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


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JAZZ With A Needle And Thread: The "Inspiration " behind it.

(Please click photos to activate slideshow)

"Jazz With A Needle And Thread" is a reversible Sampler Story quilt
which I composed using patch work created by members of the four 
generations of quilt makers that were uncovered in the research of The 
Edward "Ned" Titus Family Lineage.On this page I have tried to give more 
in dept detail about the patchwork used and the quilt maker who created the 
piece. I hope this satisfies the curiousity bug of those who have always wanted 
to know more about this wonderful reversible story quilt. Enjoy!!!!

Sherry Ann

Sherry Byrd "The Researcher."
Freestone County, Texas is a lively, upbeat

community with lots and lots of Family legacies

and History to share........

Mrs. A.M. "Sweet" Titus was born Amanda Elmira Hunter on February 6, 1896.  
Later her name changed to Amana Marie.  One of twins, she is the last of 14
children born to Reverend Eldridge and Mrs. Catherine Abrey 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 atended Patterson 
Prairie and Titus Farm Schools of Freestone County, and Prairie View College,
Prairie View, Tx.  She did independent sudy and attended many, many religious
and secular schools and seminarys.
 She married Mr. Governor R. Titus on February 6, 1921.  They returned 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,
 Her interest/hobbies included a love of the Church, of education, reading, 
televising, growing flower gardens, raising turkeys, raising piges, sewing and
cooking, needle work, quiting, handicraft, attending her meetings, solving word
puzzles, playing games, entertaining children, and volunteering her serivces.
 Because of her varied interests, she joined many organizations, but the 
majority of her energies were spent in church and lodge related activities and
 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 mos 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.

Katie Mae Durham-Tatum (Born 1917-Died 2011) Katie Mae and her husband, Henry Tatum. 
Katie Mae was the nineth child of Willie Anderson and Ellen Anna Durham. She was taught at the age of eight years old to cook,clean house and make quilts by her mother. This was very fortunate for Katie Mae, as her mother Ellen Anna died four years later when she was twelve years old. She then helped her father to raise her two younger brothers until she married at the age of fifteen to Henry Tatum.After that she was totally on her own when it came to providing covers for her household for the cold winter months. 
Katie Mae loved quilt making  and she and her lifelong best friend Juanita Henry-Durham spent a lifetime  creating quilts together and alone.

Her farm home provided a Christian atmosphere. She remembers vividly her mother's teachings, and the living example that Ellen Titus Durham presented.

She attended Owens Chapel School, Freestone County, Texas, where she completed the 8th grade under the instruction of Mr. M.J. Manning.

During her youth she attended Pine Top Methodist Church, where she was active until she married Henry Tatum on February 19,1933 and moved to the Avant Community. She continued her religious work there and served as a Sunday School teacher.

The Tatum's moved to Austin, Texas, stayed several years and then went to Denver, Colorado, where she was most active in the work of the Lord.

While in Colorado, she held positions of leadership and responsibility on the local and state levels. Some of these positions include Sunday School Teacher, Sunday School Superintendent, District Missionary for 12 years, State Treasurer for the Sunday School Department, and Secretary for the Metropolitan District.

She is a licensed evangelist, a dynamic, eloquent speaker, and works faithfully in her church, Fairfield Church of God In Christ, No.1. She is also a godparent.

Her husband died on April 9, 1986.

Her neice, Earnestine Williams, says as follows: "She is nominated as one of the persons for (Titus family) Who's Who because of her care and love for many, many people that she comes  in contact with. She always greets everyone with a big beautiful smile and a pat on the hand. Her beautiful smile and even tempered disposition sets her aside from the average person and personifies the many attributes that are so magnificantly displayed. ....she is more than WONDERFUL!!!"

She loves God, her family, and people in general.

 Her hobbies include flower gardening, fishing and quilting.


KATIE MAE DURHAM-TATUM INTERVIEW by Pat Jasper, director of Texas Folklife 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 nineth 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. 

"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.

JUANITA LOUISE HENRY-DURHAM - On June 1,1921, a bundle of joy was delivered to Stacia Manning and Ezekiel Henry. They named her Juanita Louise. The bundle of joy grew up to be a good wife and mother, a wonderful person, a good neighbor and citizen, and a servant of God.

