Local women featured in new book on quilting

Questers group to hold viewing, book sale and documentary viewing Tuesday, October 17

Hannah Koeller

Enterprise staff

Several local women will be featured in a new book called “South Dakota Quilts and Quilt Makers,” by Dell Rapids native Mary Fitzgerald.

Beverly Wakeman, Marlys Drewes and Mary Ludeman, all of Flandreau, Jeannie Knudson, formerly of Colman, and Connie (Hammer) Fitgerald of rural Dell Rapids all have quilts chosen to be featured in the book, a project Mary Fitzgerald, coordinator of the South Dakota Quilting Project, began years ago to document the pattern, age of fabric and the age of the quilts.

A quilt owned by the late Dolly Jorgensen is also featured in the book.

The Flandreau and Brookings #1189 Coteau Questers will be hosting an event on Tuesday, October 17, at Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Flandreau that will feature a documentary, titled “Patchwork on the Prairie: Quilts of South Dakota,” by South Dakota Public Broadcasting, telling the story of Fitzgerald’s project.

To find out what kinds of quilts women were making years ago, Fitzgerald began visiting museums back in 2011 in places like Watertown, Yankton, Freeman, Vermillion, Chamberlain, Sioux Falls, Dell Rapids and Aberdeen.

After contacting the museums across the state, people in those communities could call and set up appointments with her.

There were 14 area quilt owners who brought theirs to the Moody County Museum a while back for Fitzgerald to view.

The quilts owners first had to register each quilt and answer questions about the history of the quilt, including where and why it was made and where the pattern came from.

Fitzgerald would also ask additional information about the quilt maker, including her interests, education, if she was married, religious affiliations and her work history.

After the questions are answered, Fitzgerald examines the quilt extensively. She has to determine the pattern name and where that source came from.

Over the course of this project, Fitzgerald, who spent several years as an instructor at the Flandreau Indian School, has looked at 1,160 quilts across the state.

The quilts by Wakeman, Drewes and Ludeman will be displayed at the event, along with quilts made by numerous community members and other quilts featured in the book.

“South Dakota Quilts and Quilt Makers” will be available for purchase and book signing by Fitzgerald, who will also do a question and answer session.

A tea tasting will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the program and viewing of the documentary starting at 7 p.m.

Cost to attend is an $8 donation to the group and includes refreshments and door prizes. There will also be a raffle drawing for an autographed copy of the book.

The Coteau Questers is an international group and their mission is to preserve the past for the future, promote education of historical preservation and restoration and to donate funds for the preservation and restoration of artifacts, existing memorials, historical buildings and landmarks.

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