Needlework, Finishing, Designing, Quilting, Some Discoveries and Adventures in Stitching from Windy Ridge Designs

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Junes AotH

I've now reached the halfway point of the Anniversaries of the Heart series.  Here's Junes segment -

Ann is my oldest friend; I've known her since we met in 7th grade at Luther Jackson.  Her birthday is in June (I have to remember to call her and give birthday salutations!).  Her initials - A - C - B - W - are up on the top left and right.  You may have to go to the bigger version of the picture; they're stitched in a very light portion of Sweet Petunia.  My ancestor for this month is Rebekah Alspach Kershner.  She was a craftswoman a lot like me - not a good looker, but well accomplished.  
She made a coverlet that came down through my mother's side of the family that although it was not very well cared for, by the time I got it, it was still in excellent shape.  It is now in the hands of the Winterthur Museum.  

Rebekah Alspach Kershner about 1865
This will sound awful, but over the last 40 or so years, whenever I have looked at this photo, I have been reminded of the Ruth Buzzi character Gladys Ormphby on Laugh-In; the old woman on the bench that beat the old man with her purse.  

Rebekah was born in Berks (now Schuylkill) County in Pennsylvania on June 3rd, 1802 to 27 year old George and Anna Rosina.  She was three  when her grandfather, Jacob (a veteran of the Revolution), and his brother, Michael,  picked up their families and migrated out to Ohio.  Rebekah's father, George, was 27 when they migrated.  They are among the first pioneers of Fairfield County.  Jacob and Michael purchased a sawmill on the Hocking River called Rock Mill.  Turns out now that it is the oldest in the state.  The one standing now is not the original one that Jacob and Michael owned and operated.  Rebekah's father and uncles, as well as probably working in the mill from time to time, were also farmers.  The family were probably financially comfortable.

When Rebekah was about 13 years old, she made a coverlet - beautiful in red, white and blue, on an 8-shaft loom.  And she was able to afford commercially made wool; probably imported.  The coverlet shows that the blue came from two different dye lots that were not used to make part of the pattern - a dead giveaway to commercial wool.  Rebekah probably made the coverlet to place in her dower chest, a Pennsylvania-German tradition.  After my mother's death in 1996, I took this coverlet up to Winterthur and met with Linda Eaton the Director, of Museum Collections and Senior Textiles Curator.  It was Linda who told me about how old the coverlet was and how it was probably made.  Why Winterthur in Delaware when Rebekah was essentially from Ohio?  Well, my father was from Delaware so I have connection that way.  And Rebekah's husband has a connection to the museum itself.

Daniel Kershner (also spelled Kerschner) was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1802.  It's hard to tell if he or his father, Jeremias, went to Ohio first; Jeremias migrated in 1822 and died in Fairfield County in 1826.  Jeremias was brother of Conrad Kershner whose farmhouse rooms are part of the Winterthur Museum.  Daniel was 24 years old when his father died and that was the same  year her married Rebekah.  He could have come to settle his father's estate in Ohio and met Rebekah, or the family could have come enmasse in 1822.  At any rate, Daniel was a very successful farmer.  in 1860 his personal wealth was valued at about 50 million dollars in today's money!  Don't get excited, none of that made it's way down to me.

Here is a photo of the coverlet at the foot of a bed that is on display in the Kershner Parlor at Winterthur.  Isn't it awesome?!  I am just tickled pink that it is somewhere that it is well taken care of (i.e., NOT stored in a plastic dry cleaner bag - ahem!) and that it is appreciated.  Currently Winterthur has a special tour - Distinctive Collections of Southeastern Pennsylvania - where you can see the Kershner rooms and the coverlet.  I'm going to ask my husband if we can go up one of these weekends before the tour ends on June 30.  The loom in the picture may have been the type Rebekah would have used to create the coverlet - I'll have to check on that.  Photo by Linda Eaton, 2011.

Back to Rebekah - family tradition has her as a herbal healer, medicine woman.  She may have even been a mid-wife.  Looks the capable sort, doesn't she?  They would have been married in Pennsylvania-German (Deutsch) tradition, in the Lutheran church.  Their marriage occurred in October of 1826 - Jerimias had passed away the previous January.  Perhaps the wedding took place in October after the harvest was in.  They made their home, after Rebekah and Daniel (my great, great, great grandparents) had eight children.  Between 1830 and 1850 they moved to Circleville in Pickaway County.  The name was spelled Kershner/Kerschner, but it was pronounced CASH-ner.  It was written phonetically in the 1850 census and I haven't found them yet in 1840. Rebekah died in 1871 and Daniel nine years later.

Oops!  Forgot to mention that I made a few color changes on this one!  Let's see - for Crescent Cinnamon Toast, I had substituted Weeks Hibiscus.  When I ran out of that I used Gentle Art Sweet Petunia which matches the lighter shades on Hibiscus.  And, for Crescent Jakey Brown, I used Weeks Cinnabar.   Hope you enjoyed!


  1. Nice finish on your June block! Loved learning about your are right, there is a resemblance to that Ruth Buzzy character :)! That is a lovely coverlet she made, so glad it is displayed for so many to enjoy!

  2. I have really enjoyed your posts on your personalization of this series. I may have to pop over to Winterthur one of these days for that tour!

  3. Great finish on your block. Doesn't it feel good to be half way finished. And I loved the story about Rebekah. It's so good that the coverlet survived and that you know so much about her story. Not a lot of us have such great stories and memories.

  4. Great finish. Loved to read about your ancestor. It's wonderful to know so much about them.

  5. Well, beauty is as beauty does, and look at the beautiful thing she made. No one hangs onto their looks forever, but Lord, those of us who have the touch with the needle or half a brain in our heads are probably better off anyway.

  6. Another beautiful block, and I loved reading the family history. That blanket is amazing

  7. A very nice finish! I love to read all about the history of your family and the background to each piece.

  8. Wow!! I am always so impressed and envious that you know so much of your family history. How COOL that you have that connection to Winterthur, too! Your block looks fantastic.

  9. My name is Philip Karshner and my Great, Great Grandfather was Jacob Karshner and he grew up in the Kershner House that is now partially at the Winterthur. Last year, 2011, my wife and I visited the Winterthur and saw your coverlet. We were there to give Jacob Karshner's original Kentucky long rifle to the museum. It is now hanging on the mantle in the kitchen. You can e-mail me at for more information.


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