In 2011, I had the privilege of making the acquaintance of the American Quilt Study Group. The Study Group had an interest in several quilts belonging to the Historical Society of Moorestown. At the Study Group’s request, these quilts were displayed in an exhibition in Cherry Hill hosted by the American Quilt Study Group Seminar. It was an honor to spend an evening with these folks and to benefit from their knowledge and expertise.
The Hooton/Warrington Family Signature Quilt aka Roberts Family Quilt became an object of intrigue at the exhibition, due to the fact that a number of signatures were not legible. The Study Group members provided several suggestions. Take close up photos of the signatures. The writing would become clear through the photographs. Also, make a grid of the signatures exactly as they appear on the quilt. In this way, the relationships between the signers would become apparent.
As I photographed the signature blocks, I developed the desire to get to know the signers. Many of the names were already familiar to me. I wondered, which names were family members and which were friends.
I devised a chart to list the signer’s name, the content of the signer’s signature, the signer’s dates and where they were from, the family members of the signers and other pertinent information. There were 90 signatures in all. As a result, some very fascinating information surfaced. Even though the Hooton/ Warrington Family were Quakers, not all the signers of the quilt were Quakers. The wedding between Anna Warrington and Joseph Hooton took place in Moorestown, New Jersey on May 25, 1843 but a number of the signers were from other regions. Some blocks date as early as 1841 and others as late as 1844. Men, women, and youths signed the quilt. There were commemorative signatures by grieving mothers for their children who did not survive childhood.
Many of the signers of this quilt read like a Who’s Who of movers and shakers of the time. What a remarkable assemblage of diverse luminaries! Some of the signer’s relationships of note include: The builder of Matlack’s Store at the corner of Main & Chester Avenues in Moorestown, a daughter of the Emlen Brewery business in Philadelphia, the owner of Woodlawn Estate which was part of Mount Vernon purchased from a Custis Descendent, a wife of a silversmith in Lancaster, PA, and also a daughter of a Revolutionary War Captain, the owner of a glassworks in Millville, New Jersey and also administrator for an evening school for colored men in 1832 and the Institution for Poor Quaker Children in 1839, both in Philadelphia, a sister of the original owner of Bethlehem Steel, a teacher of a Quaker School for Seneca Indians in New York State, the woman who established Moorestown Boarding School for Girls, a sister of the founder of Swarthmore College and University of Maryland, an identical signature which can be found on the back of the face of the Peter Stretch clock at the Smith Cadbury Mansion in Moorestown, New Jersey, a wife of a minister of a Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and also head of Young Ladies Seminary in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, a woman Quaker minister, the Editor of “The Friend” Quaker newsletter.
The quilt was made for Anna Warrington and Joseph Hooton to commemorate their marriage. Sadly, they had no children. The question as to how the quilt arrived with the Roberts Family could possibly be answered by this explanation. Elizabeth West Hooton, sister of the groom, married Elisha Roberts. Since Anna and Joseph Hooton had no children, it is likely that the quilt was given to Joseph’s sister Elizabeth West Hooton Roberts family, and the quilt descended through the Roberts Family before it was donated to the Historical Society of Moorestown.