During the 19th century signature quilts became popular with American quilt makers. Also called friendship, autograph or album quilts, these quilts were more than just bedcovers. The names on the quilt were representative of a community of women and men that were commemorating an achievement, celebrating a milestone or saying farewell.
The Chester Criswell Quilt was made to celebrate the 1852 marriage of Mary McClellan Criswell and Jesse Jackson Smith. Over eighty people are represented on the quilt including Mary’s family, school friends and neighbors.
There are many examples of these quilts in museums and private collections. What makes this quilt unique is that it has been passed from mother to daughter and it now belongs to Sharon Barnes, great-great-great-granddaughter of Mary McClellan Criswell.
Barnes has spent the last four years researching the Chester Criswell quilt’s provenance and at the same time making a reproduction quilt by hand. This research has provided a foundation for a collection of stories about the women that made the first quilt. ‘Round is the Ring That Has No End’ combines quilt history and narration in a first time e-book from a new author.