From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Quilt Barn" in Christian County, KY

Quilts and fabric in Kentucky Mennonite country.




This barn stands along Highway 68/80, east of Hopkinsville, KY. The "quilt block" on its front has been there for several years. It was painted, I believe, by a local economic development agency that had a "quilt barns" grant from the Kentucky Arts Council. The quilt barns are supposed to look folksy, promote tourism, and encourage a better appreciation of our quilting heritage and history.

I could be wrong about how this quilt square came to be. It appeared during the quilt barn explosion. Quilt blocks were painted on a few dozen highly-visible barns in several counties, and then lots of barns suddenly had quilt squares painted on them. Property owners liked the look so much that they started quilt-blocking their barns, at their own expense. The quilt barn idea "went viral", as they say on the internet.

I'm don't know who owns this barn, but I do know who owns the sign on its side wall. Mrs. Amman Snyder, a Mennonite lady, had her "Quilts" sign on the barn even before the quilt block was painted on it. She has a quilt shop at her home, about a mile down Highway 1027. When I worked in classified ads at our local newspaper, I helped her with her occasional quilt sale advertisements.

Mrs. Snyder has recently added fabric to her shop. She is responding to published reports that WalMart will soon be eliminating its fabric departments. The Mennonite ladies of Christian County have been regular fabric customers in Hopkinsville's Walmart. They'll need another fabric source if they can't buy it at WalMart any more.

Last year, my Mennonite neighbor Elsie told me that I should open a little neighborhood fabric store. She thought I could put it in the upstairs room of our shed. I entertained the idea for about 10 seconds, and during that short time, I had vivid imaginations of owning dozens of bolts of cloth that no one wanted to buy.

Mrs. Snyder will be a much better cloth merchant than I would be. She knows from personal experience what sorts of fabric and sewing notions the Mennonite ladies want and need. She's open for business to the "English" as well -- her signs on the highway proclaim it.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.