The final stories I want to tell through quilts are the stories of the Henry’s quilts. The Henry’s are one of the families that are closely associated with the Oshawa Community Museum. Their family home (built c. 1840) is still standing in Oshawa’s Lakeview Park, and it is one of the three historic houses that make up our museum.
The Henry Family lived in this home from the time it was built through to the turn of the century. The family’s patriarch was Thomas Henry, a farmer, minister in the Christian Church, and a harbourmaster for a number of years. With his first wife Elizabeth, he had a daughter (Nancy, who died in infancy), and five sons: John, William, George, Thomas Simon, and Ebenezer. After Elizabeth died, Thomas married Lurenda Abbey, and they had a total of 10 children: Eliza, James, Phineas, Albert, Elizabeth, Joseph, Jesse, Clarissa, William, and Lurenda Jane (Jennie).
The Oshawa Community Museum has many cherished artifacts which once belonged to members of the Henry Family; some are on display in Henry House while others are in storage for safe keeping. Some of these artifacts are textiles and quilts.
This Victorian crazy quilt was once owned by Mary Myrtle Ellis (nee Henry). Mary’s father was Albert Henry, and her mother was Harriett Guy. Harriett died while Myrtle was young, and for a time in the 1870s, Myrtle and her sister Alberta lived in the family’s stone house with their grandparents Thomas and Lurenda. Many of the patches on this beautiful quilt feature floral patterns. On the left side of the quilt, second patchwork square from the top, there is a blue patch which has been embroidered with the words “Flora 1889.” The middle right, top square has a patch which features the wording: “Tammany Hall, Toronto, Granite Island Camp, Thousand Islands – 1887”. This quilt was on display for some time in the Henry House bedroom, however, the bottom of the quilt is now rather frayed and delicate, and it is now safely in storage.
This quilt has the same provenance, belonging to Myrtle Henry. In one corner, embroidered in red, are the initials MH.
While not a ‘quilt,’ there is an interesting story behind this blanket. As the story goes, the wool for this blanket was prepared by Lurenda Henry herself. The wool was then sent away and was professionally woven into this blanket. There is a blue piece of fabric which has been attached to the top to allow the blanket to hang.