GRANDMA’S HANDMADE QUILT
There’s a lot of history behind this ole handmade quilt. A history that would have easily faded had we not paused to record its unique origin. It’s one of many made by my great-grandmother, Carah Belle Poovey Pelton (1877-1967). ‘Carry’ was born in a log cabin near Raney and Yeager Road. Her mother, Mary Ann Newman, was the daughter of Harmon Newman, one of the first pioneer settlers at what would later become known as Pleasant Valley. Her father, Augusta (Gus) Frazier Poovey, rode horseback from his parents home near Henderson, Texas to Pleasant Valley to visit a cousin. He hired on to work for Harmon Newman and ended up marring the farmer’s daughter.
Carry married Phillip Harry ‘Pard” Pelton in 1895. They raised their seven children on a farm northeast of Rowlett in the Liberty Grove area. Carry would saddle up her horse and ride side saddle to all the Eastern Star meetings which were held on the second floor over the Pleasant Valley store and post office. Pard and Carry would take their children to the little Baptist church at Elm Grove (near Elm Grove amd Vinson Rd.) on Sunday morning and then off to the Pleasant Valley Methodist Church on Sunday evening.
Their daughter, Nora Pelton Sperling, once told me about how their family would travel to church. “Me and Beatrice would always get in the rear of the wagon so we could let our feet hang over the back and that’s the way we went to church every Sunday morning and Sunday evening until about 1916 when we got a touring car with carbide lights. Chester would drive that ole car and it was a whole lot quicker than hitching up a team, but the horses could see at night and we didn’t need lights for the wagon” Nora explained.
Pard died in 1938 at 63 years of age. Carry had a stroke a few years later, but continued to piece quilt tops on her treadle operated Singer Sewing Machine. Not sure why I remember this but while visiting my grandparents sometime around 1949 I rode with my grandmother and great-grandmother up to Wylie to visit Miley Hatley Nelson. Miley was native of Charleston, Arkansas. She had married George W. Nelson, the son of James Alexander and Evaline Forster Nelson. Miley had saved her scraps from several dresses that she made and that bright yellow material seemed to catch my eye as she filled a brown paper sack all the way to the top with the various colors and patterns of fabric remnants.
I watched the next day as my great-grandmother, Carry Pelton, took a pair of chrome plated scissors and cut out a kite shaped pattern which had appeared as part of a featured quilting article in one of the old farmer’s magazines. She then took an empty saltine cracker box that came from her daughter’s grocery store in the Dal Rock community between Rowlett and Rockwall. She traced several of those patterns onto the back side of the cardboard and used that as her pattern to cut out many of the various colors and pattern designs. She then cut out the solid squares until there was a small stack of green and yellow squares on the kitchen table.
The most fascinating part of all was watching her feet move back and forth on the treadle of that ole sewing machine as she began to sew the various pattern designs together. Of course I wanted to operate the machine. She gave me a square (2 green and 2 yellow sections sewed together with pattern design) and I took it with me. We lived in the next house down the road. This was back in 1949 or 1950. The two room school at Liberty Grove had been closed and we were attending the Rowlett School where I was in the first grade. For some reason I remember being so fascinated with those bright colors on that square that I had put it in my pocket and showed it to some of the other kids while were out near the cotton patch that bordered the school playground.
After several days of sewing the quilt top was finished and went into an old cedar chest near the foot of her bed. Over the years she went on to sew many more. After her death in 1967 a total of 23 different quilt tops remained in that cedar chest. Some had previously been made into quilts. I remember a large quilting frame hanging from the ceiling one winter as several women from the surrounding area got together for a quilting party. There was one or two on each side of the quilting frame. Each with a large needle and thread. Seemed like it took a long time, but eventually they had a new quilt and all seemed to be smiling.
As the years passed, I had almost forgotten about that quilt until one Christmas when I opened a gift from my mother and grandmother and there it was. The top had never been”quilted” and they had worked together for several days so that I could have a quilt that would be cherished for many years to come and then see that it was passed down for future generations to treasure.