Juanita is the second child of seven children born to the marriage of Stacia Manning and Ezekiel Henry.

She grew up in a religious farm environment in the Butler community of Freestone County.Texas. Her life was greatly influenced by her parents.

Juanita says, "My childhood was very interesting….I played basketball and our team won a trophy when I attended Owens Chapel School which had ten grades…..I graduated from Dogan High School in Fairfield, Texas.

I married Alonzo O'neil Durham on December 27,1941 and to this union five children were born……All my sisters and brothers still live in the Butler community where we were born except for one sister who lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I have always been a homemaker…I stayed home to raise my children and filled my days with canning of fresh vegetables and fruits…

I started piecing and quilting at nine years of age. (My sister Merdis also quilts.) I have made lots of quilts and have given each child and grandchild one; Plus some of the great grandchildren……Juanita loves to quilt and it is even reported by her children that their father Lonzo occassionally helped her with the quilt top piecing in the winter time when he sometimes could not get out to the fields to work.

Because of our love for quilting----some of our family was featured in the Fort Worth -Star Telegram on April 13,2002 in an article 'STITCHES IN TIME".

Juanita says that her childhood was very interesting and that she began piecing and quilting at the age of nine. This is still one of her hobbies. She loves to quilt, garden, can and be involved with the church, community activities, such as the Senior citizen volunteers and hold offices in the church.

She has been a member of the Methodist Church since she was 15 years old. She has held the office of Membership secretary since 1976. She served as chairman of the Communion Stewards for 20 years and serves in the Pastor's Parish Relations Committee. 

At the Butler Senior Center she has volunteered for 25+ years. She was named Senior Citizen of the year in 1990 and 2002.

At the Hunter-Titus Family Reunions she holds the title of "BLACK EYED PEA QUEEN",because she supplies her delicious black-eyed peas at the annual event.

Juanita Louise Henry-Durham is the best friend to Katie Mae Tatum and married Katie Mae's younger brother, Alonzo (Lonzo) O'neal Durham. 

Juanita attended  school with her long time sweetheart, Lonzo, at Owens Chapel School and later married him in 1941.She has been a devoted wife and mother for 64 years.

Alonzo O'neal (aka.Lonzo) Durham was born on March 6, 1921 in Freestone County, Texas. He was the 10th of 12 children to Willie Anderson Durham and Ellen Anna Titus-Durham.

 His paternal grandparents were Rance and Alice McDonald-Durham .( Rance was selected as a Republican District  Road Commissioner and County Chairman in Freestone county in 1912.)

Rance owned property near Red Lake that he farmed.The place was called the"Jolly Slute"in former times. He later built a cotton gin and syrup mill on his property to use himself  and for the people of the community. His place became the regular meeting place for the surrounding communities. Rance's history is recorded in the Freestone County History Books, Volume I, Stories # 286-87,page 349. 

Lonzo attended Owens Chapel Public School and  graduated 10th grade in 1936. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Willie Anderson Durham and his grandfather Rance Durham. He became a farmer and rancher for the rest of his life. Because of his constant involvement in community life and affairs, he was often referred to as "The Black Attorney of Butler". He had a keen sense of tracking down things...

Alonzo says: "My childhood was very interesting."

 Most of my brothers and sister stayed in the Fairfield and Butler area to raise their families. Two brothers and one sister went to Denver, Colorado. But Lonzo stayed in and around Butler his entire life.

Lonzo goes on to say " I learned very quickly how to take care of myself and became self sufficent. I planted small truck patches to earn money and thus farming became a passion, where I learned to bargain and sell.

I have farmed and raised cattle my entire life. I raised cattle with A. N. McCallum of Austin, Texas for many years before I took a construction job. I retired from Traylor and Sons Construction in 1984. 

I provided for my wife and children through those means. 

I also raised peaches, peas, corn, tomatoes, okra and other vegetables and fruits. I peddled them from the back of my truck to outlying communities and neighborhoods...It afforded a comfortable living for my family. 

I married Juanita Louise Henry on December 27, 1941 and to this union five children were born. Beauford, Monson, Joyce and twins Earnestine and Ilene.

My passion to help people led me to many communities where I shared information on how to raise cattle, new leases of property throughout the area, etc.

I am a active member of Union United Methodist church and served as a Trustee... also in many other capacities..."

