Linda Morgan




Linda Morgan




Linda Morgan


Karolyn Christopher

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics


Sidney, Nebraska


Karen Musgrave


Karolyn Christopher (KC): This is Karolyn Christopher, and I am interviewing Linda Morgan (LM). We are in the Virginia Smith Room at the Sidney Public Library in Sidney, Nebraska. This interview is part of the American Heritage Project "A Heritage Remembered" with the Daughters of the American Revolution. Linda, you have brought one of your ancestor's quilts with you today.

Linda Morgan (LM): Yes, this quilt once belonged to my husband's grandmother Lillie Osborn of Dalton, Nebraska.

KC: I understand this is a Friendship Quilt.

LM: Yes, this is a Friendship Quilt.

KC: When was it constructed?

LM: It was made by members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Dalton, Nebraska in 1928.

KC: You have told me that there is an interesting story about this quilt; could you share it with me?

LM: Yes, this quilt dates back to some of the early history of the Panhandle of Nebraska. Dalton is located in the northern part of Cheyenne County, Nebraska. Very early, I think it was in 1889, there was a country church started in a sod house when everyone came to church in covered wagons.

KC: Is this very early history of Cheyenne County?

LM: Yes, the panhandle of Nebraska was just starting to be settled at this time. Anyway, several years later a frame church was constructed, this was in 1911. The frame church, the Center Methodist Episcopal, was built north and west of the town of Gurley, Nebraska. Services were held in that church for a number of years, and the pastor for this church was yoked with a church in Gurley, Nebraska. For many years the little country church thrived, but as more and more people moved in and near the town of Gurley, they chose to attend church in Gurley.

KC: So, did the country church start to lose membership?

LM: Yes, the church was becoming smaller and smaller, and some of the members who lived west of the church thought it would be a good idea to relocate the church further west where there were people who were wanting to unite with the church.

KC: You mean move the church?

LM: Yes, there were people living further west who thought it would be a good idea to have a church located west of Dalton, Nebraska. Among those people were my husband's grandparents, Ernie and Lillie Osborn. They were already members of the Center Church, but they supported the idea to physically move the church. So, in March of 1924 the building was jacked up and loaded onto wagons pulled by two tractors, Ernie Osborn furnished one of the tractors.

KC: What kind of wagons was the church put on?

LM: The church was loaded onto ordinary farm wagons. There wasn't any house moving equipment in the area. Anyway, they loaded the church onto these wagons and moved it to some land donated by Ernie and Lillie Osborn. (We still own and farm that same ground today.) Since the church was moved in March and most of the men were farmers and could only work on the church in what little spare time they had, they needed a place for the congregation to have some place to meet while the church was being remodeled. Remodeling would take some time.

KC: Where did the people go to church?

LM: Church was held in the house we live in now, which at the time was the home of my husband's grandparents, Ernie and Lillie Osborn. Since the pastor served the church in Gurley and the Center Church, services for the Center Church were held in the late afternoon after he had held services in the town of Gurley. Sunday school was held in the upstairs bedrooms and the preacher would stand out on our big wrap-around front porch and preach to the people who sat in their cars. There was no lawn then, so the people just drove up onto the yard and sat in their cars for the sermon. After the sermon, a meal or at least an ice cream social was held.

KC: This was a lot of work for Mrs. Osborn, wasn't it?

LM: I suppose it was, but I think she liked to have people at her home. It's a big house with lots of room.

KC: How does the quilt fit into this story?

LM: In gratitude for their generosity several years later, the ladies of the church constructed this Friendship Quilt for Lillie.

KC: I see it has signatures of people.

LM: Yes, a Friendship Quilt bears names, sometimes it is the person's actual signature either written in indelible ink or embroidered. In this case, each person who made a block wrote their name and embroidered their name on the block. This is a typical Friendship Quilt in that each block is made from the same pattern. Usually, a Friendship Quilt was made for someone leaving the community, but in this case, it was made as a gift for Lillie's generosity in sharing her home with the congregation of the church while the church was under renovation after it was moved.

KC: I notice one block that is different from the others, it has the name Ruth on it.

LM: Yes, both of Lillie's daughters, Ruth and Loretta made a block. Ruth is my husband's mother, and in 1928 when the quilt was finally completed, she would have been about 12 years old. She put her points on backwards, making her block different from the rest. Ruth told me she was so proud to be asked to construct a block for her mother's special quilt. The rest of the signatures are members of the Center Ladies Aid, or members of the church.

KC: How long have you been in possession of the quilt?

LM: After my mother-in-law, Ruth Osborn Morgan passed away in 2000, the family sold their farmhouse, and members of the family were cleaning out their home and we found the quilt in a closet. I had remembered Ruth showing me the quilt years ago, but I had forgotten about it. Ruth was a keeper of old things, but she never displayed many of them.

KC: So, this quilt was never displayed in your mother-in-law's home?

LM: No, Ruth always kept it carefully wrapped up in the upstairs closet. When the family was dividing up the property, I asked for this quilt.

KC: Can you describe the quilt to those reading this story?

LM: The quilt was made in the traditional style of a Friendship Quilt, in that all the blocks are of the same pattern except for the one Ruth constructed incorrectly. The colors of the squares and triangles in each block are mostly pastel prints some are bold solid colors. The background of each square is a cream color as is the binding. I would assume that the fabric for the colored squares and triangles were probably scraps of material the women had on hand, possibly left over from clothing they had made for either their children or themselves, or maybe it was outgrown clothing. Each name on the quilt is embroidered in a dark blue. I think it is interesting that some women signed their given first and last name, and some women signed their names as Mrs. (husband's last name.) I suppose it was considered proper for a woman to sign her name that way. When we found the quilt when cleaning out my husband's parent's home, there was a note written by Ruth Osborn Morgan attached to the back of the quilt and it says, 'Friendship Quilt made about 1928 by ladies of the Center Community - West of Dalton, Nebraska. Made for Lillie Osborn. Ruth Osborn Morgan, daughter.'

KC: Thank you for sharing the quilt and its great history. Is the church still standing on your property?

LM: No, when the depression came it was difficult for the members to meet expenses and keep the church going and it was disbanded, and the building was sold and torn down in 1936. So, there is no building standing now. All we have is the quilt. Interestingly, I actually knew some of the women whose names are on the quilt. Just this past summer, the last person who made a quilt block passed away.


“Linda Morgan,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 27, 2024,