If organizers of Saturday’s display at Horne Creek Living Historical Farm had one message for the public it would be simple: At the turn of the 20th century, things were tough all over.
“A lot of times when you talk to someone about turn of the century farm life in the region, they probably will get a picture in their heads of a man plowing a field with a horse-drawn plow,” said Lisa Turney, site manager for the farm. “They might not think about how hard the women and children worked on the farm.”
Saturday, the farm showcased an exhibit entitled “Common Threads: 150 years of North Carolina Quilts” designed to highlight the craftsmanship of turn of the century women.
“We wanted to focus on women,” Turney said. “So we have displays and exhibits of quilting, spinning, basket making, crocheting, knitting, the list goes on and on.”
The event included a display of 40-45 quilts, many of which were more than a century old and most of which were owned by Horne Creek.
“We have one quilt, which unfortunately we don’t own but fortunately was loaned to us for this event, that dates back to 1840,” the site manger said.
“When they’re not on display they’re well protected in an acid-free box and they’re kept in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment,” Turney said, noting the signs asking visitors to not touch the quilts because the oils in their hands could damage the fragile fabric.
She added that the fabric itself can tell the story of the past.
“During that time period, they often used scraps of used clothing to make their quilts, so you can learn a lot about that time through the fabric,” she said.
As to why she thought it was important to highlight the work of women, Turney said she wanted to clear up a popular misconception.
“I want people to understand that women worked equally as hard as men,” she said, pointing to the farm’s founding family’s matriarch, Charlotte Kreger Hauser, who had 12 children in 25 years while keeping the farm running.
“She worked every day canning, preserving food, making clothes, milking cows, cooking three meals a day for a large family, raising a stairstep of children and doing untold other things,” Turney said. “These women had their hands full.
“I want people to have an appreciation of the work they had to do every day during that time period,” she added.
It seemed to be working.
“My grandchild is into quilting, believe it or not,” said Will Dean Queen, who was visiting the farm with her daughter and grandchild. “I gave her a sewing machine for Christmas and she really took to it so I wanted to bring her out and show her some of these quilts.
“They are beautiful,” she said.
And then she grinned a sly grin.
“But I have a couple that are older,” Queen said.
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.