Alabama Department of Archives and History
Wandering Foot, 1870
Emillia Harrison Daniel
Surles, Crenshaw County
The Wandering Foot quilt is a confounding collection of patterns made by the repetition of layered squares and circles. The “foot” is the three-part leaf shaped element that makes up the two forms. When the squares are placed, the feet “overlap” and combine to create an elaborate collection of curved squares and pinwheel shapes. The strict regularity of pattern creates a unified and balanced image. The quilter has sewn a four-part pattern into the white elements of the quilt further building its splendid textures and emphasizing the nature of this as a textile of extraordinary quality.
In the fall of 1870, Emillie Harrison Daniel hand-sewed this quilt using cotton grown and spun on the family’s planation in Crenshaw County. The dye for the cotton was also made from organics collected locally. According to family lore, Emillie, her daughter, and 10-year-old granddaughter collected pine knots from nearby Patsaliga Creek to make a fire for Emilia to sew by.
Emilia, born in Georgia in 1818, moved with her family to Alabama in the 1820s. In the early 1830s, she married William Joseph Daniel, whose father is considered one of the first Americans to settle in present-day Crenshaw County. The couple had eight children between 1836 and 1859. In 1850, the Daniel’s owned two slaves and a farm in Rocky Mount, Lowndes County valued at $1200. By 1870, the family moved back to Crenshaw County and owned the cotton plantation on which the quilt was sewn.
After Emillie’s death in 1901, the quilt was passed down the Daniel family line with strict instructions by Emillie’s granddaughter that it only be “used only to look at. Not to be used on a bed for cover nor on a pallet.”
Back to quilt pair.