Monday, November 2, 2009

Family Reunion

My father's German family faithfully had family reunions every August in Lincoln, Illinois, usually coinciding with the weekend of the Logan County Fair. This was a big trip when we were kids. We got to stay at our cousins house, with brave Aunt Betty and Uncle Bill. They had 4 kids and we had 4 kids so it was an nonstop fun for us. We played and read comic books and ate a lot.

Above is a classic family reunion picture from 1961. A little blurry, black and white. Those are my grandparents in front, with their 5 children behind them. Lining up for pictures was a reunion ritual. Each family would line up, cousins would line up, inlaws, outlaws.....

By 1979 someone got a banner! I notice the photo was posed MORE for the banner clarity than the people (Gehlbachs often do not think like photographers). These are cousins lined up.

All these memories were dredged up by this little quilt with Lincoln roots. I've named this little quilt Family Reunion: it measures 46" x 46". The blocks were stitched in the 1960s by Mary "Granny" Laughlin of Lincoln, Illinois and I stitched them together into this quilt in 2000.

Granny gave the blocks to her neighbor, my aunt Betty Purkey Gehlbach. The fabrics came from Betty's home sewing projects, as well of other neighbors like the Rankins. Betty can remember which of these was a shirt for her son Phillip or a dress for daughter Linda.....

Granny pieced simple 9 patch blocks. I set them together in groups of 9 with wild sashing between. Several extra blocks were added to the border.

I purchased the backing fabric at an antique shop in Lincoln. The quilt is tied with several colors of perle cotton. I made it all for myself to use, to wrap up in happy memories of our family reunions.


  1. Oh how beautiful! You are inspiring me to work on my great-grandmother's log cabin tops. It is such a gift to have a piece of their spirit alive in our lives. Karmen

  2. I love the whole story, especially the old family photos!

  3. What a lovely story. The fabrics in your quilt are really precious.

  4. OH, I ~love~ those colors. I'm certainly enjoying your blog. Thank you.~

    Lucy (in IN)

  5. Hello, Deb! This is your cousin, Rosemary, in Hoonah, Alaska. I am a quilter, too, but just learning. I may be intermediate, but anyway, how wonderful to find out you have a new book on one of my favorite activities and including photos of some of my favorite people! Don't have a blog, just e-mail: