My mother kept a large cedar chest full of family heirlooms, including a quilt made by one of her grandmothers. The family is pretty sure that Great-Grandma Maude would have stitched this quilt in the late 1800s or early 1900s. She was born and married in Indiana, where this was apparently a popular quilt pattern. Every stitch appears to have been made by hand.
I turned in Maggie Malone's extensive catalog of quilt patterns called 5,500 Quilt Block Designs, and found dozens of variations on the tree pattern. The one that looks like the exact pattern is #5250, called Tennessee Pine. Malone notes in her book that many quilt patterns were handed down in families and communities, with most not being published until the 1890s. I wish I knew if Maude found her pattern in a newspaper or magazine; or if her own mother introduced her to it.
We previously displayed the quilt on a wall, and I hope to do so again. I realize that I need to preserve the quilt for future generations. Yet, I can't bring myself to leave it tucked away in a cedar chest like my mother and grandmother must have done. I think it's significant for my children to see this rendition of the tree of life now and learn of its connection to them.