 I have been the chairman for the upkeep and consultant on where families are buried for the Pine Top Cemetery for 30+ years.Lonzo has been the chairman of the Board of the Pine Top Cemetery for more than 25 years and a member of the Owens Chapel/Pine Top Community Council and a Volunteer for the Butler Senior Citizens. He also served the Senior Citizen center where he volunteered to haul off the trash away weekly. 

  (His health failed in 2003 and he had to retire from these duties.) 

Lonzo departed this life on March 4, 2006 in Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, Texas following a length stay in Mya Health Care and Fairview Nursing Homes.

He left behind, Juanita, his wife of 64 years, five children, and one sister, Katie Mae Tatum of Fairfield. He had 12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

Lonzo's maternal grand parents were Walter and Patsie Reddick-Titus.Walter's family had been slaves to the Simeon and Nancy Lake family who came to Freestone County,Tx from South Carolina. Walter's family history is also recorded in the Freestone County History books, Volume II,page 500,Story #870...Titus,Edward "Ned".

Lonzo's mother, Ellen Anna, died at the age of 49 in July 1930, when he was very young. He was raised by his older sister, Katie Mae.

His mother was a homemaker and his father was a farmer who raised tobacco, made home made sorghum syrup and raised sweet potatoes. His father died in 1965. 

Juanita and her sisters learned the art of quilt making from their mother, Stacia Manning-Henry.  
 Her mother(Stacia Manning-Henry) had varied skills ,but was a great homemaker who delighted in quilting and canning fruits and vegetables She was known throughout the community for her cooking.

 Stacia Manning-Henry (Born December 9,1897-Died November 11,1982).Stacia
was born in Oakwood, Texas and attended School in Freestone County.She is the
Mother of Juanita Louise Henry-Durham.
  Her father was an avid farmer and friend to humanity. 
Jaunita's father ,Ezekiel Henry, was born April 8,1892 to Jeff and Delphia Henry. (Delphia was sold as a slave at the age of 8 years and brought to Texas from Alabama.) 

Ezekeil's father,Jeff Henry, died in 1924 and his mother Delphia, died in June 1934. 

Jeff came from Mississippi and settled in Marshall, Texas in the 1800s. 

Ezekiel lived longer than any of his brothers and sisters. He lived to be 84 years young and died on January 4, 1976. 

Ezekiel's siblings were according to age:




Elbert--father of W.E. (Willie Elbert Henry, Sr.) Juanita's 1st cousin, who married Gladys Celia Durham-Henry. (W.E. was an only child.)W.E. and Gladys Henry are the grandparents of Sherry A. Byrd.




Ezekiel--(Juania's Henry-Durham's father.)


Juanita's mother, Stacia Manning-Henry, was the grandaughter of Patsie Reddick Manning (formerly Titus). Stacia, was born to Alf and Sarah Jackson-Simmons-Manning. Stacia, died November 11,1982. Stacia's father Alf (Alfraid) Manning died Frebruary 4, 1934. Her mother, Sarah died June 16, 1942. Stacia lived to be 74 years young and lived six years longer than her husband, Ezekiel Henry.

Stacia's siblings according to age are:


John Wesley



Alfraid (Lutton)




Owen Jake (O.J.)


Stacia's Half Brothers and sisters were:


Sarah Annie

Mary Jane (Babe)

Clara (Doll)



Stacia's children were:
Merdis-- born February 22,1920

Juanita --  born June 1,1921

Tyree--born March 13,1923

Delores--born May28,1926

Alton--born March 10,1929

Wilson--born November 22,1932


GLADYS CELIA DURHAM-HENRY (born 1906-died 1996) …was born in Butler, Texas… into a family of quilters, including her mother Ellen Anna Titus-Durham,(b.1884-d.1930) ;her grandmother, Patsie 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 nuture her household. In addition to quilting, she took in Washing & Ironing for regular customers,  sewed clothes for people, crocheted, tatted, and made rag rugs. Like the farmwoman 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 Folklife Resources Gallery , Austin, Texas…1999 

Gladys C. Durham-Henry created all items displayed


Laverne Brackens and  Mr. Rocco Landesman, NEA Chairman.

