Blog post by Randi Richardson
In March 2019 two quilts by Elizabeth Jane (Goss) Martin, a native of North Carolina and the daughter of David and Mary (Kooter) Goss, were placed on display in the lobby of the Monroe County History Center. One of the quilts, Polk’s Fancy, was donated to the History Center by Mary Lee Deckard, a family descendant. Mary Lee also made available to the History Center on loan for this exhibit a second, smaller, quilt also completed by Elizabeth Jane.
Polk’s Fancy, a rare quilt design with an estimated 40 pieces per square, has Elizabeth’s initials, EJG, embroidered in a corner. The design is believed to be a reference to James K. Polk, U. S. president from 1845 to 1849. Polk spent some time with 2,800 Indiana volunteers in the summer of 1846 camped near Elizabeth’s home in Wood Twp., Clark County, Indiana, while enroute to join Gen. Zachary Taylor in the war with Mexico. Elizabeth would have been 12 that year.
Netty Goss, Elizabeth’s cousin and the daughter of George and Mary Goss, lived near Elizabeth. She, too, liked to quilt and made one in the Polk’s Fancy design. Her quilt has the date 1846 stitched in a corner. In 1846, Netty would have been 26 and yet unmarried. It seems likely the Netty, undoubtedly the more experienced quilter, helped Elizabeth with the piecework for her quilt.
On December 16, 1850, Elizabeth married Thomas Martin in Clark County, Indiana. Ten years later, in 1860, the couple was residing with four of their children (Marietta, Washington, Laura E., and Lucinda) in the household of her father and two siblings in Bean Blossom Twp., Monroe County, Indiana. Eventually two more children, Clara Bell and Eva would be born to Elizabeth and Thomas.
Thomas died on June 2, 1893, while living on S. Park St., in Bloomington. Afterward Elizabeth moved to 803 S. Washington in Bloomington where she lived with two of her daughters and a son-in-law, Benjamin Morris, the husband of Eva. She was still living at that address when she died on April 13, 1907.
Teri Klassen, “Tracing the Genealogy of a Southern Indiana Quilt Pattern,” Indiana Genealogist, September 2007, Vol. 18, Issue 3, pp. 5-15, viewed online March 2019 at https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2022/20558/INGen%20PF.pdf;sequence=1.
Monroe County, IN, death record for Elizabeth J. Martin.
Federal Population Census Records: 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 and 1900.
Abstract from Bloomington (IN) Republican Progress, June 14, 1893, viewed online at INMONROE Rootsweb Mailing Lists.
Elizabeth J. (Goss) Martin death record, Monroe County Department of Health, available online at Ancestry.