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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

AotH Bonus Block - Part One

I've completed the final bonus block of the Anniversaries of the Heart series.  But, of course, as usual, I have to complicate things a bit.  First of all, I have two stories to tell about this final block.  Then, I have to stitch a border piece to go around the perimeter of the whole thing because I messed up when I was starting out and didn't allow for the extra linen we need on the sides for framing.  Too focused on getting started!

I have chosen another neutral linen and juiced it up with fray preventer and am just about to start stitching that border - I've even decided on the pattern I'm going to use.  But, right now I'm focused on stitching on the birth sampler and won't move to work on the border until I've reached a certain point on that.

Doesn't mean I can't show you a bit of the final block and tell you about Miss Willie Fairfax.  Don't you just love that name?  Miss Willie was my Godmother.  I have no idea how my parents knew her; whether she attended church with us in Alexandria, or she worked with my mother, or what.  But, we saw her a lot when I was little.  I can remember back to when I was three.  I have many vivid memories of that year and I know it was when I was three because we moved to Oakton, Virginia when I turned 4.

I remember riding the bus with Miss Willie down in Del Ray.  We went to Mr. Pasquallie's.  He was the shoemaker.  Really.  He actually made the shoes.  Of course, he repaired them as well.  Remember those times, when we wore shoes forever, having them repaired so that we could keep wearing them?  Now they're made to fall apart in six month - forget about repairing them.  I can still smell the air of Mr. Pasquallie's - all leather and shoe polish.  I also remember visiting Miss Willie at her house.  It was a craftsman-style bungalo and she had a veranda that was shady and wide and went around at least two sides of the house.  We sat there and sipped lemonade in the summer.

Miss Willie was a diminutive, blue haired, lady who smelled like lavendar.  I've done a little research on her.  I gather she was born about 1898; which would have made her in her 60's when I knew her.  The census information I can find on her is intriguing and I think that she and her sisters may have shared a family tragedy that changed their lives forever.  First of all, in researching, I was only able to find Miss Willie in the Census records three times; once in 1910, then 1920, then 1930.  Oddly, In 1910, she is with her sisters, Nannie L., Huldah V. and Fannie R., living with Nannie Sar??? and (perhaps) her husband Upton Sar??? with Emily ???? their grandmother.  Now, whether she is the grandmother of Nannie who is married to Upton or the girls, that is unclear.  In 1920 and 1930 the girls are living with their Aunt, Nannie Davis.  At all times, they are living in Alexandria, Virginia.  Then, I found a transcription of a Manassas Journal dated April 5, 1907.  It's one of those little society entries that says Misses Nannie and Huldah Fairfax, of Alexandria, were visiting Miss Lillian Hixson of Manassas for Easter that year.  So, I looked up Lillian Hixson and sure enough, she lived with her family in Manassas.  Then I found only two birth records for Fairfaxes, but both of them were at Wolf Run Shoals, Fairfax, Virginia.

Well, I grew up in Fairfax and never hear of Wolf Run Shoals.  Where was that?  Googled it and found that it was, interestingly enough, on the Occoquan River at the boundary between Prince William and Fairfax Counties.  Huh.  Did some more checking and found a blog about Civil War (River) Fords.  The guy was talking about Wolf Run Shoals, even had a picture of a Civil War era map on his blog.  When I blew up the map, it was noted with the names of property owners - namely DAVISes.  Well, that was just a little too co-inky-dinky if ya know what I mean.

Then I found someone's research on Rootsweb where the Fairfaxes and Davises of Fairfax/Prince William Counties are linked (one of those family alliances so to speak).  And I found a fella named George Caleb Fairfax who was married to Emma J. Fairfax in Washington, D.C. on October 15, 1891.  I actually found that marriage record.

And it got more interesting.  George had some sisters named Fannie, Huldah, Winnifred and Anna.  "Nannie" is a nickname for the names Nancy and Anna.  The researcher had written down that George had five children.  Didn't even put in his wife's name.  But, Emma was his 1st cousin,  daughter of his father's brother.  Maybe that's why they were married in Washington.

But wait, it gets worse.  There was a notation about him committing suicide while in jail, but that was it, no further explanation.  I was able to find lots of queries on Google about him shooting some guy, but again, no details.  So I dug deeper.  And then I found it.