Brackens is from a six-generation line of quilt makers and practices a style of improvisational quilt making with a long tradition among African-American women across the South. She works some of her patterns out as she sews; others, she says,come to her in her dreams. Brackens' quilts have been shown in numerous museum exhibits nationwide and this year (2011) she was honored as a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment of the Arts.

Laverne Brackens' oldest daughter.

Sherry was born and raised in Fairfield, Texas, Freestone county in 1951, the centennial year of the town. The place where she was born is not many miles from Ward's Prairie and Brown's Creek, areas in which Edward "Ned" and his family were settled. She is the mother of eight children and her parents are Connie and Laverne (Henry) Brackens. Laverne is the great granddaughter of Patsie (Reddick)Titus and Walter Titus. Laverne's mother, Gladys (Durham) Henry is Patsie's granddaughter.

As a child I was introduced to quilt making via my maternal grandmother. We called her "Big Mama"; her real name was Gladys Celia Durham-Henry ( b.1906-d.1996). Of all the girls in her family...Gladys was the only one who bore children.( Her sisters had none.)

I did not learn to quilt by actually making one of my own when younger, but instead, for the first eighteen years of my life I observed quietly as my grandmother, created beautiful folkart pieces. Occasionally, she commandeered my assistance in tacking (tying strings) when adding a lining to a top to complete one of her amazing creations.

Quilt making at the time I was maturing was on the decline, not only in Texas, but nationwide. No longer was it mandatory for young girls to learn the skill so as to be  prepared to keep their families warm in the wintertime.Yet because of my close association with my grandmother and her strict adherence to, as well as,  love of the traditional skills she had been taught at an early age...she had a strong influence upon me and molded many of my viewpoints in life,on quilting and various other things.

I was always curious about sewing and couldn't resist the wonderful sounds made by my grandmothers' old Singer sewing machine. Nor could I resist the beautiful colorful cloth scraps used in the quilts and the erattic M-provisational designs of the quilts always captivated my attention. Tying strings was boring, but watching a quilt come together was indeed, very fascinating. So to avoid having to tie too many strings, I usually ended up just passing through my grandmother's work area...to take a peek...on my way to do other favorite things, such as sneaking real chicken eggs from the hen house to put in my mud cakes...while "Big Mama" was busy quilting,of course.

I always wanted to make something pretty... just like "Big Mama", but it wasn't going to happen right then...unless of course it was the doll clothes I could make when "Big Mama" gave me cloth scraps and a needle and thread.

May 1969...I graduated from High School. In the Fall I entered Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. I graduated in 1972 with a BA in History (My major) and Art (My minor)....

 1984...brought a dramatic change to my life. My seventh child, a son, was stillborn. To cope with the stress, grief and depression,...I turned to quilt making. I started with small cribsized quilts and gave them away to friends who had recently given birth. When the projects proved successful, I decided to tackle a full sized quilt. I did not even get it completed before Curtis (my husband), declared that this quilt was "his quilt"....so it was named "Dad's quilt". It continues to decorate our bed, every winter, even after approximately 27+ years.

1986....I came across an ad in a supermarket tabloid paper that simply read..."I buy quilts,old and new". I called the phone number listed and made acquaintance with Mr. Eli Leon, a collector and scholar. He was researching African American quilts. This relationship directed my quilt making on a journey that has been and still is a wonderful one. 

Eli bought some tops from me and had them hand quilted by other African American quilt makers who lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. He then curated the exhibit "Who'd A Thought It: Improvisation In African American Quiltmaking.This exhibit was groundbreaking in that it traveled to 30 venues in twenty states and placed the host, Museum of Craft and Folkart, San Francisco, on the map as a major player in the museum world

I introduced Eli to my mother and grandmother. He traveled from California to Texas to purchase quilts and tops from both of them. He also purchased tops from my daughter, Bara. These quilts were exhibited as a group at the  High Museum in Atlanta, GA, in the exhibit "No Two Alike"...1996-97...during the same time that the Olympic Games were taking place there.This was also the same year my grandmother died. How proud she must have been to know that her quilts were being hung in a museum. Never in all their days had she or her sisters dared even to dream of such a thing taking place in their lifetimes.

The success of these exhibits stirred in me the desire to know why so many people were becoming so interested in throw together quilts. So I launched my own research into the topic. It led me to the discovery of a wonderful and fantastic family legacy of quilt making.

