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Writer,Quilt maker,Folkartist, from Freestone County, Tx.

WELCOME TO QUILTS AND STORIES BY SHERRY ANN

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Quilts by Laverne Brackens NEA FOLKART AWARD RECIPIENT 2011



                    


... Following an accident in the early 1980's, she retired from her job and was prevented from further work involving physical strain. As it turned out, quilting provided just the right creative outlet for her boundless energy. Nowadays, she spends all of her free time cutting, piecing and sewing several quilts a month." 

Thus she finally developed an interest in making her own  quilts. 


“The whole time I was on crutches … I was piecing quilts because I could use my left foot [for the sewing machine],” she told an interviewer. “Nothing else I can do. So I just set down and quilt.” 



Working with factory scraps supplied by a friend, she found a creative outlet in quilting. “I don’t go by patterns,” she said. “I made it up out of my head. When you pick up the material and start working with it, that’s when you know what [the quilt] will be.”



Brackens’ art represents a tradition of improvisational quilt making that has been recognized as a unique part of the African American heritage, a counterpart of blues and jazz. Her quilts are distinguished by an off-center centerpiece, rotating printed stripes and both vertical and horizontal striping. “If you piece them all where they hit right together, every quilt you piece is going to look just alike, and if you twist it up a little bit, it’ll make the quilt look different,” she said. “I just like to take a simple quilt and give it a different look. That’s what I be trying to do.” 



The unusually prolific artist enjoys placing letters and numbers in her designs. A granddaughter’s eighth birthday inspired her to create a pattern that employed the number 8 in interesting and creative ways. The letters may have a meaning, as when she used “W” and “H” in a quilt for her father, Willie Henry, but in other instances, words and letters are used simply as graphic elements.



In 1996, Brackens’ work was displayed with that of her mother, her daughter Sherry Byrd and her granddaughter Bara Byrd in “Four Generations of African-American Quilters” at the High Museum in Atlanta. This evolved into the 2006 exhibit and catalog “Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Four Generations of African-American Quilters” at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco. The show coincided with a filmed interview with Brackens by the museum’s exhibition manager, Karin Nelson, and was followed by an article, “One Family’s Quilted Legacy,” in the October 2006 issue of Quilters Newsletter magazine.



Brackens’ art has been recognized in Texas as well, in a 1999 Texas Folklife Resources exhibition, “Quilts of Color: Three Generations of Quilters in an Afro-American Family”; in a 2001-2002 exhibit, “Storytelling: One Stitch at a Time,” at the Texas Memorial Museum of Science and History in Austin; and in a documentary, Family Quilts, broadcast by the television show Texas Country Reporter on October 28, 2006 (show No. 1,000). The Texas Memorial Museum owns two of her quilts, and Chicago’s Bessie Coleman Library features her work, along with that of another African American quilter and NEA heritage fellow, Arbie Williams of Oakland, California.




As of September 23, 2011, Mrs. Brackens became the first quilt maker from the state of Texas to be honored to receive a (NEA) National Endowment for the Arts Folk-art Fellowship Award. This proved to be one of her grandest accomplishments in her eighty-four years of living. Another great honor proved to be the fact that pieces of her patchwork compositions were included in a commissioned shawl that First Lady Michelle Obama presented to the first Lady Kim Yoon-ok, of South Korea, in October 2011, when she and her husband visited the White House on an official visit.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

QUILTS BY Katie Mae Durham Tatum and her Special Loved Ones

                       
                       


KATIE MAE DURHAM-TATUM INTERVIEW by Pat Jasper, director of Texas Folk life Gallery/Austin, Texas, 1999.

"….my parents were Willie Anderson Durham and Ellen Anna Titus-Durham. My mother was the mother of 12 children….4 girls and 7 boys. One child died in childbirth, that made the 12th child….it was a girl.

…..I am the ninth child of the group…My sister Gladys…was the fourth child…born about 1906.
My mother (Ellen Anna) taught me to quilt and my grandmother passed away when I was probably 8 years old more or less, so I didn't get to see a lot of her quilting…(but she quilted)....I know that by going through her home….

