church quilt1If you’ve read my blog post, you probably know I have a couple of passions. One of them is gardening, the other is quilts. A few months ago an antique quilt appeared on the wall of our foyer church. Someone discovered the quilt among a relative’s things and brought it to the church to share its history. On the quilt are the names of church and community members who paid to have their names embroidered on the fabric as a fundraiser to help the church build a new building in the current location. They paid 10 cents per name.

Years ago I wrote an article for a local community book about the various churches in the area. The mention of this quilt was one of the things I found in the church archives. Imagine my delight when I discovered this quilt on the church foyer wall.

Among the descriptions included in the church history was that of the 1887 Venice News article that spoke of the oyster supper given at the old church location to raise money for the new building. According to the article, the church was so crowded the news correspondent was “carried up the aisle on springs” by some accommodating lady, unawares to the lady and against the reporter’s will. That supper and auction were apparently the social activity of the season.

Five hundred names are on the quilt, and in some cases it looks like entire families donated to have their name stitched on the quilt. The quilt was auctioned off for $25.25. On December 4, 1887, the church dedicated their new building.

church quilt2

Curious about the auction price of the quilt, I did some digging on the internet. From what I could find out, a workman’s wages were $1.25 to 1.50 a day in 1887. Multiple that by five days and four weeks, that comes to $25 – $30. Which means this quilt sold for nearly a month’s pay. Translate that to today’s minimum wage costs of $7.25 an hour, and that quilt sold for $1240!

I like quilts, but I’d have a lot of trouble buying one for that price. But I sure am glad the faithful Christians in 1887 were willing to part with their money to build my church. Because they opened up their pocketbooks, my church is a thriving part of the kingdom of God. And, that is priceless.


Do you have an old quilt that has a story behind it?