During the research period wonderful and amazing events began to unfold which added to the richness of the experience. In 1997, British Airways commissioned fifty ethnic artworks from around the world to have painted and displayed as liveries on 300+ Boeing jet tail fins. They wanted to create a new image for themselves. My M-provisational abstract quilt.."Champaigne" was chosen as one of those artworks. It became a part of British Airways "SkyHigh Gallery".

Next in 1998, Texas Folklife Resources Gallery director, Pat Jasper, contacted my mother, Laverne Brackens and me. She curated the exhibit "Quilts of Color:Three Generations in an Afro-Texan Family." This exhibit included quilts made  by Gladys Henry, Katie Mae Tatum, Laverne Brackens and Sherry A. Byrd.It included percision made, as well as 
M-provisational abstract quilts. The Titus family speaks two quilt making languages fluently.

There were four apprentices who made quilts for the exhibits' workshop. They were Sarah Byrd, Cephas Byrd, Nikki Brackens and Tysha Brackens. They are hopefully a part of the sixth generation of upcoming quilt makers that is formulating in the Titus family at present.

Quilts of Color Workshop
Summer 1999
Texas Folklife Gallery_ Austin ,Texas

At the "Quilts of Color" workshop, September 18,1999, I presented for the first time, the story quilt "Homegrown/Handmade/Passed-On Family quilt or just "Homegrown". This reversible story quilt was composed as a result of the research that I had compiled previously. I worked on it progressively for close to three years and it was not complete when shown at the workshop.It is created totally and completely from recyled materials.

Homegrown chronicles the history and background of the Titus Family, basically from Africa thru the year 2000. 

Sherry Byrd explaining "HOMEGROWN" Story Quilt
at the Quilts of Color Exhibit Workshop

The crowd loved it...even though it was nowhere near complete. The quilt had such a great impact that, Suzanne Seriff, a guest curator attending the workshop for the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum (which by the way was also not complete at that time)... invited me to exhibit the story quilt at the inaugural opening of the  temporary exhibit "It Ain't Braggin' If It's True". By the time the two years wait was up, I had managed to bring the story quilt to a relative completion.

The crowds loved it once again, as the following quotes reveal:

July 2,200l
"....I cannot tell you how much the visitors to the museum have raved over your quilt. So many stop, and look and study it, and try to read the script and tease the stories out of the images! It is really something else!"
Suzanne Seriff, Guest Curator

"It Ain't Braggin' If It's True"
Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
Austin, Texas

December 2001

Dear Mrs. Byrd
"......The exhibit has been a great success...thanks to lenders such as yourself for sharing artifacts with a wider audience...."

January, 2002

"..........We are pleased to have had your wonderful quilt in our exhibit. "It Ain't Braggin' If It's True"....thank you for your participation in our exhibit. Over 500,000 visitors have come to see the museum since we opened last April..."

Meredith Sutton
Museum Registrar
Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
Austin, Texas

The greatest honor resulting from the Bob Bullock Museum experience was the fact that President George W. Bush, First Lady, Laura Bush, Mrs. Jan Bullock, governor Rick Perry and wife, former Texas governors, Preston Smith, Dolph Briscoe, and Bill Clements, along with a crowd of 500 Texas state government officials and their family members...were among the over 500,000+ visitors who had the opportunity to view "Homegrown" at the inaugural opening of the state museum. African American "Throw Together m-provisational quilts had indeed come a long way in the history making process... from covering slave beds to works of Art on museum walls!!!! It was truly amazing and a wonder to behold.

Meanwhile, I had been working on a second story quilt project for about 20 years... at least since 1986. I was collecting patchwork blocks from individual family quilt makers to create a reversible sampler and story quilt to commemorate the legacy of sewing skills in our family. The tradition of quilt making had been around so long and the passing down of the skills from generation to generation needed...as far as, I was concerned ,some kind of recognition. This story quilt became "Jazz With A Needle And Thread" or just "Jazz". It was featured at the five year anniversary of the Texas State History Musem in 2006 in the exhibit "It (Still) Ain't Braggin'"."Jazz" captivated and dazzled an audience of 30 children and 40 adults on July 26, 2006 at a "High Noon Talk". The "Tell and Show" Lecture was declared the best of the series of High Noon talks that had been given at the museum that summer.

