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Description of the Collection

Historical Comment

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                      MENNONITE QUILTS OF WATERLOO COUNTY -- ONE FAMILY'S QUILTS
                                                 QUILTS FROM THREE GENERATIONS

The quilts on this page are all from the same family.
The information about them was obtained from telephone conversations with Mr. Aaron Martin (February 24, 2003)
and with his sister, Mary Gingrich (February 28, 2003).
(Both were kind enough to give persmission to quote them.)

(For more information on the family please see Historical Comment)


Catalogue Number 19 -- Crown of Thorns

Catalogue Number 45 -- Steeplechase
The above two quilts (19 and 45) were made around 1910. Lydia Martin was the mother of Aaron Martin and Mary Gingrich. The quilt on the right was made by Lydia Martin's mother (Annie [Weber?] Martin, wife of Moses Martin) or by her mother-in-law. (Lydia was the last to own it). The quilt on the left was also owned by Lydia Martin, but it is not known who made it.
Catalogue Numbers 3, 52, and 57 -- Log Cabin
(There are variations of borders, size, and some colors -- leading to each having a different effect.)
  • The above three quilts were made around 1930 by Lydia Martin, the mother of Aaron Martin and Mary (Martin) Gingrich. Lydia Martin was born in 1892 and died in 1987 at 95. She had four daughters. One was Mary. Another was named Leah. Lydia and Leah (deceased) lived in St. Jacob's.
  • Lydia Martin made four, nearly identical quilts for each of her four daughters. The above quilts are three of the four.
  • Mary Gingrich said, "One was mine. It’s quilts she made for all the girls. Red and yellow. That’s the fireplace. Hers [Leah's?] was dark. Could have been hers. ... I had mine on the bed. It was dark so we used it in the winter for a spread. We kind of treasured them. We didn’t use them much. I suppose I should feel sorry we sold them, but they’re gone." She said hers had a dark blue border, so it could have been 52 above.
  • Aaron Martin describes his mother, Lydia, as being a serious quilter. He described her as a “quiet person”, who “didn’t have much to say”, who “didn’t lift her head much”, and who “was not outgoing.” In this respect she was like her father, Moses Martin, who “was a man of few words” and who, when he spoke, “then people listened.”
  • Mary said about her mother, "“She was reserved and not an outgoing person. ... She was a quiet person, didn’t have much to say. Didn’t lift her head much. Not outgoing. Dad was a minister ordained in 1914 at 26. A leader of his group that split in 1939. She was submissive."
  • Mrs. Gingrich said her mother was "very conservative". She described her as “very particular” when it came to quilting, and “we had to come up to the best. ... She tried to fill our hope chests. They used patches left over from when they made clothes, scraps, for scrap quilts. She also bought by the yard. Sometimes she bought the main color.”
Catalogue Number 18 -- Nine Patch
Catalogue Number 28 -- Nine Patch
  • The above two quilts were made by Mary and her sister Leah (deceased) around 1930 under the supervision of their grandmother Annie (wife of Moses Martin).
  • When asked how she learned to quilt, she said, “Mother to daughter. Trial and error.”
  • She recalls the blue Nine Patch on which she practiced (one of the two above): “two stitches and a back stitch; two stiches and a back stitch ...”
Catalogue Number 32  -- Flower Pot .
  • Mary Gingrich says the above Flower Pot quilt was made by her sister Leah.
  • She said she made one too, but she used it so much that it wore out.
  • "Leah never married so that’s why her quilts didn’t use quite as hard."
  • It was probably made in the 1930's.