When Patricia Dalton was going through her deceased mother’s belongings at her home in Arroyo Grande, California, she found an unfinished crazy quilt. Mismatched patches of leftover fabric had been sewn together in a rough square, and some were embroidered with initials and years.
Dalton had never seen the quilt before but as she unfolded it, a name caught her eye: Ida Starkey, Pine City, 1894.
“I knew that was my grandmother,” Dalton said. “I knew the family was from Pine City but I didn’t know anything else about it.”
The old quilt became the reason for a family reunion on Monday at Touchmark South Hill, a senior living facility off 29th Avenue, when Dalton traveled to Spokane to meet with relatives here.
“I knew I had family here, but piecing together the family tree has been quite amazing,” Dalton said.
Ida Starkey was the youngest of 10 children, and one of eight who immigrated to the United States from Switzerland with her mother in 1888.
After a long train ride from the East Coast, the family settled in Pine City, a small community between St. John and Malden in Whitman County.
“So who do you call when you have a quilt that’s more than 100 years old and you don’t know who’s around any longer?” Dalton said.
Around the same time she found the quilt, she also went to a memorial service for a friend. There, a woman seated at another table was talking about a quilt store in Spokane.
Dalton went over and asked for contact information – the woman had a business card from the store – and then she went home and made a phone call.
She also called the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane.
She didn’t hear back from the store, but she did hear from the MAC.
The museum gave her the name and a number for the Pine City Historical Society, which is organized by Terri Johnson Brown.
Johnson Brown found a message on her mother’s answering machine and thought to herself: Who do we know in California?
“It was amazing,” Dalton said. “She knew all the Starkey people. We spoke for a long time.”
At the reunion, a detailed family tree had been put together another family member, Amy Hill, and old photos of the Starkey family and its homestead put up for display.
So what’s going to happen to the quilt now that it’s served another purpose and patched the family back together again?
“It will probably go to a museum,” Dalton said.
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