Heirloom Quilts

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This weeks topic for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks  is Heirloom. 

I have several things that have been handed down to me mainly from my mother’s side of the family.  Today I want to focus on two quilts made by my great-grandmother, Eva Reinhardt.  My great-grandmother came to America from Germany  with her parents in December 1879 when she was 21 months old and her brother John was four months old[1]. Eva’s parents, Conrad and Anna Reinhardt, settled in Amana, Iowa.[2]  I always wondered what attracted them to the Amana Colonies.  Did they belong to the Community of True Inspiration in Germany?  I don’t know the answer to this yet.  Usually people tend to settle in places where they have relatives or friends.  Who did Conrad and Anna know in the Amana Colonies?  As it turns out Conrad had an Aunt that lived in Amana.  Maybe there were others as well, however at this point I can only find the aunt.   

Aunt Elisabeth Schuh came to the Ebenezer Society in September 1847 at age 16 and then to Amana in October 1863.[3] She did not come with her own family, but came with the Bortz family with the intention of going to live in Galion, OH.[4]  According to the Bortz family, Elisabeth’s parents did not approve of her relationship with a certain boy and shipped her to America.[5]  She is described as 6’ 2” tall and 225 lbs.[6] or a person of size and strength.[7]  Elisabeth spent her life in Amana and it appears she never married.  Elisabeth Schuh was born on May 26, 1831 in Nussloch, Baden, Germany[8] and died on May 25 1908 one day shy of her 77th birthday.[9]  She is buried in the Amana Cemetery in Amana, Iowa.[10]

Conrad and Anna only stayed in Amana a little over three years and then moved to Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois.[11]  Eva was five years old at this time and spent the rest of her youth in Ottawa, Illinois.  She became a milliner and seamstress.  Her daughters, Helen and Frances, inherited her seamstress skills.  Frances earned her living sewing first in a sweat shop and later in bridal shop.   My grandmother, Helen, was a housewife and sewed for her family.  She made quilts out of my mother’s old dresses and mine too.  I liked to looking at them and remembering the dresses.  Unfortunately, those were not given to me, and I don’t know what happened to them.

In 1985 my mother and I made a research trip to Amana, Iowa and visited the Amana Heritage Museum.  I saw many items in the museum like my grandmother had in her home, but what really grabbed my attention were the quilts.  They were just like the ones made by my great-grandmother Eva.  Now when I look at these quilts that I inherited, I think of my heritage, Eva, and Amana, Iowa.

If you would like to read more about the Reinhardt Family see the following blog posts.

Conrad Reinhardt

Great Grandmother Eva  

John Conrad Reinhardt

Aunt Liz’ Secret Life

Aunt Emma’s Two Lives

Aunt Agnes a Love Story

Remembering Grandma

Memories of Aunt Fran

Thinking of Uncle Ralph

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst


[1] Germans to America (Vol. 34). (1993). Wilmington, DE, DE: Scholarly Resources.

[2] Amana Church Membership Records, in archive collection of the Amana Heritage Museum, Amana, Iowa.

[3] Amana, Iowa,  Amana Heritage Museum, Anderson Cards, the Koch Verzeichnis

[4] Amana, Iowa, Amana Heritage Musuem, The Bortz Family

[5] Amana, Iowa, Amana Heritage Musuem, The Bortz Family

[6] Sabetha, Kansas, Sabetha Herald, Wednesday,  December 8, 1936, page 4.

[7] Amana, Iowa,  Amana Heritage Museum, Anderson Cards, the Koch Verzeichnis

[8] Amana, Iowa, Amana Heritage Musuem, The Bortz Family

[9] From Find-a-grave website: https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2228228/memorial-search?firstName=elisabeth&lastName=Schuh&page=1#sr-106053138

[10] https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2228228/memorial-search?firstName=elisabeth&lastName=Schuh&page=1#sr-106053138

[11] Amana Church Membership Records, in archive collection of the Amana Heritage Museum, Amana, Iowa

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