Barbara Bone




Barbara Bone




Barbara Bone


Ann Atkinson

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Georgia Bonesteel


Young Harris, Georgia


Ann Atkinson


Note: Barbara Bone is not a member of the DAR. And while this is a DAR quiltmaker documentation project, membership within the DAR is not required.

Ann Atkinson (AA): This is Ann Atkinson. Today's date is January 14, 2008. It is about 3 o'clock and I'm conducting an interview with Barbara Bone in Young Harris, Georgia for Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories for DAR American Heritage Committee. Barbara, tell me about this quilt.

Barbara Bone (BB): This quilt is called the "Towns County Sesquicentennial Quilt" and was made for the Towns County, Georgia, Sesquicentennial Celebration. As you know sesquicentennial means 150 so Towns County has just celebrated its 150th birthday.

AA: Who made the quilt?

BB: The quilt was made by a group of ladies from the Misty Mountain Quilt Guild, Beverly Atkins, Margaret Frizzell, Audie Gay, Pat Meinecke and me. It was machine quilted by another one of the members, Linda Gorman.

AA: Why did you decide to make this quilt?

BB: Our guild has an on-going program with the Towns County Elementary School in which we share quilts and read quilt stories to the students. When the school was asked to participate in the sesquicentennial celebration, they asked our group to work with them on a project. After a number of meetings, our group of ladies and faculty members, it was decided that we would make a quilt to tell the history of Towns County. The quilt would then hang in the school for teachers to use as a teaching tool.

AA: Who came up with the design of the quilt?

BB: Along with the teachers we decided on the events in the history of the county that we wanted to be a part of the quilt. With these ideas in mind, Pat Meinecke, who was Assistant Resident Quilter at the John C Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, N.C., [North Carolina.] began to sketch out a design. We had agreed that not only did we want to show the history of the county but somewhere in the quilt we wanted to show our beautiful Lake Chatuge and the Brasstown range of mountains. We were so excited when Pat showed us her ideas. We took this design to the school, got teacher input as well as the input from Jerry Taylor, Towns County Historian. Jerry helped us in being sure that our facts and dates about the county history were accurate.

AA: Okay, so tell us about this design.

BB: As you can see the center of the quilt is designed to show the beauty of the mountain area encompassing Lake Chatuge and the Brasstown range of mountains, Double Knob and Brasstown Bald, which is the highest peak in Georgia. The opportunities for recreation are depicted as well as the wildlife that still inhabit the area. Surrounding this pictorial timeline of not just the last 150 years but the very beginning of known history about the county. As you can see spilling into the center of the quilt are several important things. In the lower left corner is a seven-pointed star that represents the Cherokee Indians (the seven clans) and on the right is a grist mill which depicts an industry that was well known in the county. Then we have our timeline.

AA: How did you decide on which facts to showcase in the timeline?

BB: Well, first of all, the teachers had the students to brainstorm some ideas, the teachers added ideas, the quilters presented ideas and of course Jerry, our historian, had a part.

AA: So, once you got the center of the quilt and timeline settled on, how did you proceed from that point?

BB: Well, that was the fun part! First, we went shopping as all quilters love to do, to look at possibilities of fabric. Once the fabric was purchased, we started with the center. Pat had already sketched out a design so that was refined and drawn on a large piece of paper. The same design was drawn on a piece of muslin. Then it was a matter of paper piecing. We each took a part, for example Margaret and Audie worked on the lake, Beverly and Pat on the mountains and I worked on the trees. Later Margaret and Audie did a great job on the sky. At some points it got pretty intense, as you know in paper piecing, each piece has an order that it is added to the design. So, we had fun talking about 'my mountains' and 'don't touch my trees yet'! Even though we prepared the center first, we later added embellishments to it.

AA: Okay, so now let's go with the timeline. Who designed all these interesting blocks?

BB: We talked about the blocks, each person saying, 'I would like to do this one and that one,' and we wanted the students in the school to have some ownership, so we got ideas and even drawings from them for the blocks. We decided that the corner blocks would be quilt patterns that were well known to mountain quilters. They include the Brasstown Star, Log Cabin, Drunkard's Path and Wagon Wheel.

