History leaves a pattern
Located in downtown Great Bend, the Barton County Courthouse was built on the ruts of the famous Santa Fe trail. In 1906, the Daughters of the American Revolution and the State of Kansas placed a marker on the trail site.
Today, on the sidewalks surrounding the square, now known as Jack Kilby Squre, people will find the Kansas Quilt Walk. Six historic quilt patterns are recreated in stone and inlaid at corners and intersections of the sidewalk.
Quilts kept our ancestors warm and allowed our great-grandmothers to express themselves with beautiful fabrics, fine needlework and meaningful patterns. Great Bend’s Quilt Walk is a tribute to those women and their creations.
The Rocky Road to Kansas pattern is the oldest pattern shown in the quilt walk and dates back to the Santa Fe Trail.
Kansas Dugout pattern
Although the name of this pattern conjures up images of the hardy pioneers living in their homes which were literally dug into hillsides, it is, in fact a fairly recent pattern. It first appeared in the 1930s under this name introduced by Aunt Martha’s Studios in Kansas City, Missouri.
Aunt Martha’s Studios began as the Colonial Pattern Company in the early 1930s. When the pattern company began publishing Workbasket magazine, the patterns were marketed under the Aunt Martha’s name.
A box of quilt patterns at the Barton County Historical Museum south of Great Bend yielded a Kansas Dugout pattern clipped from an unknown newspaper. It was noted that, “The design comes from Miss Gertrude Skeen, Eskridge, Kan.” The dugout pattern was shown as a two-color design.
Although there are no other patterns known by Kansas Dugout, there are several similar designs that vary through use and placement of color.
Though the exact date and origin of this pattern is largely unknown, it appeared in Hearth and Home magazine which was published in Augusta,
Main from 1868 to 1933. This publication asked readers to submit their favorite quilt designs, this being one of them. Whether the sender called the pattern Kansas or whether it was given that name by the editors is purely speculative. Perhaps the person submitting the design was from Kansas, hence the name.
The pattern may have been printed during the 1920s or early 1930s since this was a time when there was a nationwide renewal of interest in quilt making. This design is one of the many star designs and is very similar to one which appeared in a Ladies Art Company catalog called Star of Many Points. The design used here appeared in Quilter’s Newsletter magazine (January 1987) accompanying an article by Barbara Brackman on Kansas quilt patterns.
Farmer’s Daughter pattern
This pattern is an appropriate choice for this agricultural region as many of the families who came west to the heart of Kansas came for land and a chance to earn their living as farmers.
At first glance one might classify this pattern with the many star designs or wonder why the word “star” was omitted in the name.
There are two nearly identical patterns with the name Farmer’s Daughter; their differences lie in the way the colored pieces are used. The design used here appeared in the Ladies Art Company catalog of 1898 and was number 419. (The many quilt patterns presented in these catalogs were assigned numbers rather than names.) The same pattern was introduced by Nancy Cabot in the 1930s with the name Two Crosses. The other Farmer’s Daughter design used the same pieces and was constructed the same, but the way the colors were set differed.
The Kansas Quilt Walk Farmer’s Daughter pattern was introduced by Clara A. Stone, author of “Practical Needlework: Quilt Patterns.” It may have appeared as early as 1910. There were four other names for the basic design. Rolling Stone, Jack’s Blocks, Corner Post and Flying Birds.
Kansas Troubles pattern
Difficult early years of Kansas settlement inspired this pattern choice. Though documented quilts using the design exist from settlement time, it is unknown what quiltmakers may have called the pattern. It wasn’t until 30 years later that the name Kansas Troubles became associated with the design. The earliest publisher of this pattern may have been Farm Journal, founded in 1877. It is not known, however, when the pattern first appeared in print.
The Quilt Walk design of Kansas Troubles appeared in Ladies Art Company catalog in two variations, the differences being in the set of the center square, and the name, the other of which was Irish Puzzle.
There are two other very different designs using the name Kansas Troubles and there are two nearly identical designs with fifteen different names. In addition, the design seen in our local sidewalk is an adaptation of the chosen Kansas Troubles pattern due to technical difficulties in the use of stone as a medium.
Soon after people began to settle down, build homes, and begin their farming and cattle raising operations, windmills could be seen dotting the horizons in every direction. Just as there were many different designs for windmills, the quilt patterns also showed great variety. The exact origins of this particular pattern are unknown. Because of its simplicity, it may well be an early pieced design, one the pioneer women brought with them.
Kansas Star pattern
The seventh quick block, “Kansas,” was removed to make way for the Jack Kilby memorial in front of the courthouse. The block is reportedly in storage until the time when it can be returned to the Quilt Walk.
Somehow the stars seem to be brighter and more numerous when viewed across the wide sweep of the night sky above vast rolling plains. There are probably more star designs than any other type of quilt design except maybe flowers. There are two patterns called Kansas Star, both published in the 1930s.
The one chosen for the Quilt Walk was printed in the Kansas City Star in 1932. It was designed by one of their illustrators, Eveline Foland. It is an illusionary design that fools the eye, sometimes making it difficult to see the star in the center of the block.
Rocky Road to Kansas pattern
Kansas history centers, in part, around roads since well-known historic trails criss-crossed its territorial boundaries. Most important in the development of Great Bend was the Santa Fe Trail, which passed through Great Bend where Jack Kilby Square and the Barton County Courthouse are now located.
Even today swales and “cut outs” in hills mark the passage of hundreds of wagons. The term “Rocky” refers not so much to the actual nature of the road surfaces as to the difficulty in traveling them during the state’s early settlement period.
This pattern as it appears in the sidewalk is an adaptation of a pattern first thought to have appeared in 1889, over 10 years after the Santa Fe Trail was last used. The actual pattern is a string or crazy-pieced design developed, some believe, to use up long narrow strips or strings of fabric left over from other sewing projects.
The Rocky Road to Kansas pattern was chosen as the official logo for the Kansas Quilt Project because of its relevance to the early history of Kansas, although the pattern itself is not of that period. The time of “Rocky Roads” saw many families coming into Kansas bringing, among other things, their quilts many of which survive today.
This piece was moved into storage for the remodel of the band shell and the construction of the splash pad at Jack Kilby Square.
Source: The Barton County Historical Society.