Benton County Cover-up: 19th Century Coverlets and Quilts

Benton County Coverup: 19th Century Coverlets and Quilts

Benton County Cover-up is an exhibition of 19th century coverlets and quilts from the museum's permanent collection. Coverlets are decorative woven bedspreads that often have intricate patterns that dazzle the eyes. Most of these coverlets were woven on looms in homes across North America. Many of them came to Oregon via wagon train and have been treasured by Oregon families since the mid-1800s. These cozy covers have never been shown together and some have never been exhibited publicly.

The exhibition was scheduled for January 24 - March 8, 2014, at Benton County Museum, Philomath, Oregon.

19th Century American Coverlets


Tied Beiderwand Coverlet

Circa 1840

Corvallis founder J. C. Avery and his wife Martha brought this coverlet with them over the Oregon Trail and used it in the cabin on the banks of the Marys River. Woven on a large loom, it has no center seam. The weave on the back is the reverse of the weave on the front. This is a tied Beiderwand coverlet.

19th century American jacquard coverlet from Corvallis Oregon pioneer Avery family

Piece of Overshot Coverlet


This piece of cotton and wool overshot weaving was probably cut out of a full size bedspread. The wool "skips" or "floats" that create the pattern lie on top of the background weave and were often damaged while in use. Perhaps an owner cut out the section that was damaged. The pattern is called Nine Snowballs and Table.


Before 1876

Robert and Elizabeth Weedin came west by wagon train from Missouri after the Civil War. They homesteaded land in what is now Seattle. Robert raised and sheared the sheep for the wool in this coverlet. Elizabeth spun the wool. Made on a 16 harness shaft loom, it was likely made by a professional weaver. It later passed to Elizabeth's daughter, Susan Weedin London, of Philomath, and to her granddaughter, Mary London Willet of Pedee, Oregon.

Coverlet from Washington pioneer Weedin family

Rose Wreath Coverlet

Before 1850

Made of wool and cotton, this coverlet has the same design on both sides but with the colors reversed.

Early 19th century Rose Wreath woven coverlet

Overshot Coverlet


Lucina Lamson Robison wove this blue and white overshot coverlet about 1863 with wool from the family farm in Missouri. In 1871, she brought it with her when she traveled by wagon train to Jacksonville, Oregon. Later they moved to Coos County, Oregon.

Overshot coverlet brought from Missouri to Oregon, 1863

Woven Coverlet

Circa 1865
Grayson County, Virginia

During the Civil War, a slave named Hannah wove the three sections of this coverlet. Malinda Currin, wife of plantation owner Robert Currin, sewed them together before bringing the coverlet to Oregon in 1872. Hannah, by then a free woman, did not come with them.

19th century woven coverlet

Woven Coverlet

Circa 1850

This bedspread was hand woven by Antoinette Van Alstyme and handed down to her great granddaughter, Ruth Carlson.

Overshot Coverlet

Circa 1850

Elizabeth Ann Brown (Mrs. William Sharp Brown), who lived from 1828 to 1908, made this coverlet in a pattern known alternatively as Bonaparte's March, Lily of the Valley, or Rose in the Wilderness.

Rose in the Wilderness 19th century American coverlet

Jacquard Woven Coverlet

Circa 1869
Wabash, Indiana

Frederick Schliffe purchased this woven jacquard coverlet as a wedding present for his daughter, Naomi Schliffe Hursh. Woven with its medallion star bordered by leaves, grapes, and feathers, it was one of the first few bedspreads made in the woolen mills of Wabash, Indiana.

1869 woven jacquard coverlet wedding present

Tree and Eagle Coverlet


Sarah Jacob Schliffe owned this double-weave coverlet in 1846. At some point, it was divided in half. The family brought this portion to Oregon in 1906. According to The National Museum of the American Coverlet, Charles Adolph was likely the Indiana weaver who wove it.

Tree & Eagle double-weave American coverlet

Woven Coverlet


Clara Poire Marquette used cotton (warp) and wool (weft) to weave this coverlet.

Canadian woven coverlet

Snowballs Coverlet

Circa 1800-1850
Ohio or Indiana

The pattern of this double-weave wool coverlet is called "Sixteen Snowballs." The border features pine trees.

16 Snowballs woven coverlet

Jacquard Bedspread

Bethany, NewYork

This wool and linen jacquard bedspread comes from Genesee County, in western New York. The corner square contains the name, R. Judd. The census lists a Rebeccas Judd living in Bethany about that time. As most jacquard weavers were men, she was probably the owner of this coverlet.

Gennesee County, NY, 19th century American coverlet bedspread

19th Century American Quilts


Lap Quilt

On July 1, 1848, Hannah Cook wrote in the top center block, "This work in hand, my friends may have when I am in my silent grave." The center consists of pieced blocks of the Birds in the Air pattern, and the side columns use the Hovering Hawks pattern. Machine quilting was added at a later date.

1848 American lap quilt

Diamond Star Quilt


This diamond star quilt was hand-pieced and hand-quilted. Made in Indiana, it came across the plains in 1852 with the Stewart family. The initials "M.A." embroidered in one corner probably refer to Martha Allen, the sister of Mrs. Stewart.

Diamond Star Quilt 19th century American

Bridal Quilt

Eastern United States
Circa 1820

The design for this appliqué quilt contains many traditional features of a bridal quilt: heart-shaped leaves, a pair of birds, and the single wreath symbolizing a wedding ring. The snowflake designs were created by folding and cutting paper patterns.

1820s American applique bridal quilt

Prairie Rose Quilt

Circa 1840-1860

The blocks appliquéd with the Prairie Rose alternate with plain blocks featuring wreath quilting. The Prairie Rose pattern is similar to the more common Mexican Rose pattern except for the shape of the leaves.

Prairie Rose pattern 19th century American quilt

Friendship Quilt


As a child Jennie Watkins came with her family to a farm 1.5 miles south of Philomath. This Christian Cross quilt was made for her by her friends and neighbors. Each block contains the embroidered signature of one of these contributors including Belle Skipton, the future Mrs. John Horner.

Detail image of signature on 1881 Oregon Friendship Quilt

Tree Quilt

Circa 1865

This quilt has plain blocks with quilted wreaths alternating with pierced and appliquéd blocks in a tree pattern. This pattern is also known as Carolina Lily, Cleveland Tulip, and Pineys (Peony). Sarah Ann Harlan Trago made this for the marriage of her daughter, Hanna, to Hiram Platt on November 2, 1865. The quilt travelled with the Platt family as they moved to Montana, Washington, and finally Corvallis in 1926.

19th century American Tree Quilt, Trago family

New York Beauty Quilt

Douglas County, Oregon

Elizabeth Lewis Buffington, the daughter of Haman and Mary Lewis, came to Oregon from Missouri in 1845 with the Stephen Meek party. She lived with her parents in Corvallis, but later moved to Douglas County with her husband James. She made quilts for each of her eight daughters. This one was made for her daughter Rose, who married Joel Wilcox of Philomath. She used a combination of machine piecing and hand appliqué to create this variation of the New York Beauty pattern.

New York Beauty Quilt, 1885 Douglas County, Oregon, USA

Crazy Quilt


Victorian women saved scraps of fabric that reminded them of special occasions, such as pieces from wedding dresses, baby clothes, and prize ribbons. The pieces were sewn together in random shapes and then embroidered. This crazy quilt was started by the grandmother of museum donor Vida Nettleton and finished by her mother.

1891 American Crazy Quilt