Collections › MESDA Collection › Whitework Quilt

Whitework Quilt

Nenney, Sarah Galbraith
Place Made:
Greene County Tennessee United States of America
Date Made:
HOA: 103; WOA: 95
Accession Number:
MAKER: This stuffed and corded quilt was made by Sarah Galbraith Nenney (1809-1899) before her marriage to Charles G. Nenney (1809-1857) on October 2, 1828. A similarly designed bedcover descended in the family of her sister, Elizabeth Galbraith Doak, which is now in the collection of the East Tennessee Historical Society.

Sarah Galbraith Nenney was born in 1809 in Greene County, Tennessee. Goodspeed’s History of Tennessee describes Sarah as “a daughter of James and Nellie (Martin) Galbraith, natives of Pennsylvania, of Scotch-Irish stock, and among the earliest settlers of Greene County.”

Sarah married Charles Nenney (1809-1857) in 1828 and the wedding was oficiated by Samuel Witherspoon Doak, a prominent Presbyterian minister and the founder of Tusculum College. Charles Nenney was one of the first trustees of the Bethesda Presbyterian Church in Russellville, Tennessee, and was listed in their records as a slave holder. The 1840 census showed one make slave and three female slaves in the Nenney household. Charles and Sarah had six children before Sarah was widowed in 1857. She was listed as head of household in the 1860 census with real estate holdings worth $3000 and a personal estate of $7500.

It was Sarah Nenney who shared her home with General Longstreet and the Confederate cause during the winter of 1863-1864. Sarah remained the matriarch of this family until her death in 1899 at 90 years old. The home Sarah lived in for more than fifty years still stands as the Longstreet Museum on the Civil War Trail in Tennessee.

DESCRIPTION: White cotton stuffed and corded bedcover with an extensively stippled background, the pattern of trailing leaves, vines, and grapes around the border and reaching deep toward the center which has no design. The whole consists of four panels and is quilted in parallel diagonal lines; finely woven cotton top with backing of a looser weave.

Descended in the Nenney-Patterson family of Hamblen (formerly Jefferson) County, Tennessee. According to local historian Alice Trent, the bedcover came out of the Nenney-Patterson house in the town of Russellville. An historic plaque in the yard of the house says that the Confederate army was billeted there.

Credit Line:
Gift of Frank L. Horton Gift of Frank L. Horton