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Miller, Mary Firey
Place Made:
Clear Spring Washington County Maryland
Date Made:
90″ x 102″
Accession Number:
MAKER: Mary Firey was born on October 15, 1795 in Washington County, Maryland to Henry Firey (1766-1813) and Elizabeth Peters (1770-1853) of the Conococheague settlement, which spanned the Mason-Dixon line south to the Potomac River. Her paternal grandparents were Joseph Firey (1737-1804) and his wife Anna Maria Domer (1738-1810). A potter by occupation, Joseph had emigrated from the town of Durlach, Germany, east of Karlsruhe, and purchased 218 acres near the Conococheague Creek in 1763. In 1768, he bought a tract of 100 acres and in 1777 an additional 265 acres. By the 1783 tax assessment, he was taxed on land, as well as two slave children, nine horses and nineteen cattle. In the 1800 census, Joseph Firey, who was in his sixties, still had two slaves. He died in 1804 when his granddaughter Mary, the future quilter was age eight. Joseph’s stone house with central chimney still stands northeast of Clear Spring.

Mary grew up on a farm as a middle child in a family of seven children. They attended St. Paul’s Lutheran Church where her father was a trustee. Besides farming, her father owned a mill. Mary attended the school subscribed to by the members of St. Paul’s union church.

Family history refers to Mary as an “excellent needleworker and quilter”. She is believed to have made quilts for each of her children, as well as for many of her grandchildren. She was a prolific quilter with many of the quilts she made from the 1820’s to the 1870’s surviving.

Mary’s father died at age 47 when she was 18 years old. Mary married a widower, Samuel Miller (1783-1849) on March 2, 1816, the oldest child of Capt. John Miller (1756-1804), who had fought in the Revolution, and his wife Juliana Stine (1764-1842) of the Clear Spring District. Mary and Samuel were married by the German Reformed minister Rev. Jonathan Rahauser.

Miller’s first wife, Mary Ann Ankeney (1785-1815) had died in childbirth, and he had one son age three. Mary raised him and had ten children of her own, two who died young. Of her surviving children, seven were boys and one a daughter named for Mary’s mother. Her older brother Henry Fiery (1793-1861) married Samuel’s sister Martha Miller in 1821.

Samuel Miller’s farm was eight miles west of Hagerstown, straddling the National Pike (Route 40). Just three miles to the west, the town of Clear Spring had been laid out by 1820, and 15 years later it numbered 700 residents and seven hotels.

The Miller home was just east of St. Paul’s Lutheran & Reformed Church, which the family attended. Founded in 1747, it is the oldest church in Washington County. Like the Firey’s, the Millers were Lutheran. Mary’s little Martin Luther catechism book printed in Philadelphia is in German and she could read and write both German and English.

DESCRIPTION: Red cotton calico applique blocks against a white cotton background with highly detailed stitching. The pattern is sometimes called reel or orange peel.

From the maker, Mary Firey Miller (1795-1877) to her youngest son, Rev. Victor Miller (1834-1922), a Lutheran minister. Then to his only son, Rev. Luther Firey Miller (1872-1955), a Lutheran minister. Then to his cousin, Mary Louise Miller Hoffman (1907-1987). Then to her cousin, Jane Flory Ankeney Stansbury (1912-1995). Then to her cousin, Jean Woods, the donor. All of the above owners lived in the Clear Spring area for all or part of their lives.

(The above information provided by Jean Woods, donor of the quilt.)

Credit Line:
Gift courtesy of Jean Woods