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There’s a Big Story behind these little squares…

While the men fought, the women remained on the home front, charged with keeping the home and family together. The women also did what they could to aid the soldiers stationed on the front lines. Sicchio says life in the military was very different in those days, and resources were scarce, so soldiers left home carrying many of their own basic necessities such as blankets, linens, clothes, and bandages.

Several Cape Cod organizations shipped necessities to local soldiers, Sicchio says, and the quilt squares could very well have been among these items. If in fact the pieces were sent to a soldier or soldiers serving far afield, that could explain why the squares resurfaced, more than a century later, in the South.


Photo by: Josh Shortsleeve

According to Sicchio, the United States Sanitary Commission—a civilian organization established in 1861—collected donations for Union soldiers including clothing, food, and other items. Churches and Ladies Aid Societies, including one based out of the Bourne Methodist Episcopal Church (now the Bourne United Methodist Church) on Sandwich Road, also helped with the effort. Sicchio says an advertisement published in The Barnstable Patriot at that time requested donations and contributions on behalf of the troops. “Most of the Cape towns were very active [in war efforts],” Sicchio says.

Other theories exist about the quilt squares, which were never sewn together, though it appears they were at one time intended to be joined to make a single, large quilt. Sicchio says the squares could have been made to be part of a friendship quilt, which was common during that era.

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