Threads Through Time-Montpellier Quilt

Click on thumbnails to enlarge images.

Mary Lee Stephens Harris or
Georgia Lee Larkin 
Montpellier Patterned Quilt, 1930s-1940s
Cotton feed sack material, pieced blocks
On loan from the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, Little Rock

Mary Lee Harris (1912-1986) was born in Malvern, Arkansas in 1912. She was the daughter of Georgia Lee Larkin (1897-1973) and Willie Stephens. In 1928, at the age of 15, she married Isaiah Harris. The couple separated shortly after, but they never divorced. Georgia Lee Larkin was born in Louann, Arkansas. At the age of 15, she married Willie Stephens. After Stephens died in 1928, Larkin married Reverend R.Y. Larkin. Harris’s great-grandmother (Larkin’s grandmother), Violet Canady (1840-1912), was born a slave and was the child of slaves.

Patchwork quilts, such as this one, came to North America with the first settlers. They flourished in the 19thcentury by giving pioneer women an economical way to keep their families warm. Patchwork quilts are usually pieced together from scraps of leftover fabric and old clothes. The fabric is cut into geometric pieces and sewn together to make patterns. During the Depression, feed sack, or flour sack material was commonly used to make clothing, household items, and quilts. Due to their popularity as a free source of fabric, feed and flour companies replaced their dull white bags with colorful, printed material.