King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum is given Historic 1857–9 King and Queen Quilt Face. (January 2011)

At the meeting of its Museum Council on January 26th the King and Queen Historical Society was presented an historic 1857–9 King and Queen quilt face by Mrs. Helen Marion McNeely Brown of Hanover County, Virginia.

What is a quilt face? What is its connection to King and Queen County? Why is it historic? A quilt face is a fabric top for a quilt that consists of 36 handmade squares and is eighty inches by eighty inches. The fabric cover would have later been sewn onto quilting material to create a quilt. In this case it was never made into a quilt, but carefully kept enclosed in a box maintaining the original vibrant colors. Each of the 36 squares has been individually made, most have been dated by hand, and then sewn together.

The quilt face is connected to King and Queen county through ownership and the names signed on the quilt. Mrs. Brown is the widow of Randolph Pendleton Brown of Hanover County who was the grandson of Mary Pendleton Taylor who was born at Green Mount in King and Queen County in 1845. It appears that most of the squares were signed. Although some of the signatures have now faded, they include many King and Queen names: Martha Fleet, 1857; Sallie B. Ryland, 1858; Sarah Haynes; Mattie Fleet; M. E. Haynes; L. M. Bartlett, Ala. Oct. 1859; Susan F. Ryland, 1858; Sarah R. Clark; and Dorothea F. Walker, 1859, Society Hill. The family connection to King and Queen County, as well as the names and dates, make it a special King and Queen item.

Mrs. Brown was interested in having the quilt face return to King and Queen County and believed that the Historical Society’s Museum would be the appropriate place for the preservation, display and research of the quilt face. The Museum last year had an exhibit displaying quilts made and owned in King and Queen County. Hand-made quilts were especially popular before the Civil War. It provided a good opportunity for get-togethers in quilting bees. They were often made and given on special occasions, such as weddings. After the Civil War, with the increased use of machinery for production, hand-made quilts were not made as often. It is unusual to find quilt top of such age in such good condition. Page McLemore, President of the Historical Society, and Jack Spain, Chairman of the Museum Council, accepted the quilt face from Mrs. Brown at the meeting and gave her a tour of the Museum, including its two bedrooms where the quilt face will most likely be displayed. They noted that this will significantly add to the collection of the Museum and be a treasure for King and Queen County.