A simple quilt pieced from the wool shirts and long johns in a housewife’s scrap bag. The backing made from re-purposed flour bags with brand names still visible, Crown Flour, Red and White, and L.H. Fischer, Silverton, Oregon. Donated from the estate of a longtime Willamette Cherry Grower employee, this quilt and its humble origins, simple materials and stitches is a touchstone to local history.
Each artifact considered for acceptance into the collection of the Willamette Heritage Center is submitted to a research and documentation process. Our curator and volunteers carefully research not only the artifact itself but its provenance. The story if you will, that connects it to our local history. With a quilt this entails researching the materials it is constructed from, the method of construction as well as the owners, and if possible the maker. With Quiltopia, Salem’s annual quilt show, coming up at the end of the month and an impending visit from the Oregon Quilt Project ladies, we dug right into the research for this humble quilt hoping to add it to the ambitious list for this year’s quilt documentation workshop.
First came a brief sojourn into the local city directories, census records, and online newspapers from which we gleaned a little information about the owners, Phyllis and Rolland Huffman, the longtime cannery employees. Phyllis was born in Washington state and moved to the Keizer area in 1942. Her husband Rolland was born in Oklahoma and came to Oregon with his family in 1914. They met while working for the Willamette Cherry Growers and were married in 1952. They are buried together in Belcrest Memorial Park. Humble, hard-working folk.