Prospect community residents documenting quilting heritage
by Jennifer Cohron
Aug 02, 2012 | 1609 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This  embroidered musical quilt was designed by the late Gary Baughns and quilted by his mother, Janelle, for his daughter, Christi Roberts. It is one of the quilts that will be documented this weekend during Prospect Quilting Heritage Days. Photo special to the Eagle
This embroidered musical quilt was designed by the late Gary Baughns and quilted by his mother, Janelle, for his daughter, Christi Roberts. It is one of the quilts that will be documented this weekend during Prospect Quilting Heritage Days. Photo special to the Eagle
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Members of the Prospect community will be gathering this weekend to celebrate their 100-year-old quilting heritage.

Residents are invited to bring hand-stitched quilts of any time period or ones that were machine-made prior to 1970 to Prospect Methodist Church on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The quilts must have been made in the Prospect area and may be in any condition. They will be photographed and the stories associated with them will be recorded.

Participants are also asked to bring a picture of the quilter or quilters if one is available.

All of the information collected will be donated to the Archive of Alabama Folk Culture in Montgomery.

Denise Benshoof, the organizer of Prospect Quilting Heritage Days, said she has been inspired by the excitement the event is generating among local quilters.

“When I was talking about what I wanted to do, one of the women in the group said, ‘You mean we get to see all the quilts?’” Benshoof said. “Her whole face just lit up at the idea of seeing what their mothers and their grandmothers and their friends had made come together again.”

Benshoof, who has a certification in heritage preservation from Georgia State University, began planning Walker County’s first quilt documentation while taking a course in American folk crafts.

She discovered that her great-grandmother, Maude Smith, and her friends helped found a quilting group in Prospect nearly a century ago.

Smith, who served as a rural newspaper correspondent for 60 years, mentioned the group in several of her articles. Proceeds from the sale of their quilts was used to support community projects, such as the construction of a basement in the church so they could quilt there instead of meeting in houses.

The Prospect Quilters are still active in the 21st century.

“They had a little break in the ‘70s and the group was begun again in the mid ‘80s by the daughters of the mothers who had started it,” Benshoof said.

She added that while the quilt documentation is part of her graduate work, she also wanted to provide an opportunity for Prospect residents to gather and reminisce.

“That is such a tremendous gift to be able to visit with people, go over old memories and share these quilts,” Benshoof said.

There is no fee to participate in Prospect Quilting Heritage Days. Quilts will not be appraised, only documented.

All quilts and photos will be immediately returned. Appointments are being made for those who wish to have four or more quilts documented.

For more information, contact Kathy Bozeman at 221-7706.