…Back in those days, after the people laid by their crops…gathered their crops in the fall of the year, that was the main thing that most women did, was go from house to house and help each other quilt. And they quilted for cover because they didn't have enough money to buy blankets. That was out of the question.
….most of them piece string quilts and then they piece what's called stars and things of that sort… my mother, she quilted along the same lines.

I learned right from my mother…right at home. And she taught me how and it wasn't no time that I picked it up. The Lord just blessed me and I loved it…

I can't say the exact age, but {I learned to quilt} probably around 8 years old because my mother began to teach me early. Cooking and keeping house and sewing and quilting.

{The first quilts I made}…were string quilts…I never tied. Gladys did a lot of tying, my sister…but I cut and I pieced and quilted, that's what I did….

…My mother and the mothers in that day in the communities, when the children were at school… they would go to each other's house and help each other quilt just for a whole day while the children were at school. And then they would always make sure they would be home when the children returned home from school….

I never did go from house to house, but this is what my mother did and the rest of the mothers….I would be at school at that time cause fall and winter were the times that they quilted, you know helping each other.

{The first quilts I made } probably was a string quilt or either a nine-patch quilt… I really started quilting on my own when I was 16 years old. That was after I married. I married young, 15 and a half years. And I was completely on my own…so I had to quilt for cover. Piece and quilt for cover.

I didn't piece any while we lived away from here [Freestone County], only in Austin. I pieced a little bit but not too much… since moving back…I pieced 4 or 5 ,more or less strings quilts. And anytime anybody sees them they will buy them before they will any other.

….I quilted with my sister Gladys and sister Clara when I was living in Denver….I had two quilt tops…We came down here on vacation in 1954…I brought my tops with me, thinking that I would get them quilted… this is [when] they helped me quilt that quilt [Lone Star quilt] to take back to Colorado. But it was so hot we only did one.

PAT JASPER COMMENTS ON KATIE MAE TATUM INTERVIEW…..
"After leaving home and relocating to Denver….[Katie Mae Tatum] dropped quilting as one of her regular pastimes. When Mrs. Tatum and her husband (Henry) returned to Texas, (1977), her sister Gladys, was living just down the road. In an effort to relieve her sister of some of the demand on her time, Mrs. Tatum began accepting some of her quilting work. Soon, she was again quilting daily.

***************************************************************

Katie Mae Durham Tatum,

Liscensed Evangelist, Dynamic, Eloquent Speaker

By Wilbur Thirkield Titus

July 31, 2007

If there were a system of royalty in the United States of America, our hero, 
Mrs. Katie Mae Durham Tatum would certainty be a member - not because of 
ancestry nor notoriety, nor glamour, rather because of her genteel regal 
demeanor, her quiet dignity, sterling character and her sincere devotion to her
God, family, community and country.

Mrs. Tatum doesn’t have a huge television ministry, a huge entourage to 
accompany her on her travels nor reporters to cover her every move. Her house 
is not an ancient castle but it is comfortable. Her car isn’t a Rolls Royce but
it gets her where she wants to go. She has no humble servants, rather she 
serves the community by ministering to their spiritual needs . Her coffers are
kept full by her own efforts. She is known for her beautiful quilt artistry, 
her kindness and generosity. She is an eloquent speaker. Those who know her 
love her.

She is the youngest daughter of Anderson Durham and Ellen Anna Titus Durham and 
grand daughter of Freestone County trailblazers Walter, Sr. and Patsy. Reddick
Titus,

Her early life was spent as a farm girl in the Butler Community, Freestone 
County, Texas. There she attended Pine Top Methodist Church and completed the
courses offered by Owens Chapel School. After her mother’s death. She helped
to care for her younger brothers Walter and Alonzo Durham.

After her marriage to Henry Tatum she continued her religious work in the 
Avant Community, moved to Austin, Texas, and from there, she and her husband 
moved to Austin, TX for several years before moving to Denver, Colorado where 
she held the following positions of leadership and responsibility on the local
and state levels: Sunday School Teacher, Sunday School Superintendent, District
Missionary for 12 years, State Treasurer for the Sunday School Department, and
Secretary of the Metropolitan District.

