How is this for serendipity . . .
On Tuesday, 7 June 2011 we received two gifts for the collection from Barb Routledge, Doaktown, New Brunswick. One is a New Brunswick Reader, First Primer used by Mrs. Routledge’s mother, Cora Appleby, at the Hampstead School. It is inscribed with Cora’s name and the date of September 1917. Also included is the teacher’s name and all of the students, 28 in all. A really valuable piece of Queens County heritage. Cora was the daughter of Melbourne Appleby and Della Hamilton and worked as a stenographer at the time of her marriage to Charles Vernon Short, a granite polisher at the Quarries, 1 October 1932. They lived at Hampstead, in a house that held the second telephone exchange.
The other item was a red and white quilt in the Double Irish Chain pattern. The quilt belonged to Alice Slipp Vanwart, the daughter of James Slipp (c. 1813-1877) and Martha Jones (1828 – 1910). Alice was born 14 February 1870 and stayed at home with her mother after the death of her father in the late 1870s. A year after her mother’s death in 1910, Alice Slipp married John Edward Vanwart (1859-1950), a carpenter from Evandale and the son of John O. and Phebe Vanwart of the Vanwart Hotel (now the Evandale Resort). Since Alice and John married rather late in life, they had no children and lived in a large house in the village of Hampstead that stood until the 1980s when it burned. John Vanwart died in 1950 and the widowed Alice went to live with and be cared for by a trusted friend and neighbour, Cora Appleby Short. Upon Alice’s death in 1951, her house and its contents were bequeathed to Cora. The quilt then descended through Cora’s family to our donor, Mrs. Routledge.
The quilt is dated between 1890 and 1910. It is a red and white cotton with hand-pieced and appliquéd blocks that were in turn stitched together by machine. The checkered blocks have 25 hand-pieced squares; the white blocks have 4 red squares appliquéd to the corners. The binding is hand-sewn with rounded corners. The backing is white cotton in two full strips and a 4-5 inch strip to get the full double width. The old cotton batting with chaff is evident when the quilt is held up to a window. The quilting is very fine, illustrating a skilled maker, and is a diagonal, geometric pattern that compliments the overall Double Irish Chain. Was the quilt made by Alice or her mother, Martha Jones Slipp? Certainly Martha was good with a needle as in the collection of the New Brunswick Museum is her 1839 sampler and a log cabin quilt made near the end of her life. Alice, one would assume, would have inherited this skill and like most other women of her time, would have been making quilts for everyday use. Was the quilt part of her trousseau? Perhaps, but we don’t know.
Back to serendipity . . . what is so coincidental about the donation? The quilt was given to Queens County Heritage on Alice L. Slipp’s 100th wedding anniversary, 7 June 1911. And added to that, 7 June 2011 is also Martha Jones Slipp’s 183rd birthday. We think the donation, on Tuesday, was meant to be!