Saturday, February 24, 2018

Summer outing in Kalona for our Throckmorton quilt

Jeannette Throckmorton Dean
A legendary quilt from the Lucas County Historical Society collection --- created in 1943 by the late Dr. Jeannette Throckmorton Dean --- was on the move this week, headed for Kalona. It will be part of an exhibit there, at the Kalona Historical Village, opening later this spring and continuing into August. So if you're in that neighborhood during the summer, stop in.

We're grateful to Nancy Roth, village director, who drove down Wednesday to pick the quilt up and who will chauffeur it home during August. If you look carefully here, you'll see hands and feet --- Kay Brown and Kathleen Dittmer were holding the quilt up so that it could have its picture taken before being packed for transport.

Dr. Jeannette, who continues to hold a special place among quilters both state- and nation-wide, created the quilt in 1943 for Marcia Murray Eikenberry, whose name is sewn into it. It came into the society collection as a gift from her son, the late Bill Eikenberry, during 1967.

The artist was born Jan. 26, 1883, at Derby into one of Lucas County's prominent family of physicians. Her parents were Dr. Thomas Morford Throckmorton and Mary Anna (Bentley) Throckmorton. 

A 1900 graduate of Chariton High School, Dr. Jeannette went on to earn a degree from Simpson College in 1904, then enrolled at Keokuk Medical College, completing the four-year course of study there in three and graduating at the top of her class.

She practiced with her father in Chariton until 1919, but deafness had been an issue in her life since childhood and by that year it was beginning to hamper her communication with patients, so she accepted a position with the U.S. Public Health Service as a traveling consultant and educator. In 1928, she married Dr. Charles Noah Dean, a Keokuk Medical College classmate, but he became critically ill within days of their marriage and died 10 days later.

In 1929, Dr. Jeannette became head of the Iowa State Medical Library in Des Moines and remained in that position until shortly before her death on July 24, 1963.

Her quilting companion during the years she was at her creative peak was Frances O. "Aunt Fanny" Crist (1868-1962), who had been taken into the home of Dr. Jeannette's grandparents after she was orphaned and remained a member of the extended Throckmorton family until her death.

Aunt Fanny continued to live for so long as she was able on the John Throckmorton homestead near Derby, which did not have electricity at the time. When daylight hours were at their peak during warm weather, the two women quilted there and shared their mutual passion for wildlife, especially birds. In the winter, Miss Crist moved to Des Moines to live with Dr. Jeannette and they continued to quilt together there.

The quilts Dr. Jeannette is best known for are applique works to original designs featuring extensive trapunto and stuffed work. Because she gave so many quilts away, she lost track of exactly how many she had created, but guessed somewhere in excess of 60. Four of her works are part of the quilt collection at the Art Institute of Chicago --- Goldfinches & Flowers, State Birds & Flowers, Rosebreasted Grosbeak and Iris and Blue Iris.

Fanny Christ died during 1962 and Dr. Jeannette, during July of 1963. Both are buried in the Throckmorton enclave in woodland at the rear of the Derby Cemetery.


Cindy H. said...

How does the museum store the quilts in order to preserve them properly?

Frank D. Myers said...

Frankly, we've not done a good job of this but we're working on it. So this is what we should be doing, and are working toward. First, vintage quilts especially need to rest. So don't leave them on display for years. If you do, protect from sunlight, make sure dust is gently vacuumed or shaken away and refold periodically. In storage, the preferred option is to roll the quilts around archival tissue and encase an inert cloth bag. This requires space, however. The other option is to fold around archival tissue and place in an archival box. A company like Gaylord, which we use, officers boxes and other items designed for the storage of quilts and other textiles.