Generations Of One Quilt
As on a patchwork quilt, pieces and parts of lives come together to form beautiful patterns. Sometimes the essence of quilts, or of lives combined into families, are passed along through multiple generations.
Verdie Markham had been orphaned in childhood and then raised by her mother’s brother, Upton Cover, near Mansfield, Ohio. In her early 20s Verdie moved to Riverside, Calif., where she resided with another uncle, Josiah Cover. He and two more of the Cover brothers had relocated there, bought a grove, and grew beautiful oranges.
In 1884, friends and relatives learned of Verdie’s upcoming marriage to her beau. The newlyweds would then be moving away, so the family came together to craft a colorful patchwork quilt for the young couple. When they married in 1886 and moved to York, Neb., Verdie and Lincoln Wirt Markham, of course, took along that special gift.
Lincoln worked as a bookkeeper for a local feed mill. He and Verdie became parents to their first child, a daughter, while living in York. In 1890, Verdie and her little family moved again, this time permanently to Lamar, Colo., where they homesteaded into the 1930s. And it was there that another daughter (named Verdie after her mother) was born, growing up to become the grandmother of Sarah Judson.
The gift quilt moved with the Markhams to Lamar and transferred from one generation to the next, sustaining some minor fraying along its edges from loving use. But for the most part, it remained pristine. Sarah Judson vividly recalls from her childhood that her Grandma Verdie always kept it stored in a pillowcase when not in use. Judson, who inherited the textile from her mother, Lucille, is now the heirloom’s proud owner.
Judson described that family fabric treasure as sized for a double bed and bordered in dark red velvet. A true patchwork, patterns and colors blend throughout its surface. Gazing at it, one can almost see a group of 1800s farm women working tirelessly to complete it in time for presentation to young Verdie.
Perhaps they never suspected it would become a prized item to be handed down intact for nearly 140 years. Would they be proud that their handiwork outlasted time, moth assaults, sunlight’s fading touch and more? Likely they’d have just smiled and been delighted that the lovely bride appreciated their loving labor.
Total strangers were able to admire the treasured antique quilt on Sept. 17 and 18, 2022, when it was displayed at Buckeye Community Club’s “Stitches Through Time,” held at the historic Buckeye School in Wellington, Colo.
This was the 12th Annual Quilt and Fabric Arts Show for the club. The event serves as a fundraiser to preserve the charming old Buckeye School, which was built in 1925.
RANCH QUILT PATCHES
Carl Judson grew up on his parents’ irrigated farm near Wellington, Colo. The family raised crops and livestock on their 320 acres. Carl’s father, also named Carl, married late in life and homesteaded in the Powder River Basin north of Douglas, Wyo. Well, at least that was his long-term intended plan.
Wife Eleanor, however, came from Philadelphia and didn’t acclimate well to Wyoming rugged ranch life. So, Carl Sr. sold the property in 1945 and bought a farm in Fort Collins, Colo. He took along with him such memories as being an acquaintance of Buffalo Bill Cody, informed Carl Jr.
When the younger Carl Judson graduated from high school, he opted to open up a pottery rather than work strictly on the farm, which he didn’t much enjoy.
“My dad had always chosen to do everything the old-fashioned way, which was hard and seemed unnecessary,” said Judson.
But he used some of his artistic endeavor’s earnings to purchase modern equipment to use on the acreage. Now the farming situation became far more palatable.
Judson father and son ended up with their own 14,000 acres, plus 75,000 leased acres. The Wellington property continued life as a crop farm, while prolific cattle grazed on the hilly Livermore land.
Moving the Judsons’ bovines around on their Phantom Canyon Ranch was no easy task. Some drives were as long as 40-miles from Livermore to the Sand Creek/Boulder Ridge area, younger Carl recalled.
In the 1980s, when he was fully running the ranch, a son and two daughters from his first marriage helped with ranch work; additionally, eight employees/wranglers were needed to accomplish it all.
FRAME THAT QUILT
Carl and Sarah met in 1971 when, in the course of a Colorado State University ceramics class, she toured his Gregory Road Bluebird Pottery business in Fort Collins. (The old property had previously served as a cherry cannery at the corner of Highway. 1). The artistic couple married in 2000 and went into business together.
Now Judson is retired and once again making pottery. Since none of his children chose to pursue ranching, Judson sold the ranch, some of it to The Nature Conservancy.
Husband and wife Carl and Sarah Judson — also a potter — own an art supply business serving plein air artists (outdoor painters). The Laporte, Colo., multi-faceted company is housed in Kinsley Plaza, “Guerrilla Painter” is the wholesale outlet. Also at the same location is the Judsons’ retail art supply business, dba “Judsons Art Outfitters.”
View the Judsons’ websites and/or contact them at http://www.judsonsart.com ; http://www.judson-pottery.com; or on Facebook as Judsons Art Outfitters. You can also reach these businesses by phone at (970) 221-9044.
Verdie Markham’s 1884 gift quilt will eventually change hands to the next generation of Verdie’s descendants. Meanwhile, Carl and Sarah Judson have woven their own lives together, creating another type of “quilt” — this one equally artistic and displaying as many colors, patterns and complex memories.