This book series shares the stories and photos of Linda Hubalek’s pioneer ancestors that homesteaded in Kansas in the 1800s. The Kansas Quilter series continues the family stories written in Hubalek’s Trail of Thread series.
A bonus section tells the "Story behind the story" of the Kansas Quilter series and features photos of some of the quilts that the Pieratt family made.
Excerpt from Tying the Knot
“But my ma made it…”
Both my mother-in-law Harriet and I glance up at the words James Monroe just uttered softly. Does my big father-in-law have a tear in his eye?
His fingers slowly rub the corner of the tattered string quilt and he has the most mournful look I have ever seen on his worn, bearded face.
Harriet had brought down a pile of old quilts stored upstairs in their home that she thought we could use on our wagon trip.
We were going through them in the kitchen while James Monroe sat at the kitchen table, having his usual afternoon cup of coffee and a slice of pie.
I look back at the quilt. Its blocks are arranged in groups of four to form a diamond pattern. It’s a combination of light and dark shirt silk and cotton material with odds and ends of red and blue blocks mixed in, in odd places. I pick up the opposite end of the quilt where there is a bright red block. Looking closer I see it’s not the original fabric, but newer material. I’m guessing the five red blocks, have been patched over worn out spots on the quilt.
The backing is one sheet of old flannel and the filling isn’t too lumpy. It would be perfect to use as outside bedding on our trip, or use as a tent to shield the children from sun or rain. I’m certainly not going to use my good quilts for that purpose.
Why is James Monroe being sentimental about a thread-bare quilt?
“I was ten when I left Kentucky with my parents and five siblings. I remember Ma packing her trunks, stewing about what she had to pack for the family’s survival and what she had to leave behind. My father kept harping about only the necessities were to be taken along because there was only so much room in the wagon bed, and she was stuffing it past capacity the way it was. The team had to pull the wagon all the way to Kansas, and they didn’t have money to buy new teams along the way if the animals wore out from hauling too heavy a load day in and out.”
James Monroe keeps pulling the quilt his way until he tugs it out of my hands. Then he wraps the quilt in his forearms as if he is protecting it from two deranged women.
Harriet and I just look at each other and then back to the man clutching the quilt and lost in thought.
“Tell us about your ma and this quilt,” I say as I sink down into one of the chairs at the table.
Maybe if James Monroe talks about the quilt he’ll give it up, plus the others that were piled on the floor. I need those quilts and Harriet is glad to pass them on—probably because she didn’t make them and has no sentimental value attachment to them.
Come to think about it, I’d be a little sentimental about some things that I grew up with too, so I better not be impatient with my father-in-law.