My Sperry Flour Sack Quilt And Juneteenth

The flour sack bag I sewed onto the quilt

There is a sack with a drawstring in my  Sperry Flour Quilt.

I was going to cut off the drawstring and square off the rounded corner, but then I thought of  the book “All That She Carried, The Journey of Ashley’s Sack a Black Family Keepsake.

In the book Tiya Miles traces the origins of a cotton sack that was given to a child by her mother.  Both of them were enslaved in South Carolina in the 1850s.  When Ashely was sold at age nine, her mother gave her the bag to take with her.

In the 1920s Ashley’s Granddaughter Ruth embroidered her family history on the bag.  It read:

My great grandmother Rose
mother of Sahely gave her this sack when
she was sold at age 9 in South Carolina
it held a tattered dress 3 handfuls of 
pecans a braid of Rose’s hair.  Told her
It be filled with my Love always
she never saw her again
Ashley is my grandmother
Ruth Middleton

Miles researches each item that Rose put in the bag for her daughter.  Looking for the reasons why she chose those things to give to her child who, she knew there was a good chance she’d never see again.

And each one of those things tells more than one story about the lives of enslaved people in nineteenth-century America.

Miles writes about how women often passed down linen and embroideries to their family members because they couldn’t own property and it was all they had to leave.

The story of Ashley’s sack is heart-wrenching and beautiful.  If Ruth hadn’t embroidered the words passed down to her, we would not know the powerful story behind that simple cotton sack.

I don’t imagine the flour sack I sewed into my quilt today has a history anything like the one in Mile’s book.

But someone did sew that flour sack into a bag with a drawstring and use it enough so it is faded and worn.

I have no trouble cutting clothes apart to use them in my quilt.  And I’ve used hand-embroidered hankies in so many different ways.  I was glad to give them a new purpose, new life.

And now that little flour sack bag has a new purpose.  But I was able to do it and keep the bag intact.

I wasn’t consciously thinking about Juneteenth when I sewed that sack into my quilt today, but remembering Rose and Ashley’s story feels like it’s a good way for me to commemorate the holiday.

My Sperry Flour Sack Quilt so far

6 thoughts on “My Sperry Flour Sack Quilt And Juneteenth

    1. You were the first to tell me about the book Sharon. You sent me that article in the Times. I’ve learned so much about slavery and how it translates into our time from it.

      1. I forgot, will look up that article again, but now remember I sent it to you. I have overwhelming feeling associated with the story, that I do not forget. Will make an out-of-the-nine-dots statement here: wonder if it is a past lifetime leaking thru.

        Reading a book in a group about the colonies before the American Revolution and how the Quakers were such a voice against slavery.

      2. For me the book was one of those that helped me see the connections between slavery in America and how it still affects African Americans today Sharon.

  1. That is a very emotional story about Rose and Ashley. I couldn’t hold back my tears. I am glad Ruth embroidered the flour sack for memories of her family.

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