Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Ogier family in Guernsey County, Ohio

In 1806, the first party of immigrants, mainly members of the Sarchet family, from Guernsey in the British Channel Islands arrived in the then newly-settled area of North America which later became Guernsey County, Ohio. They were followed, in 1807, by members of another Guernsey family, the Ogiers. A fascinating, and possibly apocryphal, story surrounds the arrival, probably in 1808, of another member of the Ogier family named Thomas. This story has become part of Ogier family lore.

In 1938, Alfred S. Campbell, an American cattle-breeder and journalist, visited Guernsey in the Channel Islands and was entertained by Thomas Ogier at their family home, Les Duvaux, where Mr. Ogier related the story of his ancestor, also called Thomas, who had been forced to leave Guernsey as a wanted man. An account of his visit to the Ogiers, including this story, appears in Campbell’s book, Golden Guernsey, which was published in 1938. This is how the story goes:

At the end of the eighteenth century, the Napoleonic wars were being waged in Europe and Guernsey became a base for allies of the English, including Russians. This caused difficulty and disruption on the island as food became scarce and the poorly-disciplined soldiers took to pillaging and theft. Thomas, an affluent farmer, returning to his home from a hunting expedition, found a Russian soldier on his land and shot at him, intending only to wound him. The soldier made it back to his base but, having identified his attacker, died of his injuries, Thomas Ogier therefore became a wanted man and fled from his home before he could be arrested. He first went to France and later took ship to America and, after some wanderings, joined other family members in Cambridge, Ohio. Relating this story to Alfred Campbell, Mr. Ogier told him that ‘…in all his wanderings Thomas Ogier carried with him one relic of his home – the family cradle!’ One might doubt the practicality of a fugitive from the law choosing to burden himself with a wooden cradle, carrying it to France, then over the Atlantic to America; but the cradle is real enough and is in the possession of the Guernsey County Historical Society!

Enquiries are in train and if I can get a pic of the famous cradle (and permission to use it, of course) I’ll post it here.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

A Maryport Quilt goes National!

A very fine quilt, made in Maryport in Cumbria about 130 years ago, has been accepted into the Collection of the Quilt Museum and Gallery in York. It’s a particularly good example of what is known as the ‘Sawtooth Medallion’ Style, made in red and white fabrics. The red fabric is Turkey red printed in a rich and complex paisley pattern. Only quilts of exceptional interest and condition are accepted into the collection so it is an honour that this one has been accessioned.

The quilt, which belonged to an established Maryport family, was given to me on long loan a few years ago. It is in perfect condition because, as I was told: ‘Grandma always kept it on the best bed, covered with a sheet.’ The owner and I finally decided that it needed to be offered to the Museum and Gallery so that it could be kept and preserved to museum standards. I’m delighted to say that it is now on display at the Museum as part of its current exhibition titled Quilts Then and Now. Full details of the Museum and opening times can be seen here:

A Victorian Surivival

Flat shot of table cover

Embroidery has outlasted silk
This Victorian table cover from a house in Cockermouth , measuring 56" square, was brought to me for advice on repair and conservation.  It has a square centre medallion organised round embroidered rectangles which are enclosed in velvet borders. The rest of the patchwork is 'crazy', i.e. randomly shaped  patches stitched together. Each patch is outlined in feather stitching, a very popular needlework tradition in this type of  crazy patchwork. The whole textile is surrounded with yellow cording, suggesting that its likely use was as a table cover or, possibly, a decorative throw.

 The fabrics are predominantly silks and velvets. The embroidery is of a good standard of workmanship and, in many case, the embroidery has outlasted the silks, which have worn away around them.

Unfortunately, it had deteriorated so far as to make any work on it impossible. On the other hand, it is clearly too interesting to simply be thrown away. One possible option would be to conserve it under glass, in which case it could be viewed but wouldn't suffer any further degradation of the fabrics. This, however, would be an expensive undertaking but enquiries are being made to see if it would be viable.