For a period of about thirty years, beginning in the 1840’s and lasting just beyond the Civil War, the creation of beautiful coverlets became a thriving business for hundreds of weavers throughout Ohio.
Knox County had five or six such weavers, with the best known of them being the Ardner and the Yearous families, who usually signed and dated their work.
The coverlets were made on looms using the Jacquard method, incorporating a system of punched cards to control the warp threads that determined the patterns. Many different patterns were possible using this method with only the corner blocks being “custom-made,” often designed to include the name of the weaver, the date, the county, and sometimes the name of the customer or recipient. The most popular patterns included repeating geometric shapes, stylized flowers or paired birds. The red, blue, green or yellow sections were always made of wool thread, while the white or natural colors were cotton.
Our collection of quilts includes many examples of quilt designs over the past 150 years. Some were made as fund-raisers in the late 1800’s for churches and other groups, including the names of donors or area businesses. Others were made as “friendship quilts,” given as gifts to departing neighbors. We also have several examples of quilts made in recent years by local quilting groups with designs to commemorate historical events and persons of Knox County.
All of our quilts and coverlets have been professionally photographed with additional identifying information for use by researchers, who may make arrangements in advance to study the collection.