March is “Quilt Month!” So, here are some photos of Lincoln’s New Salem’s Hornbuckle quilt. This quilt holds an honored place in New Salem legend and lore. Not because it’s beautiful (it is). Not because it’s a somewhat complicated pattern (which it also is). Not because it has survived over a century (it has). No, this quilt has a direct connection to Lincoln and his lasting reputation.
According to the Hornbuckle family tradition, when Mrs. Hornbuckle purchased the fabric for this “Rob Peter; Pay Paul” quilt, Lincoln accidentally overcharged her. When he realized his error, the New Salem storekeeper walked miles to the Hornbuckle home to refund the money. That’s why we call him “Honest Abe!”
The close-up of the quilt shows the edge of the back side. You can see that Mrs. Hornbuckle also used some of the blue print fabric there! Why? Maybe she needed the extra yardage for the back? Maybe she wanted the quilt to look more interesting when it was turned down on the bed? Maybe there was some other reason? While we will likely never know the explanation for the partially pieced back, we do know that this quilt is a treasure!
In fact, the Ann Rutledge Quilters considered it to be such a treasure that they made a replica of the quilt for display in the historic village during the summer season. Much careful study went into the original to produce this copy. The replica (which is also called the “Orange Peel” pattern) was proudly displayed at the New Salem Lincoln League Annual dinner meeting in February, 2017. The Ann Rutledge Quilters meet the second Saturday of every month at 9 AM in the New Salem Visitor Center. If you’re interested in quilts, quilting and want to join them, you would certainly be welcome! Special thanks to Mark Flotow for the photo of the reproduction quilt!