Bobbie Bryant grew up an eighth-generation dark-fired tobacco farmer on her family’s land in Calloway County, but she never realized the importance of that until she was an adult.
“I can’t talk about quilting without talking about farming and family,” she said.
As she researched her ancestors, all the records showed that she came from farmers.
“We never had anyone who fought a duel or robbed a bank,” she laughed.
Her interest in genealogy started when she was young and she began researching her ancestors with the help of her family.
Growing up, she had her parents, grandparents and even two sets of great-grandparents, who all instilled in her a desire to know more about her past.
But as she researched, she found many of the records to be lacking.
“All you know from the records oftentimes is the name, birth, death, marriage certificate — there’s no personality to it,” she said.
More often than not, Bryant found that the women of her family were recorded only as wives — even on their tombstones. She did, however, find heirloom quilts that were “signed” by the women who sewed them.
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“For vast numbers of 19th century women, their needles became their pens and their quilts their expressive texts,” she noted.
Bryant discovered that women of that time period were discouraged from learning to read and write, so the only voice they had was through their quilting.
“That might be the only imprint they’ve left from their life on this earth,” she said.
She studied the records and the quilts and spoke with her parents and grandparents to collect the family’s history.
“Our family got so excited about having 10 generations of farmers … we began to write our stories down,” she said.
She collaborated with her father and published “Passions of the Black Patch: Cooking and Quilting in Western Kentucky” last January.
Along with the history of her family, she included the hand-written recipes from her great-grandmother to give people a taste of the Black Patch, the region of Western Kentucky that grows dark-fired
Reach