This Friday, we look at change in the 1870s. The change is so drastic, it’s made poor Violet Spinrad avoid a sacred pastime for women.
Patricia Woolsey had a sewing get-together, today.
The last sewing bee I attended was at home in Nebraska. All my neighbors gathered and helped me stitch like wildfire to make jackets and clothes for my family’s trip across the Oregon Trail.
They also sewed a Friendship quilt. Each woman made a square with a sentiment. My best friends wrote:
Always in my heart and Prayers. Margaret
Friends through the miles. Ada Powell
Elspeth appliqued a bent tree on her square—she always was a little strange in the head.
Over the lonely miles, that quilt was like having a thread connecting my heart to theirs.
We wrapped Mom in that quilt. Buried her on the trail. The cholera took her so fast we’d hardly said goodbye. There wasn’t time for a proper burying, the wagons had to keep moving. So we wrapped her tight in the quilt she’d sweated and messed and put her in a shallow grave. I watched them pile rocks on top. The wagon leader read from a Bible. The wind kept turning the pages as though it were in a hurry for us to leave this place.
For miles, we’d come upon piles of clothing and quilts lying on either side of the path. Abandoned—if they weren’t buried with the loved one. No emmigrant or Indian would touch them for fear of the cholera and typhoid.
They’ll stay there until they become rags—blown away by a wind erasing the last shred of our passing.
NOTE: More than a half million travelers passed over the Oregon Trail. Each day they traveled 15 miles, and each day they passed 250 graves—totaling 30,000 souls that never reached their intended destination.