Connecting Through Quilts and Genealogy

Recently I purchased a beautiful 1930’s era quilt off of ebay. It was listed as ‘Vintage Texas 1930s 14 Point Star Quilt’. As I began to read more of the description, I realized this quilt had a story. It was in the hands of her grandson, Charles  Merrill, who had lovingly inherited her from his mother. The quilt had been hand sewn which immediately perked my interest (as I only quilt/sew in that pioneer fashion of no machine). The lister went on to say he had no children to pass the quilt on to, which was one reason for selling along with wanting her to go to someone who would appreciate her. No one else had made an offer/bid – it seemed I was destined to caretake this beauty.

Hand pieced and quilted by Alice Hall 

14 Points Quilt .jpg

14 Points is pleasantly worn just as the listing had said, with some age spots and storage stains but nothing that can’t be overlooked.  She was loved – that’s what I know. There is a lovely flower border on two sides. She is not a true white, but rather an eggshell color that dominates her front and solid backing.

14 Points Quilt2.jpg

Her stars are tired but her stitching is strong. Sadly she is not signed by Alice but the fact she was past down and kept in her family adds to her worth. Immediately I knew I wanted to know more about Alice Hall and her family ~ combining my love of quilting with genealogy.

14 Points was handcrafted by Marion Alice Hall nee Charles and this is her story.

Marion known as Alice was born March 1890 in White County, Tennessee. She was the daughter of John Green Charles b. Dec 1855 and Nancy Frances Wamack b. Sept 1861; both of Tennessee. John G. Charles’s roots run deep in the south, farmers, and Nancy France’s roots run deep into the history of our country. She descends from William Wamack/Womack, Sr, of Henrico Co. Virginia. There is a considerable amount of information on this family that can be found with a simple google search. The Wamack American roots started in about 1640 as immigrants from England.

I first found John Green Charles (4) living with his parents James Charles and Eliza Templeton in the 1860 census in White Co. TN.  John was one of four children, older sister Serina (6), Martha (3) and Solomon (1). A Lydia Harty (14) was also living with the family. James was a farmer and his personal property was valued at $400. Eliza tended the home and cared for the children. I am sure she saw her share of farm chores and I like to think of her piecing a quilt by candlelight in the early evenings when all was quiet at home. A son named Munrow joined the family in 1864.

Alice’s Parents

 John Green Charles and  Nancy Frances Wamack married on July 5, 1876.

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By 1880 Nancy Frances had given birth to two sons, James Luther (1878) and William (1879). John was hard at work as a farm laborer providing for his family.  1900 ~ is the next census the family was found in and they were still living in White Co., TN. Marion Alice (10) had joined the family by this time and was #6 of 9 children that had been born to John G. and Nancy Frances in those past 20 years. Marion Alice shared life along with siblings  Luther, William, Nancy, Eliza, Jo, Maudy, Charlie and John F. b. May 1900. Sons Luther and William were working on the farm by then. From the census, I learned that John G. was renting and not the owner of the land. I quickly discovered that whatever happiness the family was experiencing was shattered by the death of their mother, Nancy Frances, on the 25 Sept. 1900, White Co. Tenn. This left John G. a widower, 45, with 9 children, infant son John F. was 4 months and the oldest son Luther, 22.

The family made a move sometime before/by  1907 to northeast Texas to the small rural community of Dial, Fannin Co..  I had fun doing a little research on Dial.

You can read about Dial here:

https://www.honeygrovepreservation.org

I was able to find Alice’s sister Maud on the Dial School Class of 1907 ~1908 photo. *Also notice a Zollie Hall attending school as well . This is Alice’s future husband. I was also able to find her brothers Charlie and Frank in following school pictures on the site.

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The web site holds some wonderful old photos of this rural community. I just loved this one from the Honey Grove Preservation page.

Picnic“Several wonderful photographs exist of outings to Beaver Dam, which was apparently a popular picnic spot northwest of Honey Grove on Bois D’Arc creek.  Photos from the Collection of the Estate of John and Thelma Black.”

Another shot of the quilt by Alice Hall ~ can’t you just picture the family picnics that could have been held on her? Possibly at Beaver Dam?

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So by 1910 the family was at home in the community of Dial. John G. was still farming  and the census revealed he was working on his own account although he was renting. Living at home with him was Marion Alice (19) now using simply Alice, daughter Maud (16) son William (27) Charlie (13) and John F. (Frank) (11).

1912 brought another change and that was with the marriage of Alice to Zollie Hall.

