Amanda Stegall Allen (1874-1961)
Gift of Will Moreau Goins
McKissick Museum Collection 2013.22.08
Appliquéd tulip block-style quilt similar in design to a circa 1935 tulip pattern published in writer Nancy Cabot’s column in the Chicago Tribune newspaper. The flowers are outlined with black blanket or buttonhole stitches for visual effect. This is one of many different styles of silk and cotton quilts Amanda Allen made during her lifetime.
Amanda Allen’s mother-in-law, Martha Oglesby, taught her how to sew and cook when she lived in rural Westminster, SC in the 1890s. Allen’s granddaughter, Elsie Goins, explains that her family self-identified as mixed people of color because they knew they had Cherokee, as well as Scots-Irish ancestors.
Amanda Stegall Allen (1874-1961), Easley, SC, ca. 1910
Amanda Stegall Allen (1874-1961) 2013.22.08
Amanda Stegall was born in Easley, SC, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. She was the daughter of Kate Ross and Spencer Stegall. When she was born, the area around Easley was still known as Cherokee Territory, where many Cherokee descendants still lived. Growing up, she walked ten miles one-way to attend school.
She married Alexander Allen in 1892 and they had five children: Corry, John, Mary, Wilson, and Felicia. Mary died in infancy. In the early 1900s, Amanda worked as a cook for Captain Marcus Stokes, the commandant of the Corps of Cadets at Clemson College. Her two youngest children played with the Stokes children, who were near the same age. By 1914, Amanda had moved to Asheville, NC. In 1920, their son Wilson died of influenza that was brought back from Europe after World War I. Alexander passed away in 1935.
Like many women of her era, Allen began quilting at an early age. She was passionate about the creative process and her quilts were hand-sewn, usually made with her own custom patterns. She used a variety of fabrics, including wool, cotton, and silk in her functional designs. In addition to traditional quilts, she made appliqué wall hangings and was accomplished in crochet.
Allen often made quilts for family, including her great-grandchildren. Family members recall she always had her hair pulled back in a “soft ball” at the base of her head, wore her rimless glasses pinched on her nose, and often wore an apron around the house and yard.