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The Federal Eagle Quilt

The Federal Eagle Quilt in the museum’s permanent collection, was crafted in Maryland by Anna Markey Garnhart for her first grandson, John David Markey, born in 1822. The Federal Eagle was a popular motif in the early 19th century. It was this patriotic design that Garnhart used in two of her known quilts.

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The quilt came into our collection in May 1966 after the death of Geneva Covey Drake of Fargo, Okla. It had been in her possession for some time and had been made by her great-great-great grandmother. The Covey descendants generously chose to donate this family treasure to our museum realizing that with our care, it would be around for many more generations to enjoy.

The eagle has twice taken flight to Washington, D.C. for special exhibitions. The first was “Old Line Traditions: Maryland Women and Their Quilts” hosted by the D.A.R. Museum in 1985. The second exhibition was “A Family Legacy: The Quilts of Catharine Garnhart (1773-1860),” where our Eagle was displayed with eight of its sister quilts.

Most of the other Garnhart quilts stayed relatively close to Maryland, with the exception of ours, which came west with a pioneering branch of Catharine’s descendants. It first went to Iowa, then Missouri, and finally to Oklahoma following the 1893 Land Run.

An Oklahoma Quilt Historian, Dorothy Cozart, once called this quilt “one of the ten best quilts ever made in the United States… and all the rest are east of the Mississippi.”