Story takes place around 1830-1831. It is about a family living
near Funks Grove in Central Illinois. Ellen's mother died so she
has to take care of the home. Her chores include cooking, cleaning,
and sewing. She worries much about the sewing because she lacks fabric.
Her mother had made her own fabric, but Ellen did not know how. When
her father, a stockman, leaves home to go to Springfield, Ellen asks him
to bring her blue calico. He returns several days late, not with
blue fabric, but with a new mother in a blue dress. Ellen is very
careful not to betray her own mother by liking her step mother, Julia,
too much. Mrs. Kirby uses the story to make the reader wonder if
this patchwork family will "unravel and fall apart or make something beautiful."
Mrs. Kirby wrote Ellen's Story
second. Originally Silas was not one of Lacey's relatives.
Mrs. Kirby's editor suggested that she connect both sides of the family
The antiquie Hornbuckle Quilt
(pictured) that this story is centered around has been donated to Lincoln's
New Salem State Historic Site. Family legend says
that Clarissa Hornbuckle purchased the fabric from Abe Lincoln and because
he returned the money that he over charged her, she gave him the name "Honest
Abe." Although the stitches are missing, one can still see the shadow
where Clarissa sewed her daughters' names. The Hornbuckle family claims
that the fabric was once orange but has faded to white.
The Hornbuckle Quilt pattern is
known by two names: "Robbing Peter to Pay Paul" (a name that bothered
Ellen) and "Orange Peel". It has been said that Marquette LaFeyette
peeled an orange for the lady next to him at a dinner party. She
had been so impressed that she made a quilt pattern from the way the orange
Thing to do:
in the Story
to the American Quilts Home Page