Seldom do we find a quilt pattern with just one name. Just a few are Jacob's Ladder, Underground Railroad, Road to California, Off to San Francisco, Gone to Chicago, Stepping Stones and Trail of the Covered Wagon.It's fun to imagine what might have inspired these names.
Underground Railroad in Loudoun County, Virginia » Most people shudder at the sight of a black lawn jockey.When Marie Webster wrote the first known book on quilting in 1915 she referred to the Jacob's Ladder pattern in this way, "The bold and rather heavy design known as 'Jacobs Ladder' is a good example of a pieced quilt." She showed a black and white picture of this pattern with the caption, "One of the most striking quilts having Biblical names." Biblical names were often used for quilts in a time when reading the Bible each day was a part of family life.The quilt block pictured just below is much like the example Marie Webster displayed in her book.A young black man named Tom Graves wanted to fight but Washington said he was too young and asked the boy to hold a lantern for the troops as they crossed the Delaware, Goings writes.(Some versions of this story say it was Graves’ son, "Jocko," a nickname or given name, who died holding the reins of the horses.) When the troops rowed back after the battle, instead of finding their horses hitched to a post, the reins were in the hands of Graves, who had frozen to death.
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A commemorative pattern like this reveals the importance the Underground Railroad had to people not only during the time it helped slaves escape but for many, many years after the Civil War.