There’s a Big Story behind these little squares…
Additional unanswered questions about the squares remain. It is unknown, for example, why the pieces were never sewn together. As individual pieces, they would do little to help warm a solider at night. However, to preserve the integrity of the fabric and its historic significance, Sicchio says the squares will never be sewn together. MacDonald, who owned the pieces for more than a decade, abided by this philosophy even before she knew of the quilt squares’ history. “I knew it had to remain as it was [in individual pieces],” MacDonald says. “Doing anything to the squares would ruin the legitimacy of it.”
Little is known about the individuals whose names are signed on the squares, however, many of the same surnames appear on an 1857 map of Monument, which was then a village of Sandwich. Census data from the period provides some basic details; for example, in the 1860 census, Henry W. Weeks is listed as a 23-year-old laborer married to Susan H. (Wing) Weeks, the daughter of Mary Wing, Thelma Loring’s ancestor.
While some of these questions may never be answered, the historical society is doing what it can to ensure the quilts are preserved. After receiving the quilt squares from MacDonald last year, the society showed them to a conservationist, who rated the pieces in “fair to poor” condition. For Sicchio, that only heightened the need for their preservation, and in recent months, she secured a $750 grant from the Massachusetts Arts Council to have the fabric properly preserved. The squares are now stored on thick, acid-free mats with Mylar windows to protect them from any degradation.
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