She has returned to her home in the Butler Community and is a member of the 
Fairfield Church of God In Christ, Number One, where she serves faithfully.


ENJOY!!!!
Sherry Ann
************************************************************





KATIE MAE DURHAM-TATUM INTERVIEW by Pat Jasper, director of Texas Folk life Gallery/Austin, Texas, 1999.
"….my parents were Willie Anderson Durham and Ellen Anna Titus-Durham. My mother was the mother of 12 children….4 girls and 7 boys. One child died in childbirth, that made the 12th child….it was a girl.
…..I am the ninth child of the group…My sister Gladys…was the fourth child…born about 1906.
My mother (Ellen Anna) taught me to quilt and my grandmother passed away when I was probably 8 years old more or less, so I didn't get to see a lot of her quilting…(but she quilted)....I know that by going through her home….
Back in those days, after the people laid by their crops…gathered their crops in the fall of the year, that was the main thing that most women did, was go from house to house and help each other quilt. And they quilted for cover because they didn't have enough money to buy blankets. That was out of the question.
….most of them piece string quilts and then they piece what's called stars and things of that sort… my mother, she quilted along the same lines.
I learned right from my mother…right at home. And she taught me how and it wasn't no time that I picked it up. The Lord just blessed me and I loved it…
I can't say the exact age, but {I learned to quilt} probably around 8 years old because my mother began to teach me early. Cooking and keeping house and sewing and quilting.
{The first quilts I made}…were string quilts…I never tied. Gladys did a lot of tying, my sister…but I cut and I pieced and quilted, that's what I did….
My mother and the mothers in that day in the communities, when the children were at school… they would go to each other's house and help each other quilt just for a whole day while the children were at school. And then they would always make sure they would be home when the children returned home from school….
I never did go from house to house, but this is what my mother did and the rest of the mothers….I would be at school at that time cause fall and winter were the times that they quilted, you know helping each other.
{The first quilts I made } probably was a string quilt or either a nine-patch quilt… I really started quilting on my own when I was 16 years old. That was after I married. I married young, 15 and a half years. And I was completely on my own…so I had to quilt for cover. Piece and quilt for cover.
I didn't piece any while we lived away from here [Freestone County], only in Austin. I pieced a little bit but not too much… since moving back…I pieced 4 or 5 ,more or less strings quilts. And anytime anybody sees them they will buy them before they will any other.
….I quilted with my sister Gladys and sister Clara when I was living in Denver….I had two quilt tops…We came down here on vacation in 1954…I brought my tops with me, thinking that I would get them quilted… this is [when] they helped me quilt that quilt [Lone Star quilt] to take back to Colorado. But it was so hot we only did one.
PAT JASPER COMMENTS ON KATIE MAE TATUM INTERVIEW…..
"After leaving home and relocating to Denver….[Katie Mae Tatum] dropped quilting as one of her regular pastimes. When Mrs. Tatum and her husband (Henry) returned to Texas, (1977), her sister Gladys, was living just down the road. In an effort to relieve her sister of some of the demand on her time, Mrs. Tatum began accepting some of her quilting work. Soon, she was again quilting daily.


