History of the Signature Quilt

In making and laying away this quilt, the ladies of the Aid Society of the First Lutheran Church, Oklahoma City, Okla., have two objects in mind: first – to give to the citizens of 2013 a record of the men and women living today, whose generosity, thoughtfulness, civic pride and unfailing hope for the future have made it possible to bury this chest; second, those women who have lovingly worked stitch after stitch of the many stitches, wish to give to their daughters' daughters some idea of their needlework, and an example of womanly thrift and old fashioned art.

The plan of the quilt originated with our good President, Mrs. George G. Sohlberg, who appointed a quilt committee composed of Mesdames John H. Shirk, Chairman, D.N. Wolf, H. Steanson and Chas Hoshour, whose work it was to prepare all blocks to transfer each signature from the original hand writing, see that each block was nearly worked, and at last all blocks joined and quilted. Actual work was begun the second week of February, 1913.

Dr. R. F. Schaefer and John H. Shirk gave an entire evening to the making of a perfect pattern, so that each line dividing the circle might fall from the points and centers of the star. The idea of the pattern was suggested by the Great Seal of the State of Oklahoma. Mr. Shirk marked plainly each block from this pattern.

Blocks were outlined and names worked by the following members: Mesdames Geo. Smith, Tom Erickson, Geo. Houghton, H.B. Houghton, Corwin Finn, Guy Miller, H.G. Robinson, Chas. Hoshour, Peter Norstrom, D.N. Wolf, R.F. Schaefer, John H. Shirk, Newton Royer, Chas. Geiser, H. Steanson, George Sohlberg, and H.F. Gates, and the Misses Stella Faulter, Tressa Dawson and Grace Stimmel. The blocks were joined by Mrs. Frances Shirk, of Goshen, Indiana, then visiting her son, John H. Shirk.

On April 10, 1913 at the home of Mrs. John Forsberg, the quilting was done by the following ladies: D.N. Wolf, Newton Royer, Chas. Zilch, N.F. Gates, H. Steanson, Frances Shirk, Mrs. L.K.F. Kelly, A. Goodholm, John Shirk, R.F. Schaefer and her mother Mrs. Karow. The entire day was spent in quilting, and a delicious noon-day dinner was served by Mesdames Forsberg and Norstrom.

Lest in 2013 menus be so different, we here give those things which were served at the dinner. Roast beef with brown gravy and bread dressing, mashed potatoes, peas, waldorf salad, spiced peaches, bread and butter and jelly; as a dessert, peach jello with fruit, nuts and whipped cream, white cake and coffee.

Mrs. Wolf and Frances Shirk were noted as the speediest quilters, while Mrs. Royer was credited with the smallest stitches. The edges were bound by Frances Shirk, and the finished quilt was given over to the President, Mrs. Sohlberg, who placed it in the window of the Myser China and Glass Company store, the everyone might see – and – admire it, before it be laid-away in the chest.

Every person whose signature appears on the quilt, paid $1.00 for the privilege, - and each signature is again found in the historic ledger, left in the chest. The collecting of these signatures represents much time and sacrifice on the part of our women: some were able to bring in but few signatures, while others devoted days to the work, and those to whom most credit must be given are our President, Mrs. Sohlberg, Mrs. N. F. Gates, Mrs. John J. Wetzel, Mrs. R. F. Schaefer, Mrs. Webster Condon, Mrs. Victor Smith, Mrs. L. K. F. Kelly and to Mr. Chas. Wiggen who boosted the work in the Rotary Club.

Many others, whose names are not mentioned, assisted the chairman in her work, especially children who carried blocks back and forth, and especially six year old Benjamin Schaefer, who was the most faithful and interested errand boy, bringing in finished blocks, and carrying out the unsewn ones, often hauling them in his home-made cigar-box wagon.

Who shall be the owner of the Century Quilt in 2013 we do not know, but we fold it away until that time, knowing it will be a prized and interesting article to our children's children, whose wives and daughters will then constitute the "Ladies Aid". We trust the bright red, the color of happiness, may not have faded; that the many stitches of patience and love may not have drawn or loosened: that the spotless white of the material may not have discolored with age, when the quilt shall again be unfolded, but more than this we trust and pray that those men and women be not forgotten and their work unappreciated whose generosity, pride, thoughtfulness, love and hope have laid well today the foundation for the city and Church of tomorrow.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
April 22nd 1913

Back to the quilt page