Threads Through Time-Caviness Quilt

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Lillie Mae Lofland Caviness
Caviness Quilt, 1894
Cotton, silk, wool, yarn
On loan from the Historic Arkansas Museum, Little Rock

Lillie Mae Lofland (1875-1902) was the granddaughter of one of the original settlers of Yell County, Judge Joseph L. Gault. On December 2, 1894, she married James Robert Caviness, and made this quilt for him. Lillie Caviness died on April 29, 1902 after the birth of her third child. The Cavinesses lived in Gravelly, Arkansas. Their home is still in the family.

The quilt is composed of 36 squares that create nine black circular patterns on a tan background. There is a different design executed in crewel work, embroidery with yarn instead of thread, on each of the black circles, which is ringed with colored bands. These colored bands are similar to the traditional wagon wheel design from the late 19th and early 20th century. On the top left square, “Dec 16” is embroidered near the circle, representing the month and day the quilt is dated. The top right square has the name “BOB” embroidered within the circle, for Robert Caviness. The square on the left in the middle row contains the year “1894”, indicating the year when the quilt was made, and on the bottom right square, the initials “L.C.” are embroidered representing Lillie Caviness, the quilter. Each square is embroidered with a floral design, with one including a cross. Various insects have also been embroidered throughout the whole quilt.

One of the traditions of quilt making is the passing down of these heirlooms from generation to generation. The Caviness Quilt is no different. It was inherited by Lillie’s daughter, Winnie Lillie Clements, who gave it to her granddaughter, Jeannine Clements as a wedding present in 1973.

The Caviness Quilt is a recent addition the Historic Arkansas Museum, and this exhibition is the first time it is on public view.