ELKINS – Visitors exploring the downtown Elkins Heritage Quilt Trail now have a few more stops to make as Davis & Elkins College recently added three blocks to the collection. The wooden panels, designed with weather-resistant paint, feature the art and history of Appalachian settlers.
The Elkins Heritage Quilt Trail was initiated by Elkins Main Street in 2016 to celebrate local traditions and add an art element to local streetscapes.
On display at D&E are “Hunter’s Star” at the Gatehouse, “Churn Dash” at Graceland and “Turkey Tracks” at Jennings Randolph Hall. Each panel has a unique history.
Hunter’s Star (green and tan)
Stars are probably the most common motif used on quilts. Homesteaders traveling West used the stars for guidance; and they looked upon stars as religious symbols of their faith in God. For many Native Americans, the star is a sacred symbol, equated with honor. Star quilts were introduced around the mid-to-late 1800s to Native Americans women who began quilting out of necessity.
Churn Dash (turquoise and pink)
The homesteader's life and their daily activities contributed names to many quilt blocks. The churn was a common household item. The Churn Dash pattern has 21 different variations and names. Even the simplest quilt pattern represented a considerable investment of time and energy.
Turkey Tracks (Orange, green and yellow)
The original name “Wandering Foot” led women to believe the man who slept underneath it would wander away. With the name change, the curse was released, along with the women’s fears.
Additional panels of the Elkins Heritage Quilt Trail are on display at various local businesses. Elkins Main Street is in the process of creating a brochure and map of the quilts that includes their locations and the history of each panel.