A Quilt Story

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The Story of a Quilt Top
by Virginia Parsons Rahal

Clara Peters' grandmother was Sarah/Sallie Clay, daughter of Mitchell  Clay and Phoebe Belcher.

 In June of 1995, Irene Bailey Tinney gave her niece, Wanema Parsons  Brooks, a quilt top belonging to Clara Peters. She gave it to Wanema because she is the only grandchild of Clara's son,  John Bailey, who was old enough to remember  him. John Patterson Bailey II died before his other grandchildren were born or old enough to remember. Probably because  his mother died when he was a child, he made a great effort to keep with  him items that had been hers.

John-ClaraPetersBailey.jpg (142758 bytes)
John and Clara Peters Bailey

 It isn't known when the quilt top was made by and/or for Clara. Family  tradition dates it to a few years after the Civil War on the occasion of her leaving Pearisburg, Giles Co. VA, to go to Putnam Co. WV, but it more likely dates to some time before the 1856 marriages of Clara and her sister Martha since their maiden names are on the quilt top.

The piece was never quilted perhaps because in 1855, Nancy Bolton Peters, Clara's mother, died as a result of childbirth at 45 years, and there was a newborn baby for the sisters to care for. Both sisters were married the next year and soon had families of their own, and before very long the Civil War had commenced.

  The following names are signed on the quilt:
Mary E. Peters, (Clara's sister)
T. J. Peters, {This may be Clara's uncle, Thaddeus J. Peters.}
Jane Key, (Clara's first cousin)
Clara J. Peters, (Irene Bailey Tinney's grandmother and the subject of these notes)
M. M. Moser, (?)
Martha L. Peters, (Clara's sister)
Sarah A. Snidow, (Sarah A. Snidow, born about 1833, may be the daughter of John S. Snidow and Mahala Lucas.)
Virginia W. Peters, (?)
Sarah Bailey, (May be the daughter of Braxton Bailey and Nancy Oberstreet. She married Alfred Bailey, the brother of Clara's husband John Patterson Bailey. Sarah died before 1860 when Alfred married Elizabeth French.)
Louisa Gordon, (Her brother, Richard Gordon, married Clara's sister Mary after the Civil War in 1866, and Louisa Gordon married James Dennis in 1867. Louisa may have been a young girl when she participated in making the quilt top since her square is not as perfect as the others.
Nancy Smith (?).


Information, research and picture courtesy of three 8th great-granddaughters of John Clay, the immigrant: Helen Wanema Brooks, Virginia "Ginny" Rahal, and especially  Barbara "Bobbie" Watson who recreated the quilt.


Beverly White, Barbara "Bobbie" Watson, Virginia "Ginny" Rahal, and Helen Wanema Brooks 2001

These women, Virginia, Barbara, Beverly and Helen, who were so gracious to alert us to a wonderful family story and allow us to use it in our first edition of the newsletter, want to extend a hearty "Hello" to all the great "cousins" they met at the recent Clay Family . Update: Barbara is recovering nicely from her recent knee surgery.



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