A Passion for Quilting — Part II Hardworking women were the grit that created cash flow into the church
Introducing "The church ladies of Knox": business-minded, talented, and dedicated women. Visualizing the enormous impact they had on their community is inspirational.
Part of the Knox Historical Society's collection includes minutes from this group of quilters dating back to 1926. In a special presentation to the Knox Reformed Church, the Knox quilters indicated there were 35 participating members from 1926 to 1994. The scanned minutes will be on display at the Knox Quilt Show on Aug. 3.
At first, the ladies met in their respective homes — quilting, socializing, lending support in many ways. After a fashion, it was decided to bring their group to the Knox church hall. The Ladies Aid Society, as the membership was known, met once a week. The annual dues were 52 cents. Can you imagine?
The women would sit around the quilting frame, expertly creating their masterpieces. The frame could accommodate eight or more quilters at a time.
You can almost hear the joyous chatter in the church hall — farmers’ wives catching up on all the news, laughing and carefully tending to their task while the children played to exhaustion.
As quoted from the minutes: "...they got a nice lot done of the quilt and there was a good number present."
Behind the scenes of organizing quilt meets, church suppers, ice-cream socials, picnics, and craft booths at the church fair, were the faces of the Ladies Aid Society. These hardworking women were the grit that created cash flow into the church.
Earnings from their projects were used for church and parsonage improvements. An addition was put on the dining hall. The minister received part of his salary. "Vermont flood sufferers" received $25 in aid. They successfully cared for their church and their families as well as those outside their community.
Around 1939, the parsonage needed a supply of water. What did the society's ladies do? They dug ditches so water could be brought in! The minutes included a little hallelujah: "No sulpher water now — praise the Lord."
On the day-long meeting days of the Ladies Aid Society, you can picture the women taking care of chores, gathering the youngsters, and packing the food they would share.
Then their feet would carry them to the church. Some members remembered Ethel White walking two miles each way. Come wintertime, she hopped on her bobsled for the journey.
Other tidbits noted in the minutes include Nickie Barber always bringing pickles to share and birthdays being celebrated with cake and presents.
Demonstrating their quilting at the Albany Institute of History and Art in 1995 was a nice shout-out for the Knox quilters. This "Meet the Folk Artists" show revealed the depth of artistry alive in the Hilltowns.
Demonstrations were also part of the Altamont Fair for a number of years. Although the quilting group disbanded in 2006, many of the Knox group are out and about, honing their craft.
The Knox Historical Society Quilt Show will be displaying many of the quilts made by the Ladies Aid Society. Also included in the show will be demonstrations of hand-quilting by former Knox Church quilters Pat Lightbody and Kris Zimmer. They will share their quilting talents from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m.
Tune in next week as we get ready to embrace the Quilt Show extravaganza celebration in the Hilltowns.