Emeline Cochran Stout (1826-1905)
People have many ways of keeping their memories.
One of the true treasures that I inherited is this embroidery-enhanced crazy quilt, made by my great-great-grandmother, Emeline Cochran Stout, that must have reminded her and her family of many good times. Emeline was the mother of my grandfather, William Cochran (Doc) Stout, who was her oldest son.
Besides loving her first name, I am fascinated by her life, and of course the sewing skill she demonstrates in this crazy quilt.
Emeline’s father William Cochran, was known by the title of Colonel because of his service in the War of 1812. Emeline’s mother and father moved from Pennsylvania to Guernsey County, Ohio, where she was born on January 9, 1826. She was one of the Col.’s thirteen children and was born to the first of three wives, Martha Henderson. Her mother must have been glad to see a girl, after having four boys. And by the time Emeline was 12, she had four younger brothers. As the only girl in the house for a very long time (there were younger sisters), it is no wonder she would become a good seamstress. Her mother would need her help, and probably happily taught her the stitches she later used in the crazy quilt.
In 1844, Emeline (18) married Isaiah Stout (22), a farmer whose family came from New Jersey. I remember their wedding date because it is the same as mine–June 11. Emeline and Isaiah lived in various houses in Guernsey County, but settled in one in Wills township, one mile west of Middlebourne.
While they lived in the big white clapboard farm house, Emeline gave birth to eleven children, three of whom died before reaching the age of five. (There might have been a fourth infant death.)
Her mother died when Emeline was 27, the same year that she lost a two-year-old son. Emmeline could look out from her farmhouse windows and see the final resting place of many of her family members in the Stout cemetery, including Emeline’s mother and father, grandchildren and children, and Emeline and Isaiah’s infants (or very young children) who died in 1851, 1871 and 1872,
My great-great grandmother outlived her husband and toward the end of her life lost her eyesight. Oh, dear, I am making her life sound very depressing, but I do not think that was the case. Despite the fact that she lost children–a not uncommon occurrence in the 1800s, she had many children who grew to adulthood and some lived nearby.
She was very fortunate to live near the Cochran family, and to have most of her daughters remain close to her as well. One of her sons, George, became a doctor and lived on a neighboring farm. Her son, William Cochran Stout, also a doctor, lived close enough for visits. Frank, a lawyer in Omaha visited by train with his wife and children. The visits appeared in the local newspaper under personals.
Two sons went West at young ages to make their fortunes. And how proud she must have been of the extraordinarily successful careers of all four of her sons who managed to get college educations and become self-made leaders of their communities.
After her husband died in 1872 (the same year she lost a 5-year-old daughter, so perhaps an epidemic?) she began the common widow’s practice of living with her children or grandchildren. My mother said that at one point she lived with mother’s grandmother and grandfather (Hattie and Doc William Stout) in Killbuck when she was losing her sight.
I will pursue more about Emeline’s birth family (the Cochrans), and about her husband and children, but now, let’s focus on the crazy quilt she made late in her life.
According to Wikipedia, crazy quilts “created a stir in the 1880s when it became quite a fad in the United States. The Japanese Exhibit in the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition inspired the crazy quilt with its asymmetrical art. “
Emeline must have had to work hard to do all the stitching in this embroidered quilt, since her eyesight would surely have been fading. But in the tradition of our pioneer and farm foremothers, there were scraps of fabric aplenty, and no need to let them go to waste, when you could make something serviceable.
This quilt was not only serviceable, but it was a family record as well, with pieces of children’s clothing, at least one wedding dress and even a badge awarded to my great-grandfather “Doc” Stout for his participation in the Holmes County Centennial celebrations. ( Read more at this link.)
Only the best fabrics went into the quilt–velvets and silks and satins and a tiny piece of fake fur. But also liners from hats, clothing labels, and ribbons from special events. How I wish I knew the history of other beautiful pieces here, like the cut velvet, or the sheer fabric with a hand-painted flower.
My mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser, did identify for me the wedding dress of Hattie Morgan Stout who was married before it seemed necessary for brides to wear white. I have other scraps of that emerald-green silk, so I know that it was very precious to her. These pieces of green silk with a pattern embossed, are scattered throughout.
Emeline made nine squares and when they were sewn together the outside edge of the quilt was 70″ x 70 1/2″. Apparently she never finished it, because there is no batting or backing. The blue satin edging was added by my mother, some time in the 1970’s.
My great-great-grandmother also made a pillow cover in similar style, with perhaps fancier embroidery, although the embroidery on the whole quilt is creative and delightful. Not only are the seams between pieces decorated, but plainer pieces have designs added, and sometimes flowers twine up the edge, or embroidery enhances a pattern already on the cloth.
So many memories here–and most of the specifics are lost in time. But although it is more contemporary, and I would not have chosen to add it, the bright blue border that my mother added has meaning as well. It was material that I had used to make myself a long formal gown when I was in my twenties. Now THAT is crazy.
Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher
daughter of Harriette Anderson Kaser
who is the daughter of Vera May Stout Anderson
who is the daughter of William Cochran Stout
who is the son of Emeline Cochran Stout
My cousin Larry Anderson and his wife Judy found that property and the Stout graveyard on the farm and recorded and photographed the tombstones there
The Household Guide and Instructor with Biographies, History of Guernsey County, Ohio (1882) by T. F. Williams. Page 520 sketches the life of William Cochran, and says that Emeline and her husband had twelve children, four of whom died before 1882. There seem to be some discrepancies in that record, but I have confirmed eleven children, and know of three infant or young child deaths, so there could well have been eight living in 1882, and an additional infant death. Many people writing about the Stout family have misinterpreted the entry to indicate that Emeline and Isaiah had two sons who served in the Civil War. This is not correct, and I believe those two men were actually Emeline’s brothers.
Notes on Research
Oral history from Harriette Kaser Anderson.
Emeline’s crazy quilt and family photographs are in the possession of the author. The pillow cover has gone to live in Massachusetts with Emeline’s 4x great-grandson and his wife, Kenneth Paul and Ashley Badertscher.
United States Federal Census Reports: 1850, Liberty, Washington, Ohio; 1860, Oxford, Guernsey, Ohio; 1870, 1880, Wills, Guernsey, Ohio.
Ohio, County Marriages, 1774-1993, Guernsey County, Isaiah Stout and Emeline Cochran, 11 June 1844.
Find a Grave, Emeline Cochran Stout