The Romance of the Circuit Rider's Quilt



Source: Woman’s World Magazine and the winter 1923 issue of Illustrated Needlework

Nimble Needle Treasures Spring 1973 (V-5, N-1)


   Back in the days when ministers were fewer and religious faith stronger, the lean form of the Reverend G.C. Warvel astride his chestnut mare was a welcome silhouette against the winter sky.  And no matter how severe the weather or how difficult the roads, this dauntless man of God came bringing his message of hope and cheer to his country parishioners assembled for worship in their cross-roads churches.

   For not merely to one but to six communities did this good man minister in the course of his hundred-mile circuit in the Miami, Ohio, district.  And until his coming, which occurred only eight times a year at each church, were deferred the marriages and memorial services of the entire countryside.  So sound was his counsel, both on temporal and spiritual matters, and so powerful and constructive an influence did he exert in the lives of the people in this vast territory that even today his name and some interesting stories of his exploits may be found on the pages of Ohio history.

   It was in sincere appreciation of his services that forty of the women of the United Bretheren church at Miami, Ohio, in 1862 presented the Reverend Warvel with this patchwork quilt.  It is immensely interesting, not only because the varied patches represent each woman’s idea of beauty and symmetry but also because of the signatures of the makers with which each block is inscribed, in ink now so faded and blurred as to be almost undecipherable.  The Danby’s, the Patterson’s, the Smith’s the Cleveland’s and many other names prominent in Ohio development all are represented on the patches which make up this humble tribute to the character and deeds of a good man whose services were invaluable to this community.

   The “Circuit Rider’s Quilt” as it is called is now the property of the Chicago Art Institute in their treasured collection of typical examples of early American art and needlecraft.

   Almost any one of the designs may be selected as the motif for a quilt.  They can be used on blocks 11 inches square or larger.


    Mountain Daisy: Twenty 14-inch blocks, 10 appliqued and 10 quilted ones, make a quilt 76 by 90 inches with 10-inch border.

    Colonial Wreath:  A simple leaf design is appliquéd onto 10   15-inch blocks and quilted on the joining blocks.  With the appliquéd nine-inch border, finished size is 78 by 93 inches.

    Sweet Clover:  A graceful design of green leaves and pink buds.  There are 15   12-inch blocks and a nine-inch appliquéd border.  Finished size of the quilt is 78 by 90 inches.

    Rambler Rose:  Twelve 13-inch appliquéd blocks and 12 plain blocks (joined diagonally) are required for a quilt 74 by 95 inches.  Diamond quilting is used on quilt and 10-inch border.

   Cosmos:  The eight-petaled blossoms can be made with four pink and four rose patches pieced together and then appliquéd onto a 13-inch block.  Twelve blocks set together diagonally with 12 quilted blocks make a quilt 72 by 90 inches.

   Spring Glory:  The tulip design always a favorite, is shown in orchid and yellow.  Twelve 14-inch blocks are joined with quilted blocks and six-inch border.  Finished size is 72 by 92 inches.

See Nimble Needle Treasures Magazine, V-5, N-1, and P-11 thru 25 for series patterns #1 thru #14.

V-5, N-2, P-29 thru 36 for series patterns #15 thru #22

V-5, N-3, P-26 thru 36 for series patterns #23 thru #33 

Order  the CD of all 24 issues of Nimble Needle Treasures Magazine for $29.95 ppd. The Interactive Index is included on the CD with the magazines at no extra cost.

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