An Enchant Quilt

Enchant Sions Ladies Aid Quilt, 1919. Photograph from Lethbridge living archives, Spring 2005.

Enchant Sions Ladies Aid Quilt, 1919. Photograph from Lethbridge living archives, Spring 2005.

We often get requests from researchers around community celebrations and centennials. But it's even more fun when it's your own hometown that's having the centennial.

A week or so ago I was approached by someone from Enchant who was looking for information related to the founding of the community in 1914. I am very much looking forward to spending some time seeing what I can find. But I also see this as an opportunity to collect some historical information from the community when they're in a historical way of mind.

In our Collection we have a few items from Enchant. One is a fabulous homemade fabric device designed to cover a horse's ears so sand flies could not enter. It's from the 1920s and is a very fun item with a great story.

We also have a quilt made in 1919 by the Sion's Ladies Aid. This group was part of the Zion Lutheran Church which later amalgamated with the Ibbestad Luthern Church. This quilt is signed by several women. Some information on the quilt came in from the donor (Myrtle Brodie) whose mother, sister and grandmother all have their names on the quilt. Some more information came to light when Lethbridge living magazine did an article on the quilt. (Lethbridge living was also gracious enough to send me a photograph of the quilt so we did not need to unroll and photograph it again.) But virtually nothing had been collected on the other ladies whose names appear on the quilt.

Last fall, Lucie Heins from the Royal Alberta Museum was down as part of a quilting program and this quilt was one of two out on display for the program participants. I became intrigued because of the connection of the quilt with Enchant and I recognized several of the last names. I spoke with Kevin MacLean, our Collections Manager, and asked if he would like me to find out what I could.

Through the Enchant history book and various other documents I have found short biographies of 75% of the names but have not been able to find everyone. So I've made the deal that I will come out to the planning meeting for the Centennial and help with whatever research I can if people help me with the quilt research. Should be fun to see what all of us together can find about the quilt and the women who signed it.

The quilt is also connected to another object we have in our collection. A couple of years ago in our Treasures and Curiosities exhibit, some people might have been surprised that I chose as my object a bed pan. I chose it because of the story attached to it. In 1920 a mother gave birth to twins. Because of an infection in the hospital, she was sent home and was told to take the bed pan with her. Unfortunately, the bed pan had not been properly cleaned and she acquired an infection from the bedpan. The mother died. The twins were then raised by their grandparents. How are the quilt and bedpan connected? Both came from the same donor and the mother, grandmother and older sister of the twins all have their names on the quilt. A date of 1919 is on the quilt which suggests it was made 1 year prior to the mother's death. The two objects together tell an even more incredible story about women and motherhood and life on the prairies 100 years ago.

I'll keep you updated on anything else interesting that I find.