Generations of Quilts

February 27th, 2017

I’m still sorting and shuffling things. Recently I discovered a file from September 1996. Another woman and I were invited to display our quilts at the Art Chalet in Butte in the fall of 1996. We had been invited because we owned many generations of quilts from our families. It was an honor. I hadn’t realized how fortunate I was to have such a quilt family lineage. I was asked to talk about the quilts and teach. When I was asked I remember thinking that wouldn’t be any trouble. It hadn’t occurred to me that they would want to include quilts from me. That was a bit of a shock!
Until I found the files that were included with the display in Butte, I hadn’t given any thought to the quilts and the importance of them. I decided to gather and photograph the quilts in order to show them to you. I hope that this online showing may encourage you to gather your family heirlooms if you have some treasures. Here is what I wrote in 1996:


Quilts have always been a part of my life. Since my earliest recollections as a child, quilts were everywhere! Most of these were utility quilts made out of wool and corduroy—“keep warm quilts” we called them. Many of these quilts had been made by my Aunt Florence. She was my mother’s sister, and the seamstress in the family. She lived in an old Four Square farm house in Iowa. Upstairs she had a huge closet that was full of fabric, lots of it was the utility fabric from World War II. The fabric was piled from the floor to the ceiling! I can still remember it! I was around Aunt Florence all the time and she taught me to sew. She was very particular. I had to take out many stitches at her urging, which I was naturally not fond of doing!


Wool Utility Quilt. Tied. Grandmother Bertha Covault Adair. 1940’s.

When I returned home for the summer after my freshman year in college, Florence asked me what I planned to do during the break. I replied that I had a job…………But she announced that we better make a quilt! So we took the scraps left from skirts and blouses that I had sewn and I made my first quilt! It was a 4-patch.

I have discovered that I come from a long line of quilters. My family quilting threads connect all the way back to my great-great grandmother, Elizabeth “Betsy” Linton Covault who was born in 1830. Her applique tulip quilt is on display in this show. She was the mother of 11 children. Her first born, William Hamilton Covault, married Harriet Jane Ralston Covault, also a quilter, whom I was named after.

Old Maid’s Puzzle by Great Grandmother Eliza Baker Adair.  Cadet Blue fabric shared by two great grandmothers. Ordered from Sears Roebuck catalog in the early 1900’s.

Harriet Jane’s quilt is here as well (the blue/white friendship album), along with the companion blue/white Old Maid’s Puzzle, made by my other great-grandmother, Eliza Baker Adair. Harriet Jane and Eliza were neighbors and traded fabric even before they were “related!”  If you look at the two quilts, you’ll see they each include many of the same fabrics!

Great Grandmother’s signature.

After Eliza’s death my great-grandfather married again. His second wife, Nancy Adair, was also a quilter, and her Depression-era quilt is also part of my collection on display.


Quilt Pattern Unknown by Step Great Grandmother. Nancy Adair.   Depression Era Quilt. Given to me several weeks before my mother died. She cherished it so much I had never seen it. It was carefully stored away.

Scrap Quilt by my mother. Maxine Adair Bauer. 1930’s. Her only quilt, because she HAD to! Tied by Aunt Florence.


My grandmother, Bertha Covault Adair, also made quilts and hers is the wool utility quilt. She had two daughters, my Aunt Florence and my mother, Maxine. As I mentioned, Florence was the seamstress in the family. She made all the clothes for me and my cousin. Many of them were made from feed sacks. My mother, on the other hand, did all the cooking and canning, but she DID NOT like to sew! I didn’t think she ever made a quilt, but one day, as we were going through things at the house, she asked me if I wanted a certain scrap quilt. “I made this one, she said.” I was shocked! “I didn’t know you ever made a quilt, Mom!” I said. “Girls had to, you know. Florence finished it.” Her one and only quilt is here on display too.



My dad’s mother, Emma Hammond Bauer, also was a quilter. Hers is the pink applique tulip quilt, circa 1950’s.

And that takes you to my quilts—the “Stained Glass” made in the mid-1980’s and my birthday quilt with friendship blocks from students and quilted by friends at an old-fashioned quilting bee on my 50th birthday.


My Stained Glass reverse applique and stenciling. 1980’s. Hung in the AQS Show in Paducah, KY.

My favorite block. Sunflower Sue with arthritis and silver thread among the gold hair.

My 50th Birthday Quilt. Styled in the historic way of commemoration of death, birth, etc. Block lettering in center. Friendship blocks made by students and friends. Quilted at my birthday party/quilting bee.


I hope that you have enjoyed my family quilt show. I enjoyed taking the photos and thought I would show you a bit of my home. The 2nd grade kids at Monforton school whom I've been working with liked the quilts. They wanted to build forts using them. I told them some of the quilts were very old and fragile. They did the math on the GR-GR Grandmother quilt made in 1860!