[ENJAMIN]. W. HARRIS (1823-1907). Representative to Congress from Massachusetts (1873-1883).

JOHN W. DANENHOWER (1849-1887). Lieutenant U.S. Navy who served aboard the ill-fated Jeannette’s arctic voyage. Plagued by eye problems caused by syphilis, he committed suicide in 1887. He is grandfather of Sloan Wilson, author of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.

A[MBROSE] A. RANNEY (1821-1899). Representative to Congress from Massachusetts (1881-1887).

FRANK A. ALLEN (1835-1916). Mayor of Cambridge (1877-1878).

PROF. JOHN KOVACS, Coloysvar, Hungary. In the 1890s he became minister of the HungarianReformed Church in Pennsylvania.

CHARLES H. ALLEN (1848-1934). Member of U.S. House from Massachusetts (1885-1889) and founder of Sugar Trust.

CHARLES W. ADAMS [?], “Chicago, Rebel Ram Tennessee.” The Rebel Ram Tennessee was a Confederate iron-clad vessel that was sunk off Mobile in 1864.

JOE JEFFERSON (1829-1905). Actor famous for his role as “Rip Van Winkle.”

GEORGE P. SANGER (1819-1890). U.S. Attorney of Massachusetts (1873-1882).

WINFIELD S. HANCOCK (1824-1886). American Civil War officer and presidential nominee.

COLONEL CARROLL D. WRIGHT (1840-1909). American statistician; 1st Commissioner of Labor (1885-1905).

JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER (1807-1892). American Quaker poet and abolitionist.

WILLIAM T. ADAMS (1822-1897). American academician and author, known as “Oliver Optic.”

WILLIAM H. BALDWIN. President Young Men’s Christian UN[ion].

THOMAS F. TEMPLE. Register of Deeds for Boston.

LABAN PRATT. Alderman for the city of Boston.

MOSES MERRILL. Headmaster Boston Latin School.

STILLMAN B. ALLEN (1830-?). Massachusetts politician.

SAMUEL G. ADAMS. Boston Superintendent of Police.

REV. S. F. SMITH (1808-1895). American Baptist clergyman, editor, and poet; author of the patriotic hymn, America.

REV. J. BANVARD, D.D. Baptist minister in Boston and the author of Curious Habits of Birds, The Young Observors; or how to learn without books and other works.

REV. J. J. LEWIS. Boston Clergyman, lecturer and the “apostle of the passion play in America.”

REV. JAMES FREEMAN CLARKE (1810-1888). American theologian and author, active in Boston.

REV. A. A. MINER D.D. Boston area clergyman and author of “The Doctrines of Universalism.”

REV. MINOT J. SAVAGE (1841-1918). Unitarian minister in Chicago, Boston and New York.

REV. EDWARD E. HALE (1822-1909). American author and Unitarian clergyman; published “The Man Without a Country” in the Atlantic Monthly which aroused patriotic fervor during the Civil War.

EDMUND J. BAKER (1804-1890).; Boston Surveyor and President Dorchester Fire Insurance Co.

C. E. NEUIBUHR (Probably Captain C. E. Niebuhr).

J. W. PHINNEY, possibly Joseph W. Phinney (1848-1934), prolific typeface designer, owner of Dickinson Foundry of Boston and a co-founder of the American Type Founders.

W.W. WHITMARSH. vice president of the Dorchester Savings Bank.

ASA ROBINSON, possibly Seventh Day Adventist missionaryAsa Robinson (1850-1949) who worked in New Bedford and Boston.

REV. CHARLES B. ELDER (1856-1944). pastor of the Church of the Unity, Worcester.

REV. ROBERT F. GORDON. (Trinity Congregational Church of Neponset).

LYMAN RHODES. Proprietor ofLyman Rhodes& Co.,Printers.

BENJAMIN P. ELDREDGE (1838-?). BostonSuperintendent of Police and author of Our Rival the Rascal: A Faithful Portrayal of the Conflict Between the Criminals of This Age and the Defenders of Society – The Police.

PHINEAS PIERCE. Trustee of the Boston Public Library.

J. L. SWIFT. Captain, Company C. 41st Regiment.

ARTHUR C. WELLINGTON. Colonel 1st Regiment Infantry

H. H. BURROWS. 7th Mass. Served in the Army of the Potomac and was wounded by grape shot in the spring of 1863.


WILLIAM HEDGE. 44th Mass. Union Lieutenant during the Civil War; sketches by him are in the collection of the University of North Carolina.

AUGUSTUS BRONSDON. Company F 57th Mass.

GEORGE W. RICHARDSON. Company I, 42nd Mass.

GEORGE H. BROWN. Company H., 27th Mass.

ELIJAH B. BAXTER. Company A., 13th New Hampshire served as a private during the Civil War.

D. P. O’REILY. 1st R[hode] I[sland] L[ight] I[nfantry].

H. S. COLE. 40th Mass.

GEORGE P. PHILIPS. Company M., 1st Mass.

H. W. HODGES. Company E., 18th Regiment, Mass.

WILLIAM H. TILESTON. 42nd Regiment, Mass. Served as a second sergeant in the Civil War.

S. B. BURGESS. Company B. 21st Regiment, Mass.

W. W. MANSFIELD. Company B, 2nd Mass Cavalry.

S.A. CUSHING. 42nd Regiment.

W. F. OSBORNE. Company C, 29th Regiment.

GEORGE FRENCH. 32nd Regiment, Mass.

