Fairfield history found in stitches of terquasquicentennial quilt
A quilt marking Fairfield’s 175th birthday celebration is being raffled by the Northside Strippers Quilt Club.
The quilt, designed by Judie Herzog and sewn as a collaborative effort by the club members, features several of Fairfield’s historical buildings.
The center of the quilt features the Bonnifield Log House. The Bonnifield Log House, built in 1838 by the Rhodam and Nancy Bonnifield family to replace the makeshift cabin built the previous year when the family settled in what was to become Jefferson County, is known as the oldest still-standing dwelling of any white man in Iowa.
But the tiny house is probably better known as the place where Fairfield was named.
According to Fairfield history as recorded by Susan Fulton Welty in her book “A Fair Field,” in March 1839, when city commissioners were visiting the Bonnifields, they described the “pretty prairie” of the new town, and Mrs. Bonnifield suggested the name Fairfield.
Years later, in 1908, the Old Settlers Association relocated the long-deserted cabin to Old Settlers Park, about 8 miles from its original location.
The commemorative quilt also features photos of other buildings with historical significance in Fairfield, including: the Carnegie Library, which was the first library Andrew Carnegie funded outside of his home state of Pennsylvania, which now houses the Carnegie Historical Museum and Indian Hills Community College Jefferson Center; and the original Jefferson County Hospital, Iowa’s second oldest county hospital, which opened Oct. 2, 1912.
Herzog said the photos are reproduced from post cards in the collection of Fairfield historian Gene Luedtke.
The quilt also has “history blocks” in its four corners. The blocks include important dates from Fairfield’s past, such as the community hosting the inaugural Iowa State Fair Oct. 25, 1854.
Herzog also pointed out the quilt has 175 flying geese blocks to represent the 175 years of Fairfield.
The quilt has been displayed at several locations around town, including the Maasdam Barns during the inaugural museum crawl earlier this month. Now, during the Greater Jefferson County Fair, Wednesday through Sunday, the quilt will be displayed in the McCleary Building on the fairgrounds.
Raffle tickets for the quilt are available from Northside Strippers Quilt Club members and at O’Grady Cleaners. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5.
The proceeds from the raffle will be used for historical preservation projects.
Barn quilt registration
The quilt club members have undertaken a project to compose a directory of the barn and house quilts in Jefferson County, with a goal to produce a scenic driving map of all the pieces of art.
Residents are asked to register their barn and house quilts at the club’s booth during the fair.
4-H club challenge
In addition, the Jefferson County 4-H clubs are having a club challenge this year at the fair: barn quilts.
For the challenge, 4-H’ers painted 2- by 2-feet wooden barn quilts in a variety of designs and exterior paint colors. Patterns range from Streak of Lightning to North Star.
The quilts will be exhibited outside the show arena, and fairgoers can vote for their favorite design with money. The top three clubs will receive a monetary prize for their barn quilts.
The 4-H wooden barn quilts will be available for sale through a silent auction. Bids can be made inside the Activity Building during the 2014 Greater Jefferson County Fair.