Sunday Stories: Grace Snyders Quilts Part One

Quilting remains popular today, though most of the intricate needle work is done by machine. Imagine a young woman creating these amazing quilts while watching the milk cows graze in a pasture, or waiting in the truck while her husband fixes a windmill. In the days before we wasted our long evenings sitting placidly in front of a television, this time was used by busy hands to create works of art and provide clothes for families.

Excerpted from the McPherson County: Facts, Families, Fiction; Established in 1890

Mrs. A.B. Snyders Quilts get Firsts in Classes at Women’s International Art Exhibit in New York City
North Platte Telegraph Bulletin, Nov. 20, 1950

From everywhere in America – in fact, all over the world – quilts were entered in the Women’s International Art Exhibit in New York City two weeks ago.

But it was a North Platte quilt that won first place in the international division.

The original pattern, “Covered Wagon States,” was altered by Mrs. A.B. Snyder to represent more accurately not only a personal story, but the history of Midwestern Nebraska.

In the original pattern, the four covered wagon states – Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and South Dakota – and the faces of such western notables as Wild Bill Hickock, Buffalo Bill, Calamity Jane, a covered wagon, a dugout and a smoking gun were depicted in outline stitch.

Mrs. Snyder altered the pattern by appliqueing, in color, the same pictures and adding one. He is “Pinnacle Jake,” astride a galloping horse. “Pinnacle Jake” was A.B. Snyder’s nickname during his working cowboy days in Wyoming.

Since Mrs. Snyder started the quilt, it has been known by her family as “Dad’s Quilt.”

"Dad's Quilt"
A.B. Snyder, it might be added, was as proud of the quilt when it was completed as he was when it won the International Division of the New York Show.

Probably the most famous of Mrs. Snyder’s more than 130 quilts is her Petit Point Flower Basket design. It consists of nearly 86,000 tiny pieces less than half an inch square.

Flower Basket Petit Point Quilt
Copied from a design on a dish, the quilt required 16 months to complete. Mrs. Snyder wrote to the Salem China Co., Salem, Ohio to learn the name opf the pattern designer. She learned he is a German and began a correspondence with him. He since has sent her other original designs and she has received several gifts of sets of dishes and china pieces from the firm. The president of the firm requested a picture of the completed quilt.

On her return trip from the New York Show, Mrs. Snyder stopped in Salem and was conducted on a tour of the plant, seeing dishes made from clay to finished product.

The Petit Point Flower Basket quilt won first in a special class of the New York Show and won the Sweepstakes in the 1944 Nebraska State Fair. Also taking first prize in its class at the International Exhibit was Mrs. Snyder’s mosaic hexagon pattern. This quilt is composed of 50,000 pieces and won the sweepstakes at the North Platte Hobby Show in 1944.

“Covered Wagon Honeymoon”

A native of Missouri, Mrs. Snyder came to Nebraska with her homesteading family in 1885. In 1903 she married A.B. Snyder and they made their honeymoon trip by covered wagon to their own homestead 65 miles north of North Platte.

Mrs. Snyder has cut and sewed quilt pieces since she was old enough to handle scissors and needle. The rigors of a pioneer rancher’s wife failed to interfere with her favorite hobby and pastime, she worked on them while herding cattle.

So avid is her enthusiasm for quilting that she takes materials with her on all vacations and trips.

Mrs. Snyder belongs to the LCQ quilting club in North Platte and exchanges work with other members. But her show quilts are entirely her own work and many are original designs.

Mrs. Snyder loves and finds excitement in the challenge to her ingenuity in creating original designs and in the careful planning and masterful technique required to bring the original idea to colorful fulfillment.

Please read more about Grace Snyder's incredible life and her quilts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln International Quilt Study Center and Museum website. You can also see many of her quilts there.


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