On the 17th of March, 1912, Alice M. Charles married Zollie Hall (b. March 1892) in Fannin Co., Texas. Zollie was the son of Mathew Sanders Hall (b. 1842 Dyer, TN) and 2nd wife Henrietta (b. 1854 Hardeman, TN) Raynor/Rainer.

(I must stop and interject that March 17th was my marriage date ~ my husband’s name was Marion Phillip ~ perhaps there was more to my acquiring this quilt than meets the eye ~ if you think in terms like that ~ I do)

Hall Family Photo 

Hall Family - 1905Hall Family Photo from Ancestry from the Hall/Martin Tree 

I love the shy smile on Henriette’s face in this photo.

On Aug 17, 1913, their only child, a girl, Imogene Hall was born to Alice and Zollie Hall. Zollie and Alice lived with baby Imogene on Pean Gaf Rd. in 1920. 1930 brought a change in address and I found then living on Country Line and Church Rd. But by 1930 Alice’s father John G. was living with them. Zollie was still farming and at 73, John was still working as a farm hand.

Corresponding with Charles, Alice’s grandson, I got a small glimpse into the life Alice and her family led. One of the memories Charles shared with me was that his mother Imogene rode her horse to school. She would leave him tied up outside and then at lunchtime go out to feed and exercise him. This memory brings me back to the picture above of the young man on his horse. Could he be on his way to school? It’s easy to let my imagination run a bit wild. Charles also shared:

“Mom was very close to both of her parents and growing up in a religious family provided emotional support.  I went to church often at the small rural church that was built in the country where everyone farmed.”  

Dial Baptist Church

The photo is of the Church building at Pecan Gap

It was torn down, moved and rebuilt at Dial.

DialBaptistChurch

1909

The November meeting showed a report given on progress to obtain a building.  The minutes stated that “a church house at Pecan Gap bought and paid for $120.00.  Place selected to build the church on Brother Lee’s land also shingles bought to cover the house and on the ground.”  Brother J. W. Melton was selected as foreman of tearing down, moving and rebuilding the building.

1910

In March a date was set for the second Sunday in April to dedicate the new building.  A committee composed of W. G. Lee, J. B. Lilley, J. W. Melton, and Will Taylor was selected to purchase an organ for the church.  Other histories recorded that the building would seat 350, and was valued at $3,000.  The dismantled building was hauled from Pecan Gap by wagon to Dial and then rebuilt.

Again on the Honey Grove Preservation page under ‘Churches’ I found Zollie and Alice listed “Copies of associational letters from 1948-1953 are in the book….. Delegates to the Associational meeting were Mr. & Mrs. Rayford Stroud, Mr. & Mrs. Cleve Melton, Mr. & Mrs. Charllile Charles.  Alternate were Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Carter and Mr. & Mrs. Zolie Hall”

Charles went on to share with me “On Sundays, my grandmother (or mother) would have a lunch (which we called dinner) after church.  Usually, there were five of us including my father, W.M. and sometimes the minister and his wife would join us.  Friends of Alice and Zollie might also drop by for visits on Sunday afternoons.

A special time for me was to spend time at grandmother’s house during the summer for up to a week at a time.  Alice was an avid gardener and always had flowers blooming in summer.  I recall Iris’s and Zinnia’s and roses. 

Alice was a petite person and her height was about 5 ft. 2 inches.  She and my mother would cook together and did some quilting as well.  I recall that quilts were the go-to choice for bed covers and in Northeast Texas, the winters get quite cold.  I can recall having up to three quilts when I was staying with them during the winter” 

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It was during this time period that Alice pieced the quilt I now have the honor of caretaking. I learned something else from 14 Points grandson, Alice was quite artistic and not only did she quilt but later on in her life she enjoyed oil painting.

Landscape by Alice Hall

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This painting was graciously shared and permission given by her grandson Charles Merrill, holder of this beautiful landscape by Alice to share with you. I understand she was self-taught.

Searching newpaper.com I came across Zollie Hall mentioned in The Paris News (Paris, Texas) 06, Oct 1942, Tue

Headed ” Some Cotton Picker ” Zollie is quoted talking about the cotton and corn harvests along with the mention he thought he was a real cotton picker picking 500lbs of cotton a day…wow that’s a lot of cotton. Reading the history of Fannin Co. and the communities it held, cotton was one of the major agricultural crops for the area.

Meet Alice and Zollie Hall 

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It has been such an honor to share this quilt and life of quilter/painter Alice M. Hall with you. May her memory be a blessing to all those who knew her and to those of us who have just met her.

Zollie and Alice are laid to rest in the Oakwood Cemetery, Honey Grove, Fannin Co. Tx

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Thank you to Charles Merrill for sharing your amazing gifted and loved grandmother with me.

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