Often called the great corridor of America’s westward expansion, in the nineteenth century the Great Platte River Road carried wagon trains and settlers through Nebraska Territory to points farther west. In jumping-off places such as Omaha and along the Missouri River, settlers from the East Coast as well as immigrants from Europe packed wagons with the essentials for the long journey. And often tucked among the essentials were quilts for bedding, cherished reminders of home and loved ones, stitched with care.
Going West! Quilts and Community presents more than fifty quilts, brought to or made in Nebraska in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Embellished with flowers, stars, wagon wheels, dazzling mosaics, even signatures, the quilts reveal the extraordinary creativity of the individuals who made them. Roderick Kiracofe gives an overview of quiltmaking traditions, while Sandi Fox provides commentaries on individual pieces, using diaries, journal entries, and newspaper accounts to contextualize a quilt’s owner or maker, or the period in which the quilt was created. Together, the essays reveal the hardship and risk overlanders undertook to leave the familiar and forge new communities out West, and the apparent joy and pride quiltmakers brought to this time-honored craft.