February 20, 2020

Pinwheel Quilt - The Family Story and Photos

I did a major restoration job on this heirloom quilt.  For before and after photos, close-ups of the fabrics I used, etc. read, Pinwheel Quilt - The Fabrics and The Repair.

The quilt owner supplied the history and this great family photo.

Here's the who's who:
"The old couple on the left are my great grandparents Col. Mark and his wife Nancy Wayne Mark. Several of their children are in the photo. My grandmother, Millie Mark Fitzgerald is standing directly to the right of two of her brothers. My mother is the little girl on her brother’s shoulders. They had moved to a farm near Portland from Jamestown, North Dakota after my grandparents separated. I think the photo must have been taken over 100 years ago.  These three women each had a hand in the quilt. "

Read on!  The family zig-zagged across this country.  It's quite a tale.

Nancy Ann Wayne was born on July 2, 1853 in Marietta, Wisconsin, one of 10 children of Lewis and Nancy Redmond Wayne. W.H. Marks and Nancy Wayne were married in Crawford County, Wisconsin on July 2, 1871 by Justice of the Peace Blakeslee.  The only witnesses were Mrs. Blakeslee and Charles Colby. They resided in Marietta Township, Crawford County, Wisconsin until the fall of 1873, when Mr. and Mrs. Marks, their little daughter, Nancy Nora, four months old, and Mr. Marks’ brother and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Marks, started west, this trip being the first of numerous ones that they took during their long married life. Leaving Marietta with two yoke of oxen, a covered wagon and two cows, they ferried across the Mississippi from Potosi, Wisconsin to Eagle Point, Iowa.

In relating the joys and sorrows of the trip, Mr. Marks recalled that the cows, which followed behind the wagon, pulled at the ropes around their horns until deep cuts were worn in their hides. He then yoked them, something not done in those days, and placed them between the two oxen, with the result that he was able to prove to his skeptical brother that the cows could be broken to the harness. In a few hours Mr. Marks found they pulled along as well as the oxen. Another little yarn was that after the cows were milked there was little work to the butter-making. The cream was placed in the churn in the wagon and the shaking of the vehicle during the day churned the cream into butter the size of hazel nuts, relieving the women of the butter-making task.

On arriving at LeMars, the two Mrs. Marks became so ill with homesickness that the men left them there.  Always being a good trader, Mr. Marks traded the cattle for a pair of mules, harness, and whiffletrees and started out for Blue Earth, Nebraska, which was then considered “way out west.”  He says they traveled for miles without seeing a house.  Crossing the Mississippi they stopped at Plattsmouth, south of Omaha.  On returning to LeMars for their families, Mr. Marks found his wife still ill, so the mules and equipment were sold, and they returned to their Wisconsin home having been absent from July to November.

In the spring of 1874, they went to Fremont, Wisconsin where Mr. Marks rafted on the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers for three years. To “go West” being their aim, Mr. and Mrs. Marks started again three years later in a covered wagon and spent three years in Iowa, then moving on to Rapaho, Nebraska, where they homesteaded. After three years of dry weather and no crops, they went back to Wisconsin, even though they knew their friends would say, “I told you so.” But sturdy pioneers didn’t let things like dry weather or roads, stop them so the Marks family again “picked up” and went to the vicinity of Hill City, Graham County, Kansas, where Mr. Marks says they lived over millions of dollars, but didn’t know it at that time. This section now, he says, has big oil fields. But in the early ’eighties it was a case of getting starved out so again they returned to their home state, having traded the Kansas land for 80 acres in Richland County, where Mr. Marks got work cutting hoop poles for flour barrels.   Later the family lived in Crawford County, Wisconsin, and from there moved to Iona, Iowa, then residing three years each in Mitchell County and Buffalo Center, Iowa.

In 1900 they decided to “go West” again and came to Wimbledon in 1900, where they lived until 1906 when they moved to Mountain Home, Idaho, residing there for a year before coming to Jamestown in the fall of 1907. Due to the illness of their son Bert Marks, who was gassed during World War I, Mr. and Mrs. Marks went with him to Sacramento, California in 1918, where his death occurred in 1928. They lived for a time at Sherwood, Oregon, before returning to Jamestown in the fall of 1928, and since then they have spent their time between this city and the coast. According to 1910 Census data, Colonel Mark was living in Jamestown, North Dakota with his wife Nancy Anne Wayne Mark and daughter Mildred (Mildred Fitzgerald, my grandmother) and his profession is listed as auctioneer. Business directories from Jamestown also list him as an auctioneer.

I’m unsure how Mom eventually came to have the quilt pieces she inherited from her grandmother Nancy Ann Wayne she used to create the finished piece I now have. I remember her telling me that some of the materials were just pieces of old shirts and ties that had been discarded. Clearly these were the ones that began to show the most wear and tear and required attention.  Mom added some material she felt complemented the overall look. The finished quilt is enormous and would easily fit a king-sized bed. 

Here are photos of the four generations of women who had a hand in the making and preserving of this quilt.  What a treasure!

great-grandmother, Nancy Wayne Marks

Col. W.H. Marks and Nancy Wayne Marks

grandmother, Mildred Marks Fitzgerald

 grandmother Mildred Marks Fitzgerald and the owner's mother

the owner's mother

the owner's mother and the owner

I find myself especially enchanted by these photos.  They each so clearly show the fashions of their eras, and I love that they so clearly express how the moods changed from formal to less posed photos. 

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