Tag Archives: Kansas City Star quilts

Civil War Sampler: #11B Sidebar, Kansas City Star

Funny story…a sidebar to my Civil War Sampler series.

So, remember how I said that in the introduction to the Civil War Sampler book, Ms. Brackman stated that most of the patterns actually came from 1930s newspapers and are not necessarily Civil War era patterns? Well, one of the newspapers she mentions is the Kansas City Star. (Doesn’t that just sound like it should be a quilt block pattern in and of itself anyway?)

Being a lifetime resident of the state of Ohio and not even particularly “into” news, I had never heard of the Kansas City Star until sometime after I started working at my current place of employment, the Special Collections and Archives at Wright State University Libraries.

There, we have one of the world’s largest collections of material about the Wright Brothers, who are widely credited with inventing the world’s first practical airplane. In addition to items related to aviation and to Wilbur and Orville, all of which seem to be obvious “givens” in anything called the “Wright Brothers Collection,” there are also many materials pertaining to other members of the Wright family, such as their father Bishop Milton Wright and their younger sister Katharine.

Katharine Wright, the youngest Wright sibling and only girl, spent much of her life unmarried, devoted to her father and brothers (Wilbur and Orville were also unmarried), in many ways filling in for her mother who had died when Katharine was a teenager. (More about Katharine Wright on our blog at work.)

But late in life, she fell in love with her former Oberlin classmate, widower Harry Haskell, and in 1926 at the age of 52, she married him. They were only married a few years before Katharine died in 1929.

What does all this have to do with the entry title or the quilt sampler?

Haskell was the editor of the Kansas City Star from 1928 until his death in 1952 (source). According to the National Quilt Museum, the (apparently famous) Kansas City Star quilt patterns began being published in the newspaper starting in September 1928 and continued until 1961.

This obviously includes the 1930s, which is the publication time period for most of the Kansas City Star patterns that are re-purposed in Brackman’s Civil War sampler book. (To clarify: only a handful of the 50 patterns did come from the Star – most came from elsewhere – but of the 4 or 5 that are  KCS patterns, all appear to be from the 1930s.)

I’m not saying that Harry or Katharine particularly had anything to do with this quilt thing. (It sounds like from the National Quilt Museum’s page about the KCS quilts, that it was mostly Edna Marie Dunn‘s doing?)

I can’t find any evidence in the Bishop Milton Wright diaries that Katharine did any quilting herself – but maybe such a thing was so commonplace as to be barely worth mentioning at that time? Supposedly (ref here and here), there is a quilt made by Katharine’s mother Susan on display at Hawthorn Hill, but I can’t find any pictures of it. Again, probably pretty common activity, right? Milton does mention creating a quilt pattern himself in 1857 (see diary entry: April 23, 1857), which was prior to his 1859 marriage. Interesting.

The Katharine Wright/ Harry Haskell/ Kansas City Star quilt pattern connection is probably just one of those weird little coincidences. It seems there’s no escaping the many and varied interconnections of history. Isn’t it fun?

(Note: The first pattern in the book to come from the Kansas City Star is #11: Blockade, which was published in 1938.)