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


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Thursday, July 2, 2015

QUILTS BY Katie Mae Durham Tatum and her Special Loved Ones

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.

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.)

Sherry Ann

Thursday, May 28, 2015



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!!!!! 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

KYLA & KOUSINS: Get a "CRASH COURSE" in Cultural History, Art and Legacy_ February 2015


Kyla Steward and Granny  
( Her Maternal Great Grandmother, Laverne Brackens)

My name is, Sherry A. Byrd.  I have been posting on Blogger at QUILT STORIES BY SHERRY ANN now for almost five years, since 2010.  I am always searching to find interesting info to share with my Blog followers and it is not always that easy to come up with topics that I feel would grab their attention.  But this past February 2015 a very wonderful topic presented itself to me unexpectedly.  I have 12 great young developing  personalities ,who call me ,"Momma Byrd" (or grandma).  Each one has unique talents and abilities that  "Daddy Byrd" (or grandpa) and I  get the privilege to watch emerge , like little butterflies, exiting their cacoons.  It is so exciting and intriguing to see them grow and establish that..."HELLO WORLD , THIS IS WHO I AM..."PAY ATTENTION PLEASE"....stage of their lives.

Our oldest daughter, Bara Byrd Steward and her husband Roy Steward, have an only daughter and child, named Kyla Steward..  Kyla's second grade class received the following school assignment for the month of February 2015 ( African American History Month) and was instructed to turn in their report by the end of the month.  Here are their instructions below:

Some examples of famous African Americans the students had a choice
to write about...or they could choose someone else they knew and felt should be in
a history book......

Kyla and her Mom decided to follow instructions to "Be Creative".   They came to "Papa Byrd" and "Momma Byrd"  and asked for ideas about creating a report on Laverne Brackens,  my mother, because in Kyla's eyes,  her Granny was a famous person.  My mother is Kyla's Great Grandmother or, as the grand children refer to her, "GRANNY".  We thought it was a fabulus idea, but told them to get the ok from her teacher, Mrs. Watson, first.   Kyla's teacher (Mrs. Watson  ) gave a Green Light response and said that she would be delighted to hear Kyla's report on her Great Grandmother's achievements and would be very much anticipating it. So we all got to work full speed to help Kyla create a "Fantastic" report.


The name of Kyla's chosen Famous Black American is:   Laverne Arella Henry-Brackens and she was born April, 12, 1927. in Freestone County, Texas in a small community situated between Fairfield, the county seat and Palestine, Tx,  called Butler, Texas. Laverne or Granny 
married, Connie Lee Brackens (b. 1907 d. 1964) in 1945 and is a permanent resident  of and raised her family of eight children in Fairfield, Texas. 

 Her parents were Willie Elbert (W.E.) Henry b.1904-d. 1998 and Gladys Celia Durham- Henry b. 1906-d.1996.  Gladys was a quilt maker from a long line of quilters that stretched back to slavery times.

Gladys was instrumental in teaching Kyla's grandmother, "Momma Byrd" (Sherry Ann Brackens-Byrd b.1951) and her great grand mother "Granny",(Laverne Arella Henry- Brackens b. 1927) how to make quilts the way her mother ( Ellen Anna Titus-Durham b. 1884-d.1929) had taught her to create them.  Meet " Big Mama"  in the photo below:

Please read about "Big Mama" at the post below:

Two of "Big Mamas' beautiful quilts.


"Granny"(Laverne Brackens) has taken the quilt making tradition of her mother "Big Mama" and her Titus family ancestors and raised it to new and exciting heights.   Two of her accomplishments in the quilt making fields that the family is very proud of is the fact that she was asked to assist the  Dosa, Inc Company. of Los Angeles, Ca (Owned by  KRISTINA KIM / DOSA, INC. ), to create  patchwork  for a reversible shawl commissioned by First Lady Michelle Obama to present to the First Lady Kim Yoon-ok of South Korea..  You can read about that project collaboration below:


And her other greatest accomplishment can be reviewed at this post:

The 2011 NEA National Heritage Fellows. Back row, from left to right: NEA ChairmanRocco Landesman; Bulgarian saxophonist Yuri Yunakov; frame drum playerCarlinhos Pandeiro de Ourotaiko drum leader Roy Hirabayashi; ukulele and slack key guitarist Ledward Kaapana; Bo Dollis Jr., son of Mardi Gras Indian Chief Bo Dollis who was unable to attend the ceremony; folklorist Jim Griffith; and NEA Director of Folk and Traditional Arts Barry Bergey. Front row, from left to right: Piedmont blues songster Warner Williams; taiko drum leader PJ Hirabayashi; quilter Laverne Brackens; and Old Regular Baptist Singer Frank Newsome

2011 NEA National Heritage Fellow, Laverne Brackens,  Fairfield, TX ,Quilter


Granny creating a quilt block

Granny Hand quilting.

Granny signing the Guest Register at the Library of Congress

Granny's performance and interview at 2011 NEA Concert Program by Nick Spitzer

A few examples of Grannys' artistic quilts.

