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Event Photos: Piecing the Past: The Marina Gregg Quilt

The Quilt

The Marina Gregg quilt at the Gregg-Graniteville Archives quilt is a stars and diamond pattern quilt and is made of velvet, cotton, silk, and satin. It measures 71 ½ inches by 68 ½ inches.

Marina Gregg’s quilt employs the English Paper Piecing technique. Sometimes called Mosaic Work or paper-template piecing, this traditional quilting techniques utilizes a paper template to stabilize fabrics and to ensure that each piece of the quilt is uniform. For the foundation of each quilting piece, a paper template is cut, the fabric is wrapped around the shape, and then the piece is hand basted. 


Marina Gregg used a brass hexagon template to cut consistent templates out of paper.  In Charleston, Tritt & Wingard had an opportunity to view a number of loose, fabric covered paper template pieces that she hand based. They noted that Mrs. Gregg used sheet music and other paper scraps with text for paper templates. 

Uncovering the Quilt

As the Archives Coordinator at the Gregg-Graniteville Archives, Professor Deborah Tritt works with researchers as they utilize the rich collection of primary source materials in the Archives. One frequent researcher in the Archives is George Wingard. George is the co-director of the Graniteville Archaeological Project with Dr. Keith Stephenson, serves as President of the Horse Creek Historical Society and is known for his work on the documentary “Discovering Dave: Spirit Captured in Clay.”

Deborah Tritt                                                       George Wingard

During one such visit, Mr. Wingard and Prof. Tritt began to discuss the genealogy of William Gregg (1800-1867). While discussing Marina Gregg, Prof. Tritt mentioned that the Archives had a quilt. A quilt simply described on the provenance card as “Old quilt” along with the names of three individuals who owned the quilt.

While it was known that Marina Gregg was an award-winning quilter, there was no indication that this quilt was created by Marina Gregg.  They were left with the question, is this really a Marina Gregg quilt?

So began their journey to discover if the quilt was created by Marina Gregg.

Examining the Evidence

On the provenance card enclosed with the quilt, three names were mentioned: Katherine Hammond, E.C. Garvin and Mrs. J. G. Chafre.

Katherine Hammond was the daughter of James Henry Hammond of Redcliffe Plantation and married to James J. Gregg, William and Marina Gregg’s son. James J. Gregg whose murder was made famous by Cormac McCarthy’s screenplay “The Gardner’s Son” was Katherine’s first husband. George  Wingard contacted the staff at Redcliff Plantation and they confirmed that Katherine was not a quilter.

Thanks to the research of Tina Monaco at the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library/Georgia History Room, we learned that Mrs. E. C. Garvin was an Augusta socialite with a keen interest in textiles. We later learned that Mrs. Garvin was the niece of Katherine Hammond’s second husband, William E. McCoy.

Mrs. J. G. Chafre, we determined was actually Mrs. John Gregg Chafee (Mrs. Leona Gregg Chafee), the wife of Rosa Clara Chafee’s son - the grandson of William and Marina Gregg.

Solving the Mystery

While familial and area connections made it feasible that it could be a Marina Gregg quilt, there was still no indicator that this quilt was made by Marina Gregg. To get to the bottom of this mystery, Tritt & Wingard took the Gregg-Graniteville Archives quilt to Charleston to compare with a quilt they knew Marina Gregg created.

In Charleston, Wingard & Tritt met up with Charleston History Museum’s textile curator, Jan Hiester & quilt historian, Laurel Horton at the Charleston History Museum. During the visit, they compared Marina’s 1852 quilt with the Gregg-Graniteville Archives quilt.

They compared fabrics, patterns and stitching. In both quilts a similar stars and diamond pattern was seen and both quilts employed the English paper piecing quilting technique. While the quilts varied in size, both quilts revealed an intentional juxtaposition of fabrics to create small unique patterns. They also compared pieces of hexagonal scrap cloth that belonged to Mrs. Gregg, along with a brass hexagon template that was used to create the templates. While the brass hexagon template did not match the Charleston Museum quilt, it matched the Gregg-Graniteville Archives quilt.  Both the quilt historian and the textile curator felt that we could attribute the quilt to Mrs. Marina Gregg.