AA: So, now all the blocks have a designer?

BB: No, there were a few that no one had an idea for, but in the end, we completed all of them. We just had to rack our brains to come up with that perfect idea.

AA: What techniques were used in making the blocks?

BB: A variety of piecing techniques were used which included paper piecing, traditional piecing, and appliqué. We also used a new technique, that of using actual photographs for a block. We found that this was very timely in a number of instances especially the block that shows the actually picture of the first newspaper published in Towns County, the Towns County Herald. Machine, hand and free design quilting were used. Let me mention something else that we haven't talked about and that is the path that runs through the timeline. Pat felt that this path running through the timeline would tie it together as the history of Towns County unfolded through the years.

AA: Who did the actually quilting?

BB: Another guild member, Linda Gorman, has a long arm quilter and she was the one that did the quilting. Didn't she do a beautiful job of enhancing the design? Notice the clouds in the sky, bushes in the landscape and waves in the lake.

AA: All right, I am ready to hear about the history of Towns County.

BB: Let's start on the lower left side, moving clockwise we see the seven-pointed star which as I have said represented the first known inhabitants of the area, the Cherokee Indians. The next segment is actually on the path, which represents the building of a road, the Unicoi Turnpike and this road is a wagon which depicts the coming of the white man to the area in 1815. Then more white men came because of the gold rush in 1828. This is depicted by an ax and a pan of gold. In 1832, the government had a land lottery to give the white settlers a place to live, and they built log cabins. Our corner block here is Brasstown Star. Now let's move across the top, left to right, in 1838, the Trail of Tears took place, and the removal of the Cherokee Indians began. In 1839, the first church was built in Towns County, Macedonia Baptist Church. Although that building no longer stands, the church itself is a vital part of the community. Then, Towns County was officially begun. Five little communities made up the county, Shady Grove, now Hiawassee, Brasstown, now Young Harris, Gumlog, Hightower and Bell Creek. Towns County was not untouched by the War Between the States in 1861 through 1865 although there were very few slaves if any in the county. In 1886, a Methodist junior college, Young Harris College, was established by a Methodist circuit riding preacher. Our corner block here is a Log Cabin. Moving down the right-hand side of the timeline, another school, Hiawassee Junior College and Academy was established in 1888. Although this school no longer exists, Young Harris College is a well-established school. In 1890 the beautiful trees gave way to the logging industry as there was a need for more and more building material. Next the first newspaper in Towns County was established and is still publishing a weekly paper, The Towns County Herald. After the turn of the century, Towns County was hit by the depression and prohibition in the 1920's and 30's. Men in the mountains turned to making 'moonshine', and boy was it popular! Just has a side note we decided that the quilt square for the corner block at this point had to be Drunkard's Path. Despite the depression years, Towns County did their part in 1931 in helping to build the Appalachian Trail, which runs right through the county. In 1941, Lake Chatuge was built, and electricity came to every mountain home. The Blue Ridge Membership Corporation began to serve the people of the area and continues to do so today. 1953 brought the first hospital in Towns County and in 1980 the Brasstown Bald and Visitors Center was built on Georgia's highest peak. From 1990 to the present is represented with a block that shows the population explosion and the coming of technology to Towns County. The last corner block is the Wagon Wheel. So now we have come full circle or should we say square in the history of this wonderful area!

AA: That's a great history lesson. What do you plan to do with the quilt now?

BB: Well, first of all the quilt was exhibited during the Sesquicentennial celebration last year. Now, our plan is to hang it in the Towns County Elementary School, and it will be used as a teaching tool by the teachers to help the students understand the history of Towns County. We also hope that it will impress upon them the craft of quilting. As we go into the schools to read stories about quilting and work on quilting projects, we find that many of the students have grandmothers, aunts and mothers who are quilters, but we want this beautiful and meaningful form of art to continue to be a vital part of our mountain culture and life.

AA: Thank you, Barbara. I'd like to thank Barbara for allowing me to interview her today as part of the Quilter's S.O.S - Save Our Stories for DAR Heritage Committee, in Towns County, Georgia. Our interview concluded at 3:15, January 14, 2008


“Barbara Bone,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 23, 2024,