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Hannah Thomas Chrisman's Quilt

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Pennsylvaniamap
Surnames/tags: Chrisman, Moore, Lee, Swain Quakers
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Below is the unedited version of the letter from DAR museum researcher, Deborah Cooney, who has asked for help in establishing the identity of the Quaker quilt maker, "HTC" in 1833.

"I am a quilt researcher at the DAR Museum in Washington, DC. A quilt in our collection with the initials HTC and date 1833 is the subject of new research. I have discovered that the likely maker is either Hannah Thomas Christman or Hannah Thomas Christman Lee. All of the Quaker records I've seen have the older Hannah dying in 1816, well before the quilt's date. As you have noted, Find a Grave puts the birth dates of two of her children as 1822 (Rebecca) and 1824 (Hannah), meaning she lived at least until 1824. Isaac was born to the Isaac's second wife 11 years later, leaving a large gap.

If the older Hannah lived until 1833, the initials on the quilt would be hers. Young Hannah would have been nine years old in 1833; quiltmakers that young are possible if they had help. If any more information surfaces on the death date of the elder Hannah, I would be grateful to have it for our narrative on the background of this quilt.

See the quilt in the Quilt Index file: http://www.quiltindex.org/fulldisplay.php?kid=46-7A-15F

and my conclusions about the maker:

The donors of the Diamond Square quilt were collectors, so no family provenance accompanied the quilt. A woven tape attached to the quilt has a typed inscription: "Made in 1833/owned by/Mrs. C.E. Hedden." Handwritten notes in the file (unidentified author) state that the last family owner was Martha Lee Swain, born 1890s, of Bucks County, Pa. Her ancestors were said to be member of the Chandler and Lee families of Berks County, Pa., and Tuckertown, N.J. Martha was said to the great-granddaughter of Martha Lee of Tuckertown, N.J., born in the 1790s, and that both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey branches of the family were Quakers.

Research in 2019 has not been able to substantiate many of these details but has documented a different line of descent for Martha L. Swain and Mrs. C.E. Hedden that suggests the name of the quiltmaker.

The search for a Martha Lee born 1780 to 1800 and living in Berks County or Ocean County (Tuckertown) in Ancestry.com and its Quaker monthly meeting records, and published Hinshaw and other Quaker records did not produce a woman matching those life details. The search for Martha L. Swain born in the 1890s in New Jersey and Berks/Bucks Counties in the same databases plus Newspapers.com found only one person that matched the known details: Martha Lillian (not Lee) Woolman Swain (1902-2000). While she may have been the last family owner, the person named on the attached tape is Elizabeth R. Moore, Mrs. Clarence E. Hedden (1900-1988). They were first cousins, daughters of siblings Hannah D.G. Moore Swain (1859-1944) and Horace E. Moore (1861-1939). Elizabeth does not appear to have had any children and probably predeceased Martha, the supposed last owner of the quilt. Ancestors of both cousins going back several generations were Quakers. An almost complete family tree for Martha L.M. Swain traced back to her great-great grandparents did not include a Martha Lee. However, the ancestors of Rebecca Moore Hedden’s mother Ella Lydia Chrisman Moore (1871-1951) include two possible candidates for HTC: Hannah Thomas Chrisman (1779-1816?) or Hannah Thomas Chrisman (Lee), 1824-1902. All the Quaker records consulted give Hannah T. Chrisman’s death date as 1816, years before the date stitched on the quilt. She was married to Isaac B. Chrisman (1781-1860) with whom she had several children. Isaac’s second wife was Margaret Lee (1792-1866); they had several children. Quaker records and several family trees on Ancestry name Margaret as mother to Hannah Thomas Chrisman (b. 1824), Rebecca Lee Chrisman (b. 1822), and Isaac F. Chrisman (b. 1835). Burial records, however, list Isaac F. as a half-sibling to Hannah and Rebecca; he was born 11 years after his nearest sibling Hannah. This information, if true, would mean that Hannah Thomas Chrisman lived longer than previously thought, giving birth to daughter Hannah Thomas Chrisman in 1824, and possibly living long enough to finish the quilt in 1833. Isaac B. Chrisman’s last child Isaac F. was not born until 1835 to Margaret Lee Chrisman. It would seem odd for Margaret and Isaac B. to name their child Hannah Thomas after a deceased first wife. If the elder Hannah did die in 1816, her daughter Hannah, also HTC, would have to have made the quilt when she was nine years old. This is not impossible as she probably had help making it. She and her husband James Lee (1828-1906) did not have children, so the quilt seems to have passed to her (half-) brother’s granddaughter Elizabeth Rebecca Moore Hedden." Deborah Cooney (resmar@comcast.net)

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Please go ahead and add everything you can to the profiles. I really appreciate it!
Hi Alexandra

I located the Exeter Monthly Meeting records scanned on Ancestry. Hannah Thomas Chrisman definitely died in 1816. Hannah T. was the daughter of his second wife, Margaret Lee. I will add everything with citations to the profiles involved or I can pass what I have to you and you can make the changes, just let me know.


posted by H Husted