Thursday, October 23, 2014

Martha Caroline Thomander

My daughter has been doing a lot of family history research lately and sent me this fascinating story about my husband's great grandmother, Martha Caroline Thomander, pictured here on the left and with her daughter Oneida May Anderson, Mike's paternal grandmother.  Here is an excerpt from her life sketch about quilting!  The fascinating part is how much a yard of fabric cost in the late 1800's!

"With my small earnings I would buy all my cloths and cotton yarn for tides and quilt cloth. I bought 20 yards of quilt cloth for 5 cents a yard, at the Z.C.M.I. in Salt Lake in 18l0. And I have one of my quilts lined with it now. (Note - We turned this quilt into the General Relief Society Museum in the 1930s - it was still in good condition and very beautiful - a double wedding ring design as I remember) I made four quilts before I was 19. I started my trousseau when I was 8 years old. When I got a piece of calico, no matter how small, I took care of it and made them into blocks so when I made my first quilt. Mother gave me the sheep’s wool. I washed it and carded it and quilted my quilt. I made it a habit to go out in the chicken coop and pick up feathers. In that way I had two very nice pillows. I made two very pretty hooked rugs and some for mother. In those days homemade carpets was a luxury (Luxury) Mother and I we maid (made) 50 yards of carpet. We colored the pale rags in many colors. The yellow we colored in the flowers of rabbit brush, the black in ragweed (?) (or log wood) and so on. I wove the 25 yards of carpet for my schear. In those days we maid our own soap out of the fat from sheep and cattle, and out of the tallow I maid candles to give us light. I also maid cheese and butter, salted our own meat, beef and pork and dried it, and then we smoked it. O it was delicious. I maid my own quilts, did all my sewing by hand for more than 12 years."

Someone probably transcribed this from her journals or writings and did the best they could. It looks like she bought the fabric in 1810 at ZCMI in Salt Lake City, but that couldn't be, as Salt Lake City was founded in 1847. I am trying to find out when she was born so we can come up with a more accurate guess on that date. My daughter said she was born and grew up in Ephraim, Utah. Quite interesting! Five cents a yard?? And now we pay over $11 a yard! We do have nice fabric nowadays though and a lot of modern conveniences to make quilting very fun and enjoyable, so I am NOT complaining :) I also found it interesting how she treasured every scrap of fabric she could get her hands on and started her trousseau when she was eight years old. I have a feeling Martha and I would have gotten along very well!
(OK, Megan said she lived from 1866 to 1957 so we are guessing she bought that fabric in SLC in either 1890 or possibly 1910.)

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