George Caleb Fairfax was a mail carrier; delivered mail from Fairfax Courthouse (now Fairfax City) to the post office in Farr, Virginia (near Clifton).  According to newspaper accounts, George was insane.  He'd already attempted suicide by hanging himself.  His wife had discovered him and cut him down.  Well, this particular day, June 5, 1907, he went into the Woodyard Store in Farr, Virginia and, it is reported,  had a disagreement with Isaac F. Woodyard who worked in the store.  The disagreement was over where the Democratic primary polling place should be.  Even the papers remarked on the triviality of the disagreement.  Incensed, Fairfax went home, got his gun and went back to the store where he shot Woodyard at point blank range with a double barreled shotgun.  Woodyard died instantly.  Witnesses were in the store, one of them was Fairfax's own brother in law who attempted to stop him, but George Fairfax shot at him too.  Missed.  Then he ran off into the woods.

Pursued by witnesses and the sheriff, George Fairfax was found and taken to the jail in Fairfax City to be detained and await a preliminary hearing.  On the 7th of June the jailer discovered him collapsed on the floor where he confessed later to the doctors who were summoned to tend to him, he had taken strychnine tablets.  George Caleb Fairfax died when he was 38 years old.

I found George and Emma in the Census records only in 1900.  They were married with two children - Clarence and Maggie.  I don't think it's a stretch to say that Maggie could actually be Nannie.  I don't know.  But, that's my guess.  I also am not so sure that George killed Woodyard over a polling place dispute.  The reason I say that is because in the 1920 Census records, I found Emma (a widow) living with her son, Walter E. who was born in 1908.  So maybe there was more to the dispute between George and Woodyard?

I really think I'm onto something.  I think that the family were devastated by the press - this story ran in all the D.C. and Virginia papers - even down in southern Virginia.  I think that the girls ended up with an aunt - whose relationship I haven't been able to work out yet - and that their mother may have been cast out on her own.  If my guesses are right, they had a hard, sad life.  It would not have been easy at that time to overcome a scandal of that sort.  Clearly further research will have to commence.

Miss Willie made me a quilt, probably when I was a baby.  I remember always having it.  It was an Irish Chain quilt made with little squares of white and mint green and a 1930's fabric with white and mint and little tiny red tulips.  My brother was always sneaking off with my quilt.  Often he was allowed to do this because he was the spoiled brat, baby, only boy, of the family.  One day too many I caught him with my quilt - I guess I was about ten or so - and I grabbed it away from him and he grabbed it back.  There commenced a tug of war and the quilt split in the middle.  Typical of my mother (for she often punished me to punish him) she took the quilt away from me (as my brother had lost interest as soon as it was torn) and threw it away.  I have missed that quilt ever since.   I've even looked for a little 1930's print that would be close to the tulips, etc. so I could re-make it for myself.  Alas, no luck yet.

Sadly, Miss Willie died in 1988.  I have not yet been able to determine where she is buried and even more sadly, I have no photographs of her.  We lost contact with her after my family moved out to Oakton.  I would have liked to have visited her and wish I'd pursued it more then.  All I have left of her is up in my head.  And that's why she takes a spot on the bonus block of AotH.

Note that I changed the color used on the house to GA Banker's Grey.  I wanted a blue gray like was shown in the picture on the chart.  I have shifted some things around to accommodate names and wording, but stayed true to the charted design.  Hope you enjoyed.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to All !!!

I am finally feeling a little bit better.  I haven't taken any cough syrup today.  YAY!  Finally got Teresa's winnings off to her, so hopefully she'll have the Ellen Chester chart for New Year's.  And, today I notified Chris of Tot Hill Farm Stitches that she's the winner of the most recent giveaway.

Since I was sick, I missed out on the second weekend of activities at the historical society.  Everything was in place to run - and I hear ran well - I just missed it all.  Like the Civil War Santa that we had come to talk about Santa's history and Santa in the Civil War.  But, my wonderful, super-duper husband went in and filmed him on our Flip Video cam.  When I have time, I'll sit and watch the movie - It'll be just like being there, right?

Peek at my Christmas tree

I've also been doing some catch up on chores.  Managed to get all the laundry done.  Got the tree set up, painted the mantel, and did the grocery shopping - that required a nap when I got home.  Dusted and swept (just can't seem to work up enough steam to push the vacuum around).  And I am near to finishing the research project I was commissioned to do.  That is due no later than Tuesday.

Tree in the Front Parlor

So I thought I'd share a few pics of the decor at the museum.  We had two trees - and these are trees like they would have had back in the early Victorian era, when "modern" Christmas celebrations in the home were just beginning . . .