KATIE MAE DURHAM-TATUM INTERVIEW by Pat Jasper, director of Texas Folk life Gallery/Austin, Texas, 1999.
"….my parents were Willie Anderson Durham and Ellen Anna Titus-Durham. My mother was the mother of 12 children….4 girls and 7 boys. One child died in childbirth, that made the 12th child….it was a girl.
…..I am the ninth child of the group…My sister Gladys…was the fourth child…born about 1906.
My mother (Ellen Anna) taught me to quilt and my grandmother passed away when I was probably 8 years old more or less, so I didn't get to see a lot of her quilting…(but she quilted)....I know that by going through her home….
Back in those days, after the people laid by their crops…gathered their crops in the fall of the year, that was the main thing that most women did, was go from house to house and help each other quilt. And they quilted for cover because they didn't have enough money to buy blankets. That was out of the question.
….most of them piece string quilts and then they piece what's called stars and things of that sort… my mother, she quilted along the same lines.
I learned right from my mother…right at home. And she taught me how and it wasn't no time that I picked it up. The Lord just blessed me and I loved it…
I can't say the exact age, but {I learned to quilt} probably around 8 years old because my mother began to teach me early. Cooking and keeping house and sewing and quilting.
{The first quilts I made}…were string quilts…I never tied. Gladys did a lot of tying, my sister…but I cut and I pieced and quilted, that's what I did….
My mother and the mothers in that day in the communities, when the children were at school… they would go to each other's house and help each other quilt just for a whole day while the children were at school. And then they would always make sure they would be home when the children returned home from school….
I never did go from house to house, but this is what my mother did and the rest of the mothers….I would be at school at that time cause fall and winter were the times that they quilted, you know helping each other.
{The first quilts I made } probably was a string quilt or either a nine-patch quilt… I really started quilting on my own when I was 16 years old. That was after I married. I married young, 15 and a half years. And I was completely on my own…so I had to quilt for cover. Piece and quilt for cover.
I didn't piece any while we lived away from here [Freestone County], only in Austin. I pieced a little bit but not too much… since moving back…I pieced 4 or 5 ,more or less strings quilts. And anytime anybody sees them they will buy them before they will any other.
….I quilted with my sister Gladys and sister Clara when I was living in Denver….I had two quilt tops…We came down here on vacation in 1954…I brought my tops with me, thinking that I would get them quilted… this is [when] they helped me quilt that quilt [Lone Star quilt] to take back to Colorado. But it was so hot we only did one.
PAT JASPER COMMENTS ON KATIE MAE TATUM INTERVIEW…..

"After leaving home and relocating to Denver….[Katie Mae Tatum] dropped quilting as one of her regular pastimes. When Mrs. Tatum and her husband (Henry) returned to Texas, (1977), her sister Gladys, was living just down the road. In an effort to relieve her sister of some of the demand on her time, Mrs. Tatum began accepting some of her quilting work. Soon, she was again quilting daily.

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle to make the best of all our God Given Resources.





 What makes a great M-provisational quilt? I believe a person has to have a great imagination and a "try this to see what will happen" attitude . Also the employing of miscellaneous materials,left-over scraps, a spontaneity in the piecing and quilting processes, and the love of jazzing and spicing things up. Last of all, sometimes the artist must be brave enough to disregard strict structural rules. 



A lot of my quilt tops have been built as I sat at the sewing machine, or as I am hand sewing. I sew two or more scraps together and, if they strike my fancy ,"just right" I'm soon working feverishly to see what the total outcome will be. Not all my efforts end up as masterpieces. When that happens ,I just cut them up and include them in another project with a different array of tantalizing material. Almost nothing is wasted! 


M-provisational quilts created from leftover clothing and textiles aids me to thrive on Beauty,Creativity,Resourcefulnes and Ingenuity.


 I encourage all,"Don't throw anything out just because it's old". Seek to find an alternative career for the item. If the Universal Sovereign,Jehovah God,programmed the earth and its ecosystems to naturally recycle themselves ,then how much more we humans,whom he gave a higher degree of intellegence ,should apply ourselves to not wasting and squandering Earth's bountiful supplies. "ONE MAN'S TRASH IS ANOTHER MAN'S TREASURES".Remember the art created from Recycled Resources in an m-provisational manner,is a part of our HISTORY& LEGACY . It's a cultural seed that needs watering and cultivating to make it grow in respect in the eyes of the world. 


Our ancestors'motto was ,"Waste Not,Want Not." We of the 21st century do well to adhere to this wise saying and also instill it in future generations.


ENJOY!!!
Sherry Ann

Friday, June 12, 2015

A Tribute to:GLADYS C. DURHAM-HENRYb.July, 1906 – d. April,1996




                   


GLADYS CELIA DURHAM-HENRY …was born in Butler, Texas… into a family of quilters, which included her mother Ellen Anna Titus-Durham,(b.1884-d.1930) ;her grandmother, Patsy Reddick-Manning. She completed schooling that was available to her community (up to the eighth grade) and married her husband Willie Elbert Henry, Sr. in 1924….
Her quilting activity was part and parcel of the activities she undertook to support and nurture her household. In addition to quilting, she sewed clothes for people, crocheted, tatted, and made rag rugs. Like the farm woman she was, she canned fresh vegetables from the kitchen garden she tended herself….
Yet, the legacy of her quilting is especially notable, as all participants in the exhibit "QUILTS OF COLOR: THREE GENERATIONS IN AN AFRO-TEXAN FAMILY" point to her as a central influence…she is even the most direct influence on the quilting career of her grand daughter ,Sherry Byrd.

