Library Catalog - Kentucky Historical Society

Object Record

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Object Name Quilt
Common Name Graveyard Quilt
Catalog Number 1959.13
Maker Mitchell, Elizabeth Roseberry
Date 1843
Material(s) Cotton; paper
Dimensions H-85 W-81 inches
Description This quilt is widely known as the graveyard quilt. The quilt is made of cotton fabrics in shades of brown. The pattern features 8 pointed stars alternating with blocks of brown calico. The center depicts a graveyard surrounded by a picket fence with a trellis with climbing roses. It also has angels in the corner and several coffins. The border of the quilt is another picket fence with more coffins. Walnut hull dyes were used for the brown fabrics. Names of several family members are attached to some of the coffins on small strips of paper.
Notes This mourning quilt was made by Elizabeth Roseberry Mitchell with help from her two daughters, Sarah and Elizabeth. The quilt was passed down through the family to Nina Mitchell Biggs who donated it in 1959.

Elizabeth Roseberry [Mitchell] and her family were natives of Pennsylvania. She married Shadrach Mitchell on November 20, 1817 in Green County, Pa. In 1834, the family moved to Antioch, Ohio. They had the first seven of their 11 children with them during the move. In 1836, Elizabeth's young son, John Vanetta, died. At that time Elizabeth started a mourning quilt (different from this one, currently in the collection of the Kentucky Highlands Museum) and put a coffin with John's name on it in the graveyard at the center. The family moved again about 1840 to Lewis County, Ky. Brothers Roseberry and Mathias (called Bub) soon returned to Ohio. In January 1843, Matthias died at age 19; how or why is no longer known. Elizabeth added his name to the quilt that was still only in the quilt-top phase. Batting and backing had not been added and the quilting had not been started. Apparently Elizabeth was dissatisfied with that quilt and started a new one around Matthias' 1843 death. It is this second, finished quilt that is in the Kentucky Historical Society collections. Some fabrics are used in both quilts.

Each paper casket on the periphery bears a relative's name. All of Elizabeth and Shadrach Mitchell's children have a marked casket. The empty coffin space in the lower left corner once held the coffin labeled "Mother," which is now in the graveyard area. Some other family members were added. As each relative died, the year would be added to the tag and moved to the cemetery at the center. First Elizabeth Roseberry Mitchell then her daughters Sarah (Sis) and Elizabeth (Lib) cared for the mourning quilt. After Elizabeth's death in 1867, Sarah continued to alter the quilt until about 1870. Clearly she stopped making alterations before her father's death in 1875 although she lived until 1911. This quilt is an excellent example of nineteenth century mourning customs as well as an illustration of the emotions and experiences that were often expressed by women through their quilts.

Coffins & Names
Top edge, left to right:
P.M. Stallcup Died 1857 (Pleasant M. Stallcup; married to Sarah Mitchell Stallcup
P.D. Stallcup Died 1857 (Pleasant D. Stallcup; infant son of Sarah and Pleasant M. Stallcup;
he died five months after his father)
S. I. Boyd 1867 (Sallie Ireland Boyd; daughter of Elizabeth and Orlin Boyd)
Osker Boyd Died 1856 (Oscar H. Boyd, son of Elizabeth and Orlin Boyd)
Frances Mitchell Died 1870 (actually 1868, Oct. 20th, wife of Roseberry Mitchell)

Right edge, top to bottom:
Libbie Mitchell 18?? (no info found, grandchild of Elizabeth and Shadrach Mitchell? )
Ida C. Mitchell 1863 (daughter of Thomas and George Ann Mitchell, age 4 years, September)
Tommy Mitchell Died 1863 (John Thomas, daughter of Thomas and George Ann Mitchell, age 3 years, October)
Anne E. Mitchell Died 18?? (no additional info found, daughter of Hiram and Annie Mitchell)
Jane E. Mitchell Died 1864 (actually 1868, July 26th, daughter of Hiram and Annie Mitchell)

In graveyard, top to bottom, left to right:
J.V. Mitchell - D 1836 (John Vannatta Mitchell, son of Elizabeth and Shadrach Mitchell)
Bub Mitchell - D 1842 (Mathias Mitchell, son of Elizabeth and Shadrach Mitchell)
E.M. Boyd Died 1867 (Elizabeth Mitchell Boyd; daughter of Elizabeth and Shadrach Mitchell,
maker/owner of quilt)
Mother D - 1857 (Elizabeth Roseberry Mitchell, quilt maker)

Bottom edge, left to right
Marling Mitchell (1917; son of Elizabeth and Shadrach Mitchell)
S. L. Mitchell (1930; Shadrach [Shed] Lindsey Mitchell, son of Elizabeth and Shadrach Mitchell)
S.A. McElroy (1911; Sarah Ann Mitchell Stallcup McElroy, daughter of Elizabeth and Shadrach Mitchell, last maker/owner of the quilt)
Father (1875; Shadrach Mitchell)
Roseberry Mitchell (1903; son of Elizabeth and Shadrach Mitchell)
T.H Mitchell (1906; Thomas Hughes Mitchell, son of Elizabeth and Shadrach Mitchell)
B.F. Mitchell (1928; Benjamin Franklin Mitchell, son of Elizabeth and Shadrach Mitchell)
H.H. Mitchell (1897; Hiram Heaton Mitchell, son of Elizabeth and Shadrach Mitchell)
D.S. Mitchell (1926; David Sellers Mitchell, son of Elizabeth and Shadrach Mitchell)

The Mitchell Family
Elizabeth Roseberry Mitchell (June 24, 1799-January 22, 1857) married
Shadrach Mitchell (February 19, 1797-May 20, 1875)
Their children:
Roseberry Mitchell (1818-1903)
Thomas Hughes Mitchell (1820-1906)
Sarah (Sis) Mitchell [Stallcup] [McElroy] -twin (1823-1911)
Mathias (Bub) Mitchell -twin (1823-1843)
Hiram Heaton Mitchell (1825-1897)
Benjamin Franklin Mitchell (1828-1914)
Elizabeth (Lib) Ann Mitchell [Boyd] (1830-1867)
John Vannatta Mitchell (1834-1836)
David Sellers Mitchell (1836-1926)
Shadrach (Shed) Lindsey Mitchell (1838-1930)
Bazzle Morris Marling Mitchell (1841-1917)

Media Links "Old Days, Old Ways" by Nina Mitchell Boggsis five typed pages giving the history of the Graveyard quilt.
Collection Nina Mitchell Collection
People Mitchell, Elizabeth Roseberry
Subjects Quilting
Memorial works
Mourning customs
Search Terms Mourning
Graveyard Quilt
Lewis County (Ky.)
Physical Holder Kentucky Historical Society - KHS