Jazz With A Needle and Thread is the Central Topic of this Blog post which will expound further on the intimate details of how and why this wonderful reversible story quilt came into existence. Its main purpose was to create a platform in which to remember and honor the six generations of quilt makers within the Titus family of Freestone county, Texas.


Oldest daughter of Sherry A. Byrd.

Second oldest daughter of Sherry A. Byrd.

Third and fourth daughters of Sherry A. Byrd.

Youngest of five daughters of Sherry A. Byrd.

Daughter-in-law of Sherry A. Byrd.

Youngest son of Sherry A. Byrd.

Second oldest daughter of Laverne Brackens
Lillie Elizabeth Brackens-Mayes was born in 1953. She is the second oldest daughter of Connie and Laverne Brackens.She was born and raised in Fairfield,Texas,Freestone County and still resides on the old homeplace where she grew up. She is a widow with a grown son and daughter plus six grand children.

Lillie is full of religious fervor and zeal. She loves to teach Sunday School and volunteer for church activities. She is a Certified Registered Nurse  and Medical Consultant.

Lillie learned the art of quilt making from observing her mother Laverne and her grandmother,Gladys Henry...but quickly developed her own unique style of creating her folk art compositions. Lillie loves to create patchwork that is composed of lattice work weavings. She can create traditional style quilts, but prefers 'LATTICE WORKS' to all other styles. 

She also creates various other crafts that incorporate the lattice works designs...such as napkin holders,small wall hangings,place mats ,and table runners.

Lillie likes to garden,... which love, she inherited from her grandmother,Gladys Celia Durham-Henry who always had a Spring vegetable garden from which she did canning and preserving of food to supplement the family's diet. Lillie enjoys  working the soil by planting various fruits and veggies and watching them grow and produce. She enjoys Spring and the growing seasons best because they allow her to be outside to enjoy nature and wreaks less havoc on her arthritis.

Laverne Brackens' third and youngest daughter.

Betsey Evelyn Brackens-Johnson...Born in 1955.Betsey is  youngest daughter of Connie and Laverne Brackens. She was born and raised in Fairfield,Texas...Freestone County. Bessie still calls Fairfield, where she was born and raised, "HOME".

Betsey is adventurious, mischievous,friendly,hilarious,empathetic,loving ,kind ,and generous.She is a person who will give you the shirt off her back...but you don't want to be on the receiving end of her anger if caught trying to misuse her kindness for a weakness. Most everyone loves Betsey and she is a ray of sunshine that lights up the environment of those who know her well...even when her own personal problems of juggling single parenthood and medical needs for herself and her mentally challenged daughter tend to weight her down.She always tries to maintain a positive mental attitude in all situations.Her smile is always contagious!!!

She is a widower and mother of two sons and one daughter . She has five grandchildren.

Betsey is a woman that has worn many hats in her adult career. She has worked in restaurants,at nursing homes and homes for the mentally challenged as an aide,she traveled the world with moving companies...but presently assists her brother Roland with his construction business as a supervisor for his work crew. She loves all kinds of outside work from plumbing to driving big trucks and other heavy machinery.

Though not a dedicated quilt maker...she has tried her hand at the craft and as with everything she sets her mind to do...has done very well.She learned to make quilts by watching her mother, Laverne Brackens.

Betsey's choice of quilt making patterns and materials is the quick and easy process....referred to by most as the "Lazy Gal" style and/or "Britches Quilt'. She loves incorporating old jeans into the quilt making that she produces. I wonder if it has to do with the fact that she herself wears jeans almost daily as she works!!!

Daughter-in-law of Laverne Brackens.

Eleanore Herrera-Brackens was born in AGAT, Guam in 1960. She is the daughter of Joaquina San Nicolas Babauta and Jesus Santos Herrera. She is a very loving,kind,friendly, loyal,unassuming person. She adapts well to the most trying situations and circumstances, thus making the best of whatever life serves on her plate.

Eleanore married Roy Lee Brackens, the youngest son of Connie and Laverne Brackens. They are now divorced, but she is still considered as a true family member,stays in close contact with the family members and all are very protective of her...because she treats all with respect and deserves the same in return.Though born and raised in Guam,...she married into the African American culture and has adapted quite well to our family. We love her dearly.No one could ask for a sweeter sister-in-law and she is indeed a blessing to the Brackens family.There are very few like her in this turbulent world,today.

