Westering Women: Block 2
By Becky Brown
By Becky Brown
St Joseph, Missouri, was another boom town that supplied western travelers with wagons, oxen and food for the trip across the continent, another of what were called "Jumping Off Places."
Hilly St. Joseph overlooked the Missouri River and the territories beyond.
In June, 1847, Elizabeth Dixon Smith recorded her first day beyond the U.S. in her diary:
"Passed through St. Joseph on the bank of the Missouri. Laid in our flour, cheese and crackers and medicine for no one should travel this road without medicine for they are almost sure to have the summer complaint....
[The next day]
Crossed the Missouri. Doubled teams with difficulty ascended a hill or mountain. Traveled 3 miles and encamped. We are now in Indian territories."
Kansas and Nebraska were Indian Territory in the 1840s and into the 1850s. Travelers tempted to try to settle the pretty countryside west of Missouri had to keep moving.
George Catlin's map shows the reserves assigned to the various Eastern tribes west of the Missouri border (the brighter horizontal strips). The green stripe was the reserve assigned to the Kickapoo, moved west from the Great Lakes. Below them the narrow yellow strip was assigned to the Delaware people moved from their original lands in New York and New Jersey. The tan-colored area was the traditional home of native tribes.
From a period map drawn on linen
The land was promised forever to native tribes like the Kansas and the Osage and to resettled Eastern tribes like the Shawnee.
George Catlin, painting of Wáh-chee-te,
Wife of Cler-mónt, and Child, 1834
Collection of the Smithsonian Institution
The Smith party made only three miles that first day because they had to wait to cross the Wolf River. The next day they traveled at a more typical pace covering 18 miles.
Albert Bierstadt painted the ford at the Wolf River west of St. Joseph.
The tribes who camped at the passages often charged a toll fee to cross.
The bank may have looked like "a hill or mountain" to Elizabeth Dixon Smith, but wagons crossed these small rivers (we call them creeks today) at the lowest and most stable spots.
From the collection of the Kansas State Historical Society
In 1859 Beirstadt's brothers took a photo of the ford at Wolf River---
painters and diarists might exaggerate for drama's sake.
Block 2, Indian By Denniele Bohannon
We can recall the pre-Civil War years when half the United States was home to native tribes with a block called Indian. Quilt designers in the 1930s named several blocks in variations of the word Indian, primarily because the quilt pattern looked like something one might find in a Navajo rug or a pueblo pot. Nancy Page in her fictional syndicated quilt club named this one, which is BlockBase #2050
Cutting a 12" Block
A - Cut 4 squares 3-1/2" x 3-1/2"
B - Cut 4 light and 4 dark squares 3-7/8"
Cut each into 2 triangles with a diagonal cut. You need 8 triangles.
C - Cut 1 square 6-1/2" x 6-1/2"
Sewing the Block
Martha Spence Haywood
about the time of her journey in the 1850s
One of the very few references I found to quiltmaking on the trails was in Martha Spence Haywood's journal. She peeked into a tent in a Native American settlement near Fort Laramie and saw several women working: "One was making patchwork."
Martha Spence Haywood's journal was published in Not By Bread Alone: The Journal of Martha Spence Haywood, 1850-56 (Utah State Historical Society, 1978).
Elizabeth Dixon Smith's was published in T.T. Geer's Fifty Years in Oregon in 1912. Read it online at this link:
Block 2 Indian By Linda Mooney