Tree in the Ballroom
We had a lot of wonderful living historians come on both weekends.  Here is just one; he's portraying a member of the Union Cavalry.  His sword is long because he needs to use it while mounted.  I was a little confused by the orange trim on his uniform (when I was trying to figure out if he represented the north or the south).  Ken kindly explained to me that it wasn't until late in the war the the trim on the cavalry uniforms became gold.

living historian

I did something a little different with our outdoor decorations at the museum this year.  Usually we hang wreaths on every window, but that's just very labor intensive.  So, this idea just came to me this year.  I digitally drew six silhouettes, each representing the Civil War or Christmas.  Then I took them to one of our local printers - Sir Speedy in Martinsburg.  We'd had them print the invitations to our members tea, so they did this job for me as a sponsor - they printed the silhouettes on the largest paper they had.  I did a little touch up with black marker and we hung them in the windows.  You can see from the pictures that they're easily seen during the daytime and at night, the light from inside glows out of them - like luminaries.  We had a lot of positive comments on this idea.  A bunch of people thought it was really cool.

Close-up of windows
Front of the house where you can see silhouettes in lower windows

And then there were the ornaments.  For the tree in the ballroom we made cornucopias (paper cones), and gold and silver painted nuts.  The cornucopias were filled with candy.  You can't see them in the picture above, but later we had candle clips and my friend Thornton was able to find me candles to fit into the clips.  We did not light the candles.  Oh, and we had paper chains.  The paper items were made from scrapbooking paper that looked like old wallpaper (cause that's what they used back then).  One of our awesome volunteers put all the paper chains together for me - she's a former 1st grade teacher.

The tree in the front parlor was a little more casual.  On it we had strung popcorn and cranberries.  I tied strips of tartan wool around the branches here and there and we hung home-made applesauce/cinnamon ornaments that had been painted to resemble red ware pottery.  We also had gold and silver painted pine cones on this tree as well as gingerbread cookies that were made by one of our local culinary schools.   One volunteer did all the cranberry stringing - she said she poked cranberries until her fingers bled.  Another volunteer took home a whole box (shipping box) of popcorn that I had air-popped and strung all those popcorn chains for me. 

Decoration Closeup

The simplicity of the trees just about drove some of my volunteers nuts - it is not how many of us decorate our trees now, but I kept them focused.  There were so many naysayers that I was a little worried about how the trees would be scrutinized by the public.  Check out the piece that was on the front page of the local paper that answers my question.  Yee Hah!

In all the event was not well attended, although they tell me that the last Saturday was pretty steady.  The dollars and man hours that went into preparing for this tell me that it is something we should curtail in the future.  Lack of local interest, or the economy, whatever is the cause, we can't keep spending good money (and time) after bad.

Well, I've been working away on the final bonus block of Anniversaries of the Heart and should have something wonderful to show you toward the end of the week.  I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.  Ours is going to be small, frugal, and quiet; well, until we talk to son in Washington on the video phone and our granddaughter entertains us for an hour or so.  Whatever you're doing, I hope you have a wonderful time.  Hope you enjoyed!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

1st Giveaway Winner and AotH Update

I set aside the birth sampler so I could work on the December block for AotH.  I can't believe that it's been nearly a year and I'm almost finished with the blocks.

Those who have worked the blocks ahead of me will note some significant changes.  This being a December block, I thought that a little Decemberishness should be displayed.  So, I changed the lower border into holly instead of flowers.  I used WDW "Holly" and GA "Cherry Wine".  Then I changed the birds into Cardinals - the lower one using GA "Apple Cider" plus the house color and the upper one repeating the "Cherry Wine".  Decided not to pretend that my ancestor had made this "sampler" and just put in REMEMBER instead of REMEMBER ME and threw in some extra snowflakes.  I alternated the snowflakes between "Antique Lace" (I used the GA version) and GA "Oatmeal".  Oh, I also was not going to do a green star on the tree with "Mustard Seed".  At least, my mustard seed was green, not gold or yellow.  So, I used "Apple Cider on that too.

The highlighted ancestress is Christina Trapp who was born on December 31, 1783.  She was born in Bullskin Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania.  Back then, it was the frontier.  The Revolution was only just over.  The Whiskey Rebellion yet to begin.  I've been reading up on early county history and from what I read, families were really self-sufficient.  They had to be their own blacksmiths, tanners, farriers, etc.  Christina's father, Andrew, was born in Salt Like Township in 1760 according to researchers.  I think that's just a little too early.  In 1760 they were still fighting the French & Indian War.  Things were bad with the natives in southwestern PA, so I'm not sure that her father would have been born there.  Andrew was the first Justice of the Peace in Fayette County (which was formed the same year Christina was born).  He also operated a mill.

