For centuries, quilt patterns and quilting techniques have been passed down from generation to generation and within generations, from sister-to-sister, cousin-to-cousin, or friend-to-friend. Without formal training, many quilters relied on their more experienced relatives to teach them the best methods. The museum is fortunate to have two quilts from the same family, the Reeds of Anderson, South Carolina, both donated by Helen Allen Stanbury, a New Yorker who was a native of Anderson. Caroline Hammond Reed and Frances Kingsley Reed were mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, respectively. Their quilts reveal that both women were excellent quilters – visually astute and technically skilled.

Teresa Caroline Hammond Reed (1819-1887) was born in Franklin, Georgia. After her marriage in 1835 to Jacob Pinckney Reed, a judge from a prominent South Carolina family, she lived in Anderson, South Carolina, for the rest of her life. Her quilt is a “Double Irish Chain” (there are single and triple versions of the pattern), a pattern that “first appeared around the second quarter of the nineteenth century, usually in calicoes and glazed chintzes, but returned to popularity during the Colonial Revival.” [1]

Reed’s quilt is nearly identical to one featured in North Carolina Quilts. [2] Made in a North Carolina county only two counties away from Reed’s home in South Carolina, the circa 1870 quilt shares the same red and green color scheme, plain ivory ground, and diamond pattern. Less common is Reed’s use of a three-part straight border framing the chain pattern, making an already graphic pattern even more graphic. This is the kind of modern touch that Jonathan Holstein explored in his 1971 show of graphic quilts at the Whitney Museum in New York. In his book, The Pieced Quilt: An American Design Tradition, Holstein included a circa 1850 “Double Irish Chain” quilt with a border that is very much like Reed’s design. [3] The Shelburne Museum in Vermont considers a circa 1840-1860 example of a “Double Irish Chain” quilt, nearly identical to Reed’s, as a masterpiece of their collection.

Jeffery McCullough is a recent graduate of the Masters Program in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies offered by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in conjunction with Parsons School of Design at The New School.

[1] Hanson, Marin F. and Patricia Cox Crews. American Quilts in the Modern Age 1870-1940, 8.
[2] Roberson, Ruth Haislip, ed. North Carolina Quilts, 18.
[3] Holstein, Jonathan. The Pieced Quilt: An American Design Tradition, plate 93.

11 thoughts on “All in the Family

Very interesting. I did not know about this quilt, but Teresa Caroline Hammond Reed (1819-1887) is my great, great, great grandmother.

Oh I am so glad that you commented and made the family connection! I will email you my long version of writing on BOTH quilts. Once you have read both, if you have any further information you would like to share, you can email that information.

I’ll look forward to getting the long version and will check with some older relatives who might know something additional Thank you.

Helen Stanbury is my Great Aunt. I was raised in Anderson, SC. This is so facinating and even if the exhibit is no longer ongoing, please send me your findings and writings also. This is amazing!!

Please post a photo of the second Reed quilt in your collection. Teresa Caroline Hammond Reed was my 2nd great grandmother; would love to see her handiwork.

Oh I am so glad that you commented and made the family connection! I will email you my long version of writing on BOTH quilts. Once you have read both, if you have any further information you would like to share, you can email that information.

I would love a copy of your long form as well. I am a cousin. Teresa Caroline Reed was my great great Grandmother.

Oh I am so glad that you commented and made the family connection! I will email you my long version of writing on BOTH quilts. Once you have read both, if you have any further information you would like to share, you can email that information.

I tried to correct my reply but it jumped ahead.

Excellent! We look forward to seeing the full article and the 2nd quilt by Frances Kingsley Reed

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