Moving on with this intriguing story, as Kyla and her Momma were preparing to use all their available resources at hand, to compile a compelling report to honor her great grand mother, ...low and behold Granny received an invitation to be the guest of honor at the Lenora Rollo Heritage Center Museum in Ft. Worth, Texas on February 12, 2015 during their annual exhibit for African American History Month.
You can read Granny's Invitation below:

 Well, now mother and daughter were then advised that they simply must follow Granny to Ft. Worth, where Kyla can become acquainted first hand with how people feel  and react to Granny, her Culture and her amazing art work ( aka Quilts).  Roy Steward, Kyla's daddy also thinks the trip is worth making and encourages Mom and daughter to go.  Granny is elated that her great grand daughter. Kyla wants to come to experience her art and history on this occasion. Now Kyla's Aunt Miriam, who does substitute teaching at the school where Kyla attends second grade,  offers to drive them to Ft.Worth, for the event.   And since Aunt Miriam's ,daughters Brooklyn and Bridgette attend the same school and are one year older and one year younger than Kyla, they get to make the field trip too,  But wait....we can't leave Rebekah out.  She's Uncle Cephas' oldest daughter and child.  She's only in Kindergarten...but loves to hang out with her older first cousins.  So it's a must go with us, pl-e-a-s-e request, made to Uncle Cephas and Auntie Kristen, who say sure Rebekah can go. YES!!!

Ready , Set, G-o-o-o!  Ft. Worth field trip is now official!!!  Going to learn about and experience African American History and Granny's quilt making history on a grander scale and at its very best; All at the same time.  H00RAY!!!!

Kyla and the Museum's Advertisement Poster for this exhibit,

 (l-r)  Kyla,  Aunt Miriam,Bridgette, Rebekah, and Brooklyn.... checking out art work  in the room where
Granny's quilts are 
displayed at the Lenora Rolla Heritage Center Museum in Ft. Worth.

Granny's quilts on display at the Lenora Rollo Heritage Center Museum
in Ft. Worth, Texas

Granny and her Quilt Display
Yes , the Fort Worth Star Telegram was there to record this lovely event. Please check out
their account at:




Granny seated in the room where her quilts are displayed at the Lenora Rolla Heritage Center
in Fort Worth, Texas on February 12, 2015.

Granny posing with Kyla on the left, Bebekah at her knees, Brooklyn and there's Bridgette leaning against the wall.
They are all first cousins and great grandchildren of this talented artist.

Auntie Leah Byrd on the left  and Kyla's mom, Bara Byrd-Steward on the right in these
two photos.

Great, great Aunt Vernetta Henry (far left) looking on, as every one congratulates Granny!!!
She's Granny's youngest sister.

Granny and her younger sister, Vernetta Henry.

Granny was given an Award Medal ( It is hanging around her neck.)  All had to admire it up close.
Even Granny.......( See photo below).



 Brooklyn, Bridgette and Kyla...

Bridgette and Kyla....closely examining and admiring the art work.

Kyla and her Momma discussing the artwork ?


All kinds of neat old stuff that even Granny may have 
used when growing up.

Interesting Black People.

People dressed in very interesting, colorful and pretty clothing.

Mother and baby...

Girls playing Jacks...

Boys with a Basketball....

Boys shooting Marbles...

Don't know what they're wearing, but it sure is interesting...

Great Aunt Betsey gets a new piece of beautiful
artistic jewelry and a new artist friend who created it.

Young Artists who received Awards for their Artistic Abilities and achievements.



Great, great Aunt Vernetta Henry and Cousin, Stephonia Roberts
checking out the Museum exhibit brochure.

Miriam McAlpine (Kyla's maternal aunt), Betsey Johnson ( Kyla's Great Aunt)
and seated Vernetta Henry ( Kyla's Great, great Aunt, younger sister of Granny).Three
 generations of  Kyla's Aunties in one photo.

Kyla and Auntie Leah cheesing together.....

 Auntie Miriam and Auntie Leah, Kyla and  first cousin,Rebekah.


And of course no event is complete without mentioning the food and other goodies...
You would think the artwork has really fixated the attention of these young art lovers  ...
but  actually, if one zooms in closer one will notice that a wonderful cupcake tower has lured their attention this time. OH WELL... 

 Sorry, the magnetism of free food wins out over art every time...Yummy!!!!  Let's Eat !!!

Kyla enjoying the food....

Bridgette sharing goodies with Momma Miriam...how nice!

The Executive- Director, Ms.Brenda Sanders-Wise,enjoying a cup of punch.

SLEEPY, TIRED AND WEARY...BUT OVERALL IT'S BEEN A MOST REWARDING , ENJOYABLE, AND EDUCATIONAL FIELD TRIP.  KYLA AND HER KOUSINS ARE NOW HOMEWARD BOUND!!!  And Kyla now has tons of interesting info and memories to include in her report about the famous African American ( "Granny" or Laverne Brackens)  that she has chosen to do her report on.  Yeah-h-h-h-h !!!!  Wonderful!!!


What to say, How to say it, How to arrange everything on poster board. So-o-o-o much to do.
Here's Kyla working hard on her homework.....

Almost there.  Just a few more details to include.....Looking good.

Ah-h-h-h....FINISHED FINALLY!!!!

February 26,2015 ,Thursday
Kyla making her presentation to the class. (View Kyla's presentation on the video below.)


Guess what!  Granny surprises Kyla and shows up for her class presentation.
Kyla didn't even have a clue she would be there...but was V-E-R-Y happy she came, because Granny also brought a beautiful quilt for the class to admire. This made her presentation day turn out to be ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.  IT'S SO NICE TO HAVE A GREAT GRANDMA WHO IS SO-O-O K-O-O-O-OL  !!!!

The End

Photo Credits:  

Miriam O. McAlpine, Bara Steward, Star Telegram Newspaper of Ft. Worth, Texas, Daily Mail Newspaper, UK, Teague ISD, Tom Pich, National Heritage Fellow Portraits, Alan Governar, Masters of The Traditional Arts Education Guide, Kristina Kim of  Dosa, Inc., Los Angeles, Ca.,Eli Leon


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