There’s a Big Story behind these little squares…
Bourne exhibit to showcase historic town quilts
Jane MacDonald was perusing one final booth at a flea market in Charlotte, North Carolina in the year 2000 when she spotted them—a pile of about 30 multi-colored quilt squares, faded with age. A resident of Lake Wylie, South Carolina, MacDonald inspected the squares and noticed an interesting detail. About half of the nine-by nine-inch pieces had signatures on them, written in ink in the center. In addition, written beneath the signatures in careful script were the words “Monument, Mass.”
An avid quilter, MacDonald knew these old bits of fabric were special, but she wasn’t quite sure what she would do with them. “I recognized the history involved,” she recalls, adding that she paid $150 for the lot. MacDonald turned to the Internet, as well as genealogists and historians she would come across in the next few years, in an attempt to learn the history behind the squares. She was advised to contact the Bourne Historical Society, and in 2003 she sent the organization a letter. By a stroke of monumental luck, Thelma Loring, a historical society volunteer, was on the receiving end.
Loring, you see, is the great granddaughter of Mary C. Wing (1825-1906), a local woman who was widowed at the age of 38, who lived at the corner of Keene Street and Sandwich Road, and whose name was signed on one of the quilt squares. “It was a stroke of luck through the Internet that brought me to Thelma,” MacDonald says. “I could not believe it,” added Loring, “when Jane told me [my great-grandmother’s] name was on the quilt.”
In September of 2014, MacDonald donated—or “returned,” one might say—all 30 of the quilt squares to the town of Bourne, and the pieces are now in the historical society’s care. This summer, the society will exhibit the squares alongside two other local quilts that also date to the 19th century. Organizers hope additional historical connections will continue to unfold as more and more visitors have the chance to see the squares. “These quilts are a great little piece of history,” says Mary Sicchio, the society’s collections manager. “It tells us who was living here, how they kept busy and entertained, and that they all knew each other.”