I never had the privilege of meeting my Great Grandma Holen, although I have seen her handiwork. I know I adored her daughter, and she was a wonderful grandmother to me for the over 30 years that I had the privilege of interacting with her. Marvel Ellen DeLoris Holen Gustafson was her long name for a little lady. My daughter often reminds me of her – one of the many things I love about my little girl. My grandma was the youngest and had many older brothers and only one older sister.
Well, evidently my Great Grandma Holen was a resourceful woman. When you have lots of sons, what do you do with their neckties? Why you quilt with them of course. This must have been a quilt that she did not quite complete because at one point my Grandma gathered with her siblings, and they all finished the project.
Eventually the family quilt was donated to the Phelps County Museum in Southwestern Nebraska. The story of the quilt might have just been family history if not for one group of travelers. The ones who were looking for pioneer quilts and happened to choose the Holen quilt as one of several to feature in a book.
This beautiful hardcover book by Sandi Fox features many family quilts including the one made by my Great Grandmother Holen and her children.
Oh and the book was written to reflect all of the quilts to be on display at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C. for a limited time. Since our family quilt was traveling there, a large group of us decided to go as well. 93 of us to be precise. We had a marvelous time traveling about the D.C. area and then spent several hours looking at all of the display quilts. And taking LOTS of pictures with the family quilt.
Here is my family with the quilt (back in the day of 3 kids)! We all wore “Where’s Waldo” type scarves to designate family members. They were very fun!
I may eventually post more pictures from that trip – one of my favorites ever. We all wore matching scarves and were quite the tourists. While we all are descended from the same family, we now lived in many different places. This trip gave us a chance to connect. The next place the Holens plan to descend upon is the Big Apple. I am hoping that my husband and the kids and I can go. Would be a great adventure with my family that I love!