Hopkins County treasure donated to Historial Society

122-year-old quilt displayed in capitol rotunda during Texas Sesquicentennial

BY PATTI SELLS, News-Telegram Feature Writer

Oct. 20, 2008 - The Historical Society and Heritage Park Museum recently received a treasured piece of Hopkins County history with the donation of a 122-year-old quilt that has traveled the world.

The "Texas" quilt, pieced by Nancy Rebecca Dickson Callan while living south of Black Jack Grove community near Cumby about 1886, was selected by the Texas Sesquicentennial Quilt Association to be on display in the rotunda of the Texas Capitol April 19-21, 1986, and has since been a part of exhibits across the nation and around the world in such countries as Austria and Japan.

"It's a very unique quilt; well traveled-and to think it was made by a little lady from Cumby, Texas," said Rick Wilson, president of the Hopkins County Historical Society. "It's neat. We're very excited to have it."

Wilson explained that the family, living in Oklahoma and elsewhere, wanted the quilt to come home to East Texas. � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � "Since it originated here, this is where they wanted it to end up," he said.

According to R.W. Callan, the great-grandson of Nancy Callan, research revealed that when the Texas Sesquicentennial Quilt Association set out in search of Texas quilts they were warned not to expect much since Texas was a frontier state.

"They were told only states east of the Mississippi produced noteworthy quilts," stated Callan in a letter to the Historical Society. "These people were wrong!"

Callan, who lives in Oklahoma, said Texas proved to be a rich source for quilts. They didn't come from museum collections, but rather from families who carefully treasured and protected these family heirlooms as links to past generations.

During a two-year search more than 3500 quilts were documented across the state, according to Callan. Of those 3500, approximately 350 finalists were chosen including that of his great-grandmothers. Her T E X A S quilt then became one of 62 chosen to be displayed in the quilt exhibit, "Lone Stars: A Legacy of Texas Quilts," in the rotunda of the State Capitol during the state's sesquicentennial celebration.

The historical quilt is 78 inches by 84 inches in red and blue cotton material on a white background to honor the flag of the Republic of Texas.

"The one reverse S is a deliberate mistake because many quiltmakers believed that only God was perfect," explained Callan. "This quiltmaker made this error on the quilt as an act of humilty."

According to Callan, the family quilt was handed down from generation to generation as follows: Nancy Rebecca Callan to her son, W.W. Callan, to grandson, Rush Weaver Callan, to great-granddaughter, Billie Jean Callan (sister of R.W.).

The quilt has been on display at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Tx.; Wichita Falls Museum and Art Center; Tyler Museum of Art; San Jacinto Museum of History, Houston, Tx.; San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts; McAllen International Museum; International Quilt Festival, Houston, Tx.; Quilt Festival Europa, Salzburg, Austria; Opryland Hotel, Nashville, Tenn.; Hall of State Fair Park, Dallas, Tx.; as well as a six-month tour of Japan before coming home to its final resting place in Hopkins County Heritage Park Museum.

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