Delilah and the quilt/hold the Sampson

Mrs. Lyle Hannan Springsteen was my great-grandmother.  She was born in 1868, and married John Henry Springsteen in 1886.  I’m sure her parents, John and Anna Hannan, thought they would never marry her off!  They were married for 41 years, just as DH and I have been.  John died in 1927, and she lived on to 1968!  Can you imagine what it must have been like to be a widow for 41 years, after being married for 41?

But what about Delilah?  That name was never spoken, and didn’t come to my knowledge until I read the obituary.  She was raised Church of the Brethren, or “Dunkards”.  Most folks lump them in with the Amish or Mennonites; the Amish would consider them “fancy”, though.  They were pacifists,  plain people, with a strong faith.  The selection of that name from all the Biblical choices is a family mystery.  Clearly, she was uncomfortable with it.

Delilah was an exquisite quilter.  She mostly made scrap quilts, as times were lean and she had only Social Security (she was one of the first recipients).  However, this quilt was made to mark my father’s high school graduation in 1929.  It is mostly golden yellow and white, but there are a few small squares of paler yellow in one block.  It is bound with feed-sack muslin, as I discovered one bleached-but-evident spot of writing on the back of the quilt.

over-view of quilt made 1929

over-view of quilt made 1929

This is the only quilt she made that didn’t feature scraps, so you know it was a truly special gift!  I believe the pattern would be called a Double Irish chain.

The quilting is done at 10 stitches/inch.  As a child, I witnessed quilting there, with the frame made of long boards, propped up on the backs of dining room chairs.  This put the quilting nearer eye than lap level, and allowed for a group of women to sit around it and quilt.  Her friends from the Fairview Ladies’ Aide probably helped quilt this.  I know they quilted my baby blanket, and my first-born’s baby blanket, which has been used by two of my daughters and 4 grandchildren.

Here’s a look at the feather quilting in the sashing:

feather-quilted sashing

feather-quilted sashing

Delilah was the guest-of-honor at our wedding in 1966.  She wore black – not in disapproval, but because that was considered proper “dress-up” for her.

We had been married only two years when she died.  That obituary listed 10 grandchildren, 2 great-grand children (my brother  and I), 20 great-great grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchildren!  We weren’t even thinking of having children, yet in another branch of the family we would have been great-grandparents ourselves!  Yipes! What a surprise:  all those people I’d never heard of!  The generational slippage occurred when 3 generations married later than the current average:  my grandmother at 20, my father at 34, and I at 21.

And one final mystery was solved in the safe deposit box yesterday.  Delilah and my father shared the same middle name:  Frances.  I hadn’t known he was named to honor her.



  1. Marsha said,

    July 23, 2008 at 10:55 am

    What a lovely story and a beautiful quilt! I remember my grandmother quilting when I was a kid, and that frame that hung from the ceiling. I’ve got a quilt that she made me from scraps of clothing that were mine growing up. I think that she actually did this for all the grandchildren. I also happen to be her only grandchild that quilts. Thanks for sharing the story and I look forward to reading more.

  2. Lucy said,

    December 10, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    A lovely quilt.

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