Block printed and roller printed cotton
Jefferson County, Virginia
Gift of Mrs. Algernon Sydney Sullivan
and George Hammond Sullivan, 1932 The block-printed tree-of-life-pattern textile used in the center of this quilt dates from the 1790s. The roller-printed border fabric dates from the 1820s. The use of textiles manufactured over a period of 30 years gives credence to the tradition that the three wives of Captain Thomas Hammond created this quilt. Folklore claims that the Captain's first wife, Mary Lewis Tapscott of Staunton, Virginia, began working on it after they married in 1789. After Mary Lewis' death, the Captain married Mildred Washington, a niece of Betty Washington Lewis, in 1797. Mildred carried on the work until her death in 1804. In 1807 the Captain married Ann Newton Collins of Westmoreland County, and she completed the project sometime before her death in 1835.
The quilt was made by cutting the tree-of-life and bird motifs from a block-printed cotton and then appliquéing them onto the plain background fabric with stitches such as the buttonhole, whip, and bullion stitches. Eighteenth-century gentry women used quilting as a way of socializing. Frances Baylor Hill of King and Queen County described a week in July of 1797 when female relatives and neighbors gathered together "quilt'd a great deal and was very merry."