Christina's mother was Catherine.  She died between 1783 and 1789.  In 1789 Andrew remarried and this second wife bore him 10 children.  As an older sister to all those babies, Christina learned how to care for children, and I guess love them - lots of them!  She was married to a neighbor, Michael Senff, on February 12, 1804.  She and Michael migrated on to Ross County, Ohio where they would eventually settle in Green Township.  Christina was the mother of 13 children.  She would lose 7 of those children either at birth, in infancy or childhood.  Can you imagine, having half of your children die?

I am sure that Christina was a needleworker.  She may not have done much for pleasure, but as much as they were pioneers in Pennsylvania and later, in Ohio, there was probably much utilitarian sewing that she had to do.  Christina died on November 17, 1839 and is buried at the White Churches Cemetery in Colerain Township, Ross County, Ohio. I only just found this tombstone picture posted on Find-A-Grave and am disappointed to see that her name was Christi -ANA - Not Christi-na.  I'm pretty sure that her husband knew the proper spelling of her name.  The info I have on her was mostly from my mother's research 30 years ago, so I'm not surprised that new information has now come to light.  I don't think I can change the name on the sampler - not enough room!  Boo Hoo!

I had a lovely lunch with my friend last week and she brought this needlepoint that she'd picked up at an auction.  She was asking me what colors I would use to fill it in.  I suggested a very light green for the bottom and a pale-ish blue for the top.  Then I told her how much I liked it and if she ever saw one like it at the auctions again, pick it up for me.

And then she hands it to me, just like that.  She said it was actually supposed to be one of my Christmas presents.  So, if anyone is out there who does needlepoint, I'm looking to get my hands on some Paternayan needlepoint wool.  Let me know if you have any resources - I know the supply is dwindling like crazy, but . . . It would be just wonderful if that company could pick itself up by its hindquarters and figure out how to do business again!  But, I LOVE this piece and can't wait to see it on the leather sofa I have imagined I'm buying soon. 

Finally, the winner of the giveaway is Theresa S. (aka KiddLady) of Kent, WA.  She's been notified by Email.  Sorry I was late posting the winner - I seem to have come down with the creeping crud after the busy weekend, so I was really under the weather and the covers yesterday.  The second giveaway of the Holiday season is this:

What we have here are two gently used charts - One is Polly the Witch from Brooke's Books and a little Christmasy piece called Sweet Nothings.  Charts only on these.  PLUS some nice little petite needles.  My fingers are too big and fumbly for petites, so it's your lucky day!  This time, you'll need to post a comment here and post about the giveaway on your blogs (for an extra chance).

 Oh, and I have lots of pictures of the Civil War extravaganza, but they're on my other camera that I (DUH!) left in a friend's car.  I hope to get it back tomorrow so I'll fiddle with the pics and get something posted later in the week.  Hope you enjoyed!

Monday, December 5, 2011

First Giveaway of the Holiday Season

I worked a bit more on the birth sampler; am very happy with the results. I have set the sampler aside so I can work on the December block for AotH. I can't believe how close I am to finishing both samplers.

Each week I plan to do a giveaway. Rules are simple. Comment on this post and be a follower and you'll get a chance.

Here's the first giveaway - it's an Ellen Chester design (With My Needle) called Alphabet Samplings Book.  I really love it, but I have had to come to the conclusion that I will never do it.  There's just not enough time.  Chart is brand new, never been used.  Be sure to tell others about this giveaway.  Remember - the more the merrier!  Drawing the name on Monday, December 12.

Funny pictures - I was coming out of the farm market, saw these pigs.  Decided to have a look.  When I stepped out of the car I cautiously walked up to the pen because I wasn't too sure what mama was going to do and I understand pigs can be really, really mean.  So there I was standing next to the pen and this little piglet came running up to me -

 I suddenly felt like I was in the movie Babe.  Then the piglet realized that all its brothers and sisters were eating and it squealed and ran back to its mother.

But then it couldn't get in.  This piglet squealed and squealed.  I laughed and laughed.  It was a great stress reliever.  I should spend more time at the farm market. 

Hope you enjoyed!