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Quilt traces threads of history


ANCRAM—A very old quilt will benefit the very young during the second annual Ancram Community Days celebration this weekend.

The 154-year-old red and white quilt, now called the Mary Moon Rockefeller quilt, was made by Mary Moon in 1856, when she was 19, the year of her marriage to Albert Rockefeller. The Rockefellers had two children, and Mrs. Rockefeller died at the age of 22 in 1859.

A name of Mrs. Rockefeller’s family member appears in each of the 30 squares on the quilt. The names include: Knickerbocker, Silvernail, Rockefeller, Vosburgh, Hoysradt, “my mother” and “my father,” according to Ancram Historian Clara VanTassel.

The large cotton quilt, which is well-preserved by all accounts, has been in the care of the Rockefeller family for all these years. The Ancram Preservation Group obtained the quilt and will formally present it to the town Saturday at 11 a.m. Once the quilt is completely restored it will be kept on permanent display at the Town Hall.

Special sets of six notecards, one with a B. Docktor photograph of the quilt, will be sold during Community Day to raise money for the new playground planned by the Ancram Youth Commission. Vintage farm photos, plus images of collages created by local artist Lynne Perrella, are on the other notecards in the set, which sells for $15.

Quilts can serve many purposes and reveal much about the history of a place, according to Columbia County Historical Society Curator Diane Shewchuk.

The Mary Moon Rockefeller quilt is an album quilt, documenting a family or close connections in the quilter’s life. There are signature quilts and remembrance quilts, which might be given as a souvenir or gift to remember one by; crazy quilts, decorative quilts, pattern quilts and quilts made just to provide warmth, said Ms. Shewchuk.

Quilts can reveal the names of people who lived in certain area during a certain time and what materials or fabrics were available to the quilter to make the quilt.

Historians are interested in the story or “provenance” of a quilt, the genealogy of a quilt, who owned it in successive generations, said the curator.

Quilts are often heirlooms because they are easily saved, preserved and passed from generation to generation. They can be folded up, ideally rolled up, put somewhere and saved.

“Quilts provide warmth and have sentimental value, there is something about them that says home, not like a silver tea set that not everyone can own,” said Ms. Shewchuk.

In an effort to tell future generations something about Columbia County in 2009, the year of the Hudson-Fulton celebration, the county historical society commissioned a quilt with a block from every town in the county. Historians from each town were asked to submit a block of a certain size bearing an image representative of their town. Some blocks are embroidered, some are appliqué and some are printing on fabric. “Quilts are popular, people just love them,” she said.

The historical value of the Mary Moon Rockefeller quilt is enhanced by a companion genealogical record compiled by Peter Silvernail that also documents the names of residents at the time and how they were related, according to Robin Massa, a Gallatin resident who did some digging into the Rockefeller quilt’s genealogy.

“It’s a really nice piece,” she said of the quilt, noting that Mary Moon and her parents are buried in Vedder Cemetery in Gallatin, which was once a part of Ancram.

To contact Diane Valden email

Ancram celebrates family, farming and history

ANCRAM—Fun for everyone at Ancram Community Days starts Saturday, August 15, with a tractor pull at 9 a.m. on the grounds of the Town Hall.

At the same location, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., children can enjoy a water slide, pony rides, face painting, milk shakes and looking at exotic amphibians while their parents, grandparents, and friends buy tickets for a special auction of children’s gifts.

Vendors will sell T-shirts and caps, fresh baked bread and local farm produce.

From 9 a.m. to noon, the Ancram Fire Company has arranged for representatives from Sausbiers to fill, recharge and sell fire extinguishers to the public.

The Ancram Hotel will sell breakfast on the Town Hall grounds. Lunch will be available from both the fire company and the hotel.

In the town hall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Ancram Town Historian Clara Van Tassel will show the DVD “Ancram 1985”, plus she and Robin Massa will scan old family photos and pictures of historic places into the town’s historic archives.

Proceeds generated by many community days’ activities will benefit the Ancram Youth Commission, which is heading up a drive to build a playground for children ages 2 to 14 on the grounds of the Ancram Town Hall, according to event organizer and Councilman Jim Miller.

Among the activities that will benefit the playground fund is a tag sale at nearby Simon’s General Store, Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sponsored by the Ancram Angels and the Ancram Preservation Group, the sale will feature a Victorian-era birdcage, vintage clothing and accessories, Japanese kimonos and home décor.

Back at town hall, the fire company will offer their award-winning chicken barbecue from 5 to 7 p.m. Call (518) 329-3430 to reserve a ticket.

On Sunday, August 15, Ancram Community Days will conclude with an all-faith service at the Ancramdale Presbyterian Church at 9:30 a.m., followed by a potluck brunch at 11 a.m. in Fellowship Hall next door.




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