52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week 5 — At the Library

Week 5 prompt is "At the Library".   I'm going to expand this a bit to say "At the Research Library & Museum".  

A couple of weeks ago while working on my family tree (Ancestry.com) I came across a clue for an ancestor (William Howard Cloe) which had a photo of a quilt attached to it.  The description of the photo said Quilt owned by William Howard Cloe family.  It was buried in a lard can during the Civil War so it would not be destroyed.  According to Peggy Lewis of Oklahoma it is now in a museum in Jefferson City, Missouri.  This was posted by  Marilyn Thompson on 17 Feb 2013.

Quilt made by Mary Cloe circa 1855
Quilt made by Mary Cloe circa 1855

I decided to try to track down the quilt.

I contacted the museum in Jefferson City, Missouri and asked if they had this quilt in their collection.  They said they did not have it but suggested that I contact the Missouri Historical Library and Research Museum in St Louis.  I called there and spoke with a person who took the information about the quilt & family and my contact information and said they would pass it on to the museum curator.  The next day I received an email from Shannon Meyer Senior Curator, Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center.  Her email said:


We have a quilt in the collection, ca. 1855, made by Mary B. Hickey Cloe and donated by William H. Cloe, Jr. and Mrs. Woodson B. McComb. Does this sound like the right people?

I could hardly contain myself!  I emailed her right back saying yes this are my ancestors and this is the quilt I have been looking for.  She then sent me copies of two letter that they have on file about the donation of the quilt to the museum.


In 1968 Mrs. Woodson B. McComb (Frances Cloe McComb) of Fort Worth, Texas wrote to the museum, on behalf of her brother Billy and herself, offering to donate the quilt.  

The quilt was made by Mary B. Hickey Cloe, wife of William H. Cloe, in the year 1855.

Frances included in her letter the following information;

"...to make a long story short the family suffered the ravages of the civil war.  William Cloe was place in prison in Springfield, Missouri, two of their homes were burned and Grandmother Cloe, with their three young sons and a daughter, walked from their home near Carthage, Missouri to Sherman, Texas.  With them they carried  some staples, such as coffee, sugar, etc. and a quilt grandmother had made.  They carried this stuff in a little cart pulled by two calves.  In Texas grandmother and the children were befriended by a Colonel Bradford who helped to care for them until grandfather William was released from prison  and able to join them.

The quilt was passed down to one of the young sons, Billy (William Henry Cloe), who had traveled from Carthage, Missouri to Sherman, Texas, with Mary and  who was the father of Frances Cloe McComb and William H. Cloe."


I wanted to see if I could find additional information about why William was sent to prison and about Mary's journey to Texas.

During the civil war, Missouri was claimed by both the Union and the Confederacy, it had two competing state governments, and sent representatives to both the United States Congress and the Confederate Congress.  And although William never fought against the Union, the Cloe home was at Fidelity, Missouri which was very near Carthage, Missouri which in 1861 was the site of a major battle to try to keep Missouri as a Union state.

Carthage was burnt by local Confederate guerrillas after it had been made the headquarters for Union forces. Not only Carthage was devastated by the war; all of Jasper County suffered. Before the war in the Census of 1860 Jasper County had 6883 residents; after the war in December of 1865 there were only 30 known residents in Jasper County.

I found in the Missouri's Union Provost Marshal Papers for 1861 a statement saying  "Cloe has talked in favor of Confederacy but never belonged to rebel army. A notation in the file says: Cloe will be released upon oath and $1,500 bond, paroled Aug 28, 1862

Also there was a statement in the file that Banister Hickory and Samuel Butler say that William Cloe helps the rebels any way he can, and when Federal troops are in the neighborhood, Cloe sends his boys to warn the secesh (secessionist, a supporter of the Confederacy during the United States Civil War.)

It seems that during the civil war the Cloe home was burned twice and two sons were lost in battles.  It was after the second time their home was burned, and her husband was in a Union prison, that Mary Cloe went to Texas.

Mary was a widow with 3 sons when she married William Cloe in April of 1857.  William himself was  a widower with 10 children from 2 previous wives; Mary Angel m: 1836, Emily Truelove m:1844.  

Mary Cloe with her step-sons Billy & Amos and son Sampson and daughter Mary, walked from Fidelity, Missouri to Sherman, Texas a distance of about 300 miles.  When William was released from prison his health was not good so it was several months before he was able to go to Texas to find his wife & children.

By the 1870 census the Cloe family had gone back north to Bentonville, Arkansas where William & Mary remained for the rest of their lives.


As a quilter myself I hope someday to visit the museum in St. Louis, MO so that I can personally see the quilt that the Cloe family saved from the ravages of the civil war.  Today that quilt is almost 164 years old!


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