Eleanore is the mother of six children. One son by a previous marriage and three sons and two daughters by Roy Brackens. She is a loving and dedicated mother to all her children. She has one beloved grandson at the time of this posting.

Eleanore has done varied secular jobs outside the home environment.She is a cook,has delivered the mail as a rural carrier,she has been a courier for a private business,and also worked in the school cafeteria in the Fairfield ISD.She presently works for the Mexia State School.

Eleanore learned the skill of quilt making under the tutoring of Laverne Brackens, her mother-in-law. She loves to crochet...a skill she learned in Guam,she cooks,especially the tasty spicey native dishes of Guam(Her spaghetti recipe is so mouthwatering and delicious.)  She loves to play games on facebook...as well as network with her older children who have moved away from home.


Close Up Details of Side I.

Every thing on this side of Jazz with a 
Needle and thread were created by Gladys C.
Durham-Henry. Born 1906-Died 1996.

Much of Gladys' crochet items, two of her handmade hats and

 one of her Sunday suits which she created became blocks

 in this quilt so as to be preserved along with her patchwork.

The white blocks on this side of  "Jazz With A Needle
And Thread" hold chronicles of the history of the first two 
generations of quilt makers in our lineage because no physical
quilts are blocks were uncovered in the research process which 
could be applied to this story 

Scottie dog quilt which adorned the bed

of my grandfather W.E.(Willie Elbert) Henry

until his death. It was created by my grandmother

Gladys C. Durham-Henry.

Details of Side II

Half of a Lone Star hand stitched by
Sarah  E.Byrd in 1999. Born 1982.
M-provisational one patch work blocks created by Sarah
Byrd. Born 1982.
String pieced patch work blocks
by Juanita L. Henry-Durham. Born  1921.
String pieced patchwork blocks by Katie Mae Durham-

Tatum. Born 1917-Died 2011.
Nine patch block and m-provisational half square patchwork  

block by Cephas Byrd. Born 1988. He was eleven years old when

these blocks were created.

Three M-provisational patchwork quilt blocks by Sherry A.

Brackens-Byrd. Born 1951.

Elenore Herrera-Brackens strip pieced  patchwork block.

Born 1960 in Guam.

Baralalessa (Bara) D. Byrd-Steward one patch doll quilt.

Born 1975.
Left: Blue and yellow one patch doll quilt_Leah R. Byrd. Born  1978.

Right: Pink /Peach/Purple one patch doll quilt_Miriam O.Byrd-McAlpine.

Born 1980.

K-becka (Catherine Rebecca)  Byrd-Gilmore.

Checkerboard  one patches and purple and 

green one patch doll quilts. Born 1977.

Laverne Henry-Brackens Lone Star.

Born 1927

Bessie Brackens-Johnson bowtie and teddy bear 
patchwork blocks.
Born 1955.
Katie Mae Durham-Tatum Pinwheel.

Born 1917-Died 2011.

Katie Mae Durham-Tatum Pinwheel.

Born 1917-Died 2011.
Trip Around the World Patchwork by A.M.(Amanda
Marie) "Sweet" Hunter-Titus. Born:1896-Died 1992.

Two Patch work blocks by Lillie E. Brackens-Mayes

Born 1953


This Sampler Quilt Spurred My Imagination to create 

This simple and beautifully composed Sampler 
Quilt which I accidentally came across in a magazine
in the 1980's inspired and gave me confidence that I
could create a quilt  similar to it. I did not at first
envision a reversible storyquilt. It was not till further down
the road of creativity that I discerned that a one sided quilt
could not possible display all the wonderful blocks and textiles
that I wished to use in the composition. Once that became clear 
in the creative process....I then and only then,decided that the 
sampler/storyquilt would have to be reversible. So I intuitively 
went with the creative flow....and everything worked out wonder-

And since I wasn't very good at doing traditional applique and had no 
desire to spend time learning how...I decided to go with what I did know 
how to do and that was handtying everything into place. I had lots of  practice
in that process because I had done it quite a bit when I was a young girl.
Therefore "HANDTYED APPLIQUE" became my creative choice for 
completing this sampler/storyquilt. Indeed it became a necessity as far as
I was concerned.
JAZZ WITH A NEEDLE AND THREAD.......more details.



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