JOHN WARD. U.S. Brig. Bainbridge.

H.P. OAKMAN. Company R 38th Mass.

ROBERT A. MILLER. 1st Lieutenant Company B 9th Regiment.

DANIEL H. PACKARD. 45th & 58th Mass.

GEORGE A. FISHER. Company C. 5th Mass.

WILLIAM HARRIS. Company I, 42nd Mass.

JAMES CHUTE. Company I, 4th Heavy Artillery.

(Selected names from the second column of the framed list)

RUTHERFORD B. HAYES (1822‑1893). Nineteenth president of the United States. Hayes held the presidency from 1877 to 1881.

LUCY HAYES (1831-1889). American abolitionist and temperance advocate who became the first lady of the United States as the wife of President Rutherford B. Hayes.

WILLIAM F. TEMPLE. Secretary of Dorchester Insurance Company.

REV. WARREN CUDWORTH (1825-1883). Unitarian Minister in Boston.

CHARLES F. CHOATE. President O[ld] C[olony] Railroad from 1877-1907.

J. R. KENDRICK, (?-1896). Superintendent Old colony Railroad and, later, Vice President of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.

H. W. LONGLEY. Fire Commissioner. Commissioner of Boston Fire Department.

MRS. JOHN BROWN, “widow of Jno. Brown ‘Harper’s Ferry’” Mary Ann Day Brown (1817-1884). Mary was 16 years old when she married the widowed Brown in 1833. She bore him 13 children before he became a martyr to the abolitionist cause during the 1859 raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry.

MRS. MARY A. LIVERMORE (1820-1905). American author, reformer and suffragist; the only female reporter at the convention which nominated Lincoln, she also delivered the opening address at the first women’s suffrage convention in Chicago.

MRS. MARY F. EASTMAN. Author and women’s rights advocate.

MRS. ADELINE D.T. WHITNEY (1824-1906). Poet and prolific writer of children’s books who espoused traditional roles for women and girls and, privately, opposed women’s suffrage.

MRS. LUCY STONE (1818-1893). Abolitionist, suffragist and women’s rights advocate as well as the first woman from Massachusetts to earn a college degree. She became well known as an orator and writer.

HORATIO N. GLOVER (1827-?). Boston businessman.

HENRY W. LONGLEY, JR. Boston fire commissioner.

JOHN SHEPARD.Founder of Shepard Department Stores.

EBEN D. JORDAN (1822-1895). Co-founder of department store chain Jordan Marsh in 1841.

B. JOY JEFFRIES (1833-1915). Boston-born ophthalmologist.

CHARLES W. SLACK (1817-1906). Editor of Commonwealth (1825-1885).

CHARLES SOULE (1842-1913). Civil War veteran, book dealer and library designer.

THOMAS L. HARMON. Boston’s assistant postmaster.

CHARLES H. CODMAN (1829-1883). Proprietor of Photographic Supplies Company. Died in a fire after inhaling nitric acid fumes.

WILLIAM F. BARTLETT (1840-1876). A Boston native who enlisted as a private with the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia and rose to the rank of general.

GEORGE CLAPP. A prominent builder of Greek Revival houses in the Boston area.

H. A. ALLYN. Co. I. 42d Mass.


WILLIAM ADAMS. Co. A. 14th Regiment M.V.

E. F. FIELD. 27th Reg. M.V.M.

J.E. POWERS. Co. H 16th reg. M.V.M.

H.E. SMITH. Co. H 56th Reg. M.V.M.

ROBERT B. PALFREY. Co. A 43rd Reg. M.V.M.

C.M. FALES. Co. F 18th Reg. M.V.M.

B. READ WALES. Co. G. 45th Reg. M.V.M.

C.B. FOX. 13th & 55th Reg. M.V.M.

CHARLES DUNN. Co. H. 39th Reg. M.V.M.

CHARLES W. KIMBALL. Co. H. 39th Reg. M.V.M.


J.T. WARD, JR. Co. C. 43rd Mass.

LIEUT. F[RANCIS] L. HARRIS. (1824-1913). U.S. Naval officer and last survivor of the Isaac I. Hayes Arctic Expedition towards the North Pole, 1860-1861. His journals are in the collection of Harvard College Library.


F.A. MANSFIELD. Co. E 61st Mass.

ROBERT BISHOP. Co. A. 1st Bat. Heavy Artillery.

E. JARVIS BAKER. 42nd Mass.

GILMAN L. HILL. Co. H. 39th Mass.

G.W. LAMB. Co. R. 7th Conn. Vol.

LEWIS A. HORTON, U.S.S. R.I. (1842-1916). “Written by a veteran who lost both arms and writes with his mouth.” Horton was a Medal of Honor winner who lost both arms in an 1863 accident aboard the USS Rhode Island. Despite being a double amputee, he learned to write, worked in a customs house and even enjoyed racing yachts.

HENRY D. POPE. 3rd Mass Cav.

L. O. WOLCOTT. Co. D 53rd Mass.

W.C. CLAPP. 44th Mass.

LUTHER MOULTON. Co. I 38th Mass.



LIEUTENANT GOV. OLIVER AMES (1831-1895). Future governor of Massachusetts, 1887-1890.

Unique Antique Quilt with 168 Ink signatures of Presidents, Civil War Officers and Generals, Politicians, Authors, Suffragists, Scientists, etc.

$9500 • item #19869

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