New Barn Quilts
Recently, the hay barn at Tonganoxie Community Historical Society (TCHS) museum took a new look. Travelers on highway 16 from McLouth can look south as they come to the intersection of 24-40 to see the new look.
Three Barn Quilts now adorn the north wall of the barn. Since 2011, the north face of the barn was decorated with a canvas that celebrated the Kansas Sesquicentennial. Today, the barn celebrates the Glacial Hills Quilt Trail and becomes the centerpiece for the trail.
The designs for the three blocks on the barn were chosen by Jean Pearson, who has taught classes at the Historical Society for four years now. She also created the Glacial Hills Quilt Trail, similar to the Flint Hills Quilt Trail. Both trails can be found on the internet by their names.
The blocks chosen for the TCHS barn have special meaning and symbolism to the historical society. The block on the east is the Farmer’s Daughter. This quilt block first appeared in print in the Kansas City Star on March 16, 1935. The barn on which the barn blocks hang was built in 1932, replacing the very large barn which had been built by Frank Fairchild at the turn of the century. That barn burned in 1928.
The granddaughter of the original dairy farmer came to own this property when it was passed on from her father, Archie Knox and his wife, Bessie, who operated the dairy farm until 1947. In 1985, this barn, the milking parlor, and the silo, were donated to the Tonganoxie Community Historical Society by the farmer’s daughter, Mildred Young.
The centerpiece block is the Sunflower. There are many sunflower quilt patterns – this one best displays the vibrant colors of the sunflower. The wild native sunflower was designated the Kansas State Flower in 1903. It greeted early settlers who traveled westward through Kansas on the many trails that crossed Kansas.
The block on the far west is the Double Aster. Asters were cultivated in the eastern United States since colonial times. Relatives of these cultivated species grew abundantly on the Kansas prairies and were known as wild asters. Like the sunflower, the aster is a member of the Asteraceae family.
The barn blocks were painted by a group of TCHS members – Jean Pearson, Lloyd Pearson, Janet Stuke, Janet Burnett, Kris Roberts, and Brenda Shaw.