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Stitches in time
Museum celebrating Kansas' 150th anniversary
loc B1 slt-quilt MAIN photo-BIG
Susan Gray, left, and Mary Doyle present a quilt celebrating the Kansas Sesquicentennial, Wednesday at the Barton County Historical Society Museum. The museum will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Kansas becoming a state all year long. - photo by Susan Thacker

About the Kansas

Sesquicentennial Quilt

A quilt commemorating Kansas statehood’s 150th anniversary was presented to the Barton County Historical Society by members of the Central Kansas Thread-Benders Quilt Guild of Great Bend on Jan. 12, 2011.

Information on the quilt and individual blocks:

Block patterns, creators (L to R)

Row 1: Centennial Star, Pam Sweeney, Great Bend; Kansas Beauty, Eloise Winkelman, Ellinwood; Kansas Star, Alice Stoskopf, Great Bend; Road to California, Colleen Newman, Great Bend

Row 2: Indian Hatchet, Phyllis Bosley, Great Bend; Courthouse Steps, Roberta Whithorn, Great Bend; State Fair Sunflower, Mary Lou Weiser, Great Bend; Windmill, Debbie Berkley, Great Bend

Row 3: Kansas Troubles, Susan Simmons, Radium; Road to the White House, Lois Wagner, Otis; Maple Leaf, Sharon King, Great Bend; Corn and Beans, Susan Gray, Radium

Row 4: Corn and Beans, Susan Gray; Kansas Dugout, Iva Behrens, Great Bend; Tonganoxie 9 Patch, Hilda Roberts, Great Bend; Whirlwind, Karen Ganoung, Hoisington

Corner blocks: State Fair Sunflower, Mary Doyle, Great Bend

Blocks pieced by Central Kansas Thread-Benders Quilt Guild members Ann Tennant, Claflin, and Mary Doyle

Quilted by Dwight and Beth Boese, Ellinwood

Blocks were taken from "Kansas Spirit, 15 Historical Quilt Blocks & The Saga of the Sunflower State," by Jeanne Poore, Kansas City, Kan.

Throughout the years, Kansas settlers marked their weddings or the birth of a child with one of the most functional works of art known — the quilt. Some are fabric masterpieces; others were made with scraps, flour sacks or whatever fabric was available, for the sole purpose of providing warmth.

Now a new quilt by members of the Central Kansas Thread-Benders Quilt Guild in Great Bend graces the Barton County Historical Society Museum. This commemorative piece celebrates the Kansas Sesquicentennial — 150 years of statehood — as the historical society kicks off its own year-long celebration.

Beverly Komarek, executive director of the museum, said quilts are an important part of Kansas history. "They needed quilts to survive."

The Dodge House, one of the buildings that make up the Barton County Historical Village on the museum grounds, has among its exhibits a wool quilt made out of men’s trousers. Other quilts are stored in the museum headquarters, where there is better climate control. What appears to be a mattress on an antique bed is actually a stack of quilts, each separated by a white cotton sheet.

"We’re trying to do the best preservation we know how," Komarek said, noting some of the quilts and quilt tops in the museum’s possession are as old as the state itself, and quite fragile. Storing the quilts in this way doesn’t allow for easy viewing, but is preferred to folding or hanging for preservation.

The easiest way for guests to view the collection is on a slide show. Information on when each quilt was made, by whom, and with what materials is provided, if known.

The Thread-Benders provided all of that information and more for the Sesquicentennial Quilt, making it the best-documented piece in the collection. The gift is important today, Komarek said. "Fifty years from now it will be a prize possession. It’s part of the history of Barton County," she told the quilt guild members, "and you’re in it."