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A heritage of needlework

  • LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Mary Taschler, a member of the Palmerton Area Historical Society, points out the beauty of several antique quilts and coverlets now featured at the Palmerton Heritage Center.
    LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Mary Taschler, a member of the Palmerton Area Historical Society, points out the beauty of several antique quilts and coverlets now featured at the Palmerton Heritage Center.
Published February 04. 2011 05:00PM

The Palmerton Area Heritage Center is all wrapped up in warm and cozy quilts.

That's because there are 26 antique quilts and wallhangings now on display for the public to come in and view some amazingly beautiful samples of needlework.

Visitors can see a patchwork quilt on loan by Debbie Lutz that has been passed down through five generations. It was made by her great-great-grandmother Eckhart. It is over 100 years old. It was given to Debbie by her grandmother, Ellen Cope and her great-grandmother, Mary Ann Redline, gave it to Ellen.

On loan from Shirley Blynn is a lovely crazy quilt made by Eliza Keeler Moser in the 1800s. It has also been handed down through the generations of a family. It was given to Florence Peters, Eliza's granddaughter, and Florence gave it to her grandson and his wife, Peter and Shirley Blynn. Eliza's initials are embroidered in the quilt and the quilt displays many different embroidery and handstitching samples that showcases her talents.

Blynn brought in several other quilts she has acquired over the years for the display. One is a crazy quilt made by Stiles Brotzman's grandmother sometime in the 1800s. She bought the quilt at a church Christmas bazaar about eight years ago. She was told the top was made by Stile's grandmother and the back and edging was added by church quilters.

Another crazy quilt, on loan by Mary Ann Shafer, was made by Clara Geisel in the 1930s. It is made of all different colors and fabrics from her children's and husband's clothes, so as not to waste anything during lean times. Her husband was the town's blacksmith.

Alanna Tracy's crazy quilt was made in the late 1800s for Amandas J. Smith, born in 1859. The quilt was given to him by a female friend on Feb. 20, 1899. He handed it down to his daughter, Ida Kleintop (married to David), born in 1889. She handed it down to her daughter, Debute Tracy, born 1932, who married Bernard. She handed it down to her son, Terry Tracy, born 1953.

Kathy Long's crazy quilt was made by her grandmother, Carrie (Sheaffer) Heiland-Boch, in the late 1890s. Carrie was a seamstress at Cohen's Department Store in Lehighton. She had grown up around women who always sewed. They made quilts for their hope chests and to be used in their homes. The quilt on display was made from worn out clothes. It is a beautiful example of a variety of stitching by a talented seamstress.

A stunning off-white crocheted coverlet of a popcorn stitch pinwheel design was made by Louise Everitt Brunson in 1939, on loan from her daughter, Vinita Horinko. Louise made it while pregnant to keep her occupied while waiting for the birth of Vinita.

A lovely pink patchwork quilt was made by Mary Anthony in the 1950s. She made it for Susan Steigerwalt, who submitted it for display. It was a baby gift to Susan when she was born 59 years ago. This handmade quilt is a lovely memento of Susan's Aunt Mary and is used as the headboard of her bed and a constant reminder of a special gift made with love.

Barbara Howell has loaned her grandmother's crazy quilt for the display. It was made by her grandmother, Catherine Kreimoyer Andrews in 1917. Born and raised in Kresgeville, Catherine made the quilt for her daughter, Mary Ellen Andrews Serfass of Slatington. Mary Ellen gave it to her daughter, Barbara, in 1980. The quilt was made from clothing from many members of the family. She embroidered the initials of parents, grandparents, children, aunts and uncles throughout the quilt. "This quilt is very special to me and is one of my prized possessions," says Barbara.

A patriotic red, white and blue designed quilt belongs to Donna Mackes. It was made by Eva Bollinger Keller during the years of 1941-45. She made it for her son, LeRoy Keller, who was in the service during World War II.

Jane Borbe has loaned several quilts from her collection for the display, ranging from patchwork, appliqué to redwork and Barb Fisher also has a few of hers in the display.

The idea to feature antique quilts and coverlets came about one day when Vinita Horinko recalled that an antique quilt had been donated to Palmerton Historical Society in 2006 by Mildred and Harry Klotz of Lake Harmony.

"It has became the cornerstone for the quilt display," says Betsy Burnhauser, PHS member.

It is known as the Trachsville Quilt.

The quilt is very old, dating back to 1868. It is 80" by 89". There are thirty 11" by 11" blocks of pink and clay-patterned triangles and rectangles with a green border. In the center of each block is a 4" by 4" square of off-white muslin. Each one of those squares has hand cross-stitched names, like "P. Keller and L. Keller" and "E.D. Hawk and E.E. Christman." The one that gives a clue to its origin is the square that is stitched "Miss E.E. Behler June 1 A.D. 1868 Trachsville Carbon County Pa", perhaps the seamstress who made it.

Burnhauser added a little whimsy to the display with her baby doll carriage from her own childhood, dating back to 1923. Tucked around one of her dolls is a quilt made by her grandmother, Emma Jane Bollinger. Her grandmother made the quilt originally for herself. When her own children were born, they slept in a cradle next to her and the quilt was used to cover them both.

In another corner of the display is Burnhauser's childhood doll bed with a dolly. A small doll-size patchwork quilt is folded around her. It was made by Burnhauser's other grandmother, Lilly Zellner specifically for her granddaughter's dolly. It was made sometime around 1923. All are precious mementos to Burnhauser.

The quilts can be seen until the fall during the Heritage Center's normal hours which are: Wednesdays, 1-4:30 p.m.; Thursdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Fridays, 12-6 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. or by appointment. The Center is located at 410 Delaware Ave.

"You have got to see them in person to appreciate the workmanship and the variety," advises Burnhauser.

For more information, call (610) 824-6954.

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