Pat Jasper, Director
Texas Folk life Resources Gallery , Austin, Texas…1999

****************************************

Gladys is the direct descendant of two very notable slave family lineages located in the Freestone County, Texas area. They are the Tituses and the Durhams.This video recognizes and pays tribute to the six generations of quilt makers which developed in the Titus Family Lineage, on her mother, Ellen Anna's side of the family. 

NOTE: ( There has recently been published a book called The Durhams of Fairfield: An African American Genealogy by Robert L. Uzzel, Ph.D., which features the lineage of the Durhams and her father, Willie Anderson Durham.)

ENJOY!!!!
Sherry Ann

Thursday, May 28, 2015

TRIBUTE TO FREESTONE COUNTY QUILTER AMANDA MARIE SWEET HUNTER TITUS QUILT MAKER AND HER CHILDREN.



.

A.M. (Sweet) Hunter-Titus

 Mrs. A.M. "Sweet" Titus was born Amanda Elmira Hunter on February 6, 1896. Later her name changed to Amanda Marie. One of twins, she is the last of 14 children born to Reverend Eldridge and Mrs. Catherine Abney Hunter. Her twin was Eldridge Emanuel Hunter.
 She possessed a keen intellect, and was a fluent speaker. She was an excellent student who did exceedingly well in Math. She attended Patterson Prairie and Titus Farm Schools of Freestone County, and Prairie View College, Prairie View, TX. She did independent Study and attended many, many religious and secular schools and seminaries.
She married Mr. Governor R. Titus on February 6, 1921. They raised and guided six children: Wilbur Thirkield, Catherine Mary, Cornelius, Joe Pierce, Loreta Yvonne, and Dorothy Earnestine.
 She was a housewife and mother, farm hand, saleslady, seamstress, insurance agent, and retired as Director of Arts and Crafts, AARP Association, Fairfield, TX.
Her interest/hobbies included a love of the Church, of education, reading, televising, growing flower gardens, raising turkeys, raising pigs, sewing and cooking, needle work, quilting, handicraft, attending her meetings, solving word puzzles, playing games, entertaining children, and volunteering her services.
Because of her varied interests, she joined many organizations, but the majority of her energies were spent in church and lodge related activities and causes.
She was a member of Hopewell and Jones Chapel United Methodist Churches. She was also a charter member of Princess Court of the Heroine of Jericho.
 Some of the many offices she held in the church included Sunday School Teacher for more than 68 years, President of Ladies' Aid Society, Epworth League, Woman's Society of Christian Service, Certified Lay Speaker, Delegate to district, annual and general conferences and chairperson of numerous committees and commissions. In Princess Court, she was held most offices on the local level and served as Deputy Grand Matron of District4 A and 4 C.
 She is survived by 5 children, 18 grandchildren, 30 great grandchildren and 2 great, great grands, and many relatives and friends.
**********************
Wilbur T. (Bill) Bonner-Titus ,(Born: February 9,1919 - Died: June 10, 2012) , Eldest child and son
of Sweet,

 Wilbur T. (Bill) Bonner-Titus

There is always at least one person/s in every family lineage who is concerned about researching, recovering and chronicling that family's history and lineage so as to save it for future generations. For the Edward "Ned" Titus family of Freestone County, Texas that person/s would have to be Mr. Wilbur T.(aka Bill) Bonner-Titus, ( and his sister Loreta Titus-Phillips). This post will introduce you  to both of these two most amazing and respected person/s....not only are they admired  in the family, but in the Freestone County Community as a whole. It is with great pleasure that I present to you their story. This article commerates their HARD WORK and PERSERVERANCE in preserving this family's history.....ENJOY!!!!! 

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