I was intrigued by the beautiful barn quilts while on a drive to camp recently. Wondering at the story behind them, I researched and learned they commemorate the stories of pioneer women and their families during the War of 1812-1814. There are 100 barn quilts–8′ square murals–on a 65-km route along the Thames River Valley.
Let me tell you what I learned of two barn quilts!
This first barn quilt is known as Homeward Bound.
Quoted from the Longwoods Barn Quilt Trail Blog:
Homeward Bound represents the story of a mother forced to flee Fairfield (Moraviantown) after it was burned. She was able to return to her family home with her infant twins due to the kindness of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. So many innocents found themselves forced to uproot and flee. Some families made it home but many more were cast to futures unknown.
If not for the kindness of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, I know not what would become of me or my poor twin infants. Instead, we have been given money and a wagon to take us home to our family in Amherstburg.
Moraviantown is no more. It had been our home briefly until it was set ablaze by the Americans. The defeat left us again homeless and in a state of terror, rending the air with sobs and lamentations. We were a war-worn group and as I wandered aimlessly with a baby on each hip, I encountered an enemy officer. Unbeknownst to me, he retold my plight to the Commodore and I was shortly provided with money and a wagon to transport us home to Amherstburg, a distance of more than 100 miles.
“May God bless and prosper him. He is the kindest and most generous gentleman in the world and has been an angel of mercy to me and my poor babies. He has not only paid this man to take us home but has given me all this money for these dear little ones.”
We are, at last, homeward bound!
Written by Anne Carruthers, February 2012
(Hosted by Mitton Farms, 14561 Longwoods Road, Thames, Chatham-Kent and painted by Glencoe Rotary.)
The second barn quilt is known as Memories. From the Longwoods Barn Quilt Trail Blog:
Word has reached our farm that the Americans are coming this way. I hide in a thicket a distance from the house in hopes that I am invisible to their keen, hungry eyes. It gives me time to gather my thoughts of times gone by.
Memories of leaving an old country for a new one, across a vast ocean. Memories of departing again, for a beginning in a newer, better country. Memories of working side by side with my husband to clear our very own land. Memories of my first garden with the fragrant scent of lily-of-the-valley but also the cabbages, onions, and squash that kept us over the long winter. Memories of evenings with the family, keeping warm by the blazing hearth. Memories of two tiny graves in a clearing in the woods. Memories of the first whispers of war which we were reluctant to believe. Now they are memories no more, but a cold, cruel reality.
I am disinclined to leave my home and especially, those tiny graves, but if I must, I will rely on my happy memories to sustain me.
By Anne Carruthers, Melbourne. February 2010
What a treat it would be to see all one hundred of the barn quilts!