Saturday, January 4, 2014


Donald Waters is alive and well, and his daughter came to see the quilt
As if I did not already believe in karma, another good thing has happened as a result of putting something good out there in the world. And just as karma is said to work, the good came back tenfold.

If you have followed my blog or the "Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics" guest blog series, you may remember this quilt. It was made in 1931 by members of Post 9 of the American Legion Auxiliary in Salem, Oregon. A couple years ago, I sat down with Mary Bywater Cross, transcribed the names, and posted them on my blog. We began to learn more about the quilt after Mary lectured about it in Salem, and my "Why Quilts Matter" blog was published, but recently more information has surfaced.

Liz with the quilt that has her father's name on it
Deb, a Salem-area genealogist was helping her friend Liz, who is part of Tabitha Moffat Brown's family tree, with a DAR application.

Tabitha Moffat Brown - the Mother of Oregon!

When searching for family names, the "Why Quilts Matter" blog came up. I received an e-mail from Deb, asking for more information. We e-mailed back and forth and soon set up a meeting.

Yesterday, Deb and Liz came to see the quilt, and I learned that Liz is the daughter of Donald Waters, whose name is on the quilt. Donald was 5 when the quilt was made, and he does not remember it, but he is still alive and doing well- still driving his car. Mae Waters, who was also known to the family as Lizzie Mae, was one of the ringleaders in the creation of the quilt. Liz was named after Lizzie Mae, and they had known each other when Liz was a small child.

Deb and Liz knew many of the names on the quilt, family members, friends, and some of their stories. I was delighted to let Liz explore the quilt, running her fingers over the embroidered names, and I did not make her wear white gloves!

There is something to be said for letting history unfold, allowing it to present itself rather than trying to ferret it out. Put something good into the world, and see what happens. This approach may seem too undisciplined to produce any worthwhile results, but I believe in it. When Mary Bywater Cross and I sat down to transcribe all the information on the quilt, we talked about how wonderful it would be to have relatives discover the information and get in touch- but it was just a wish. It was far beyond anything we ever expected to have a relative of Tabitha Moffat Brown turn up as a result.


  1. That is wonderful..... do wonder if Deb and Liz will mention their visit to "others" and perhaps there will be more information to come forth. You are a great guy not to insist on white gloves. LOL

  2. Doesn't the Gold Star indicate 'killed in combat'?

  3. On this particular quilt: Mrs. Lizzie Mae (Urschel) Water's brother, Jacob Urschel has a gold star next to his name; he died in Belgium, France while in the service. However, he did not die of war injury or wounds. He died of spinal meningitis. He had written that he would be home soon and died within weeks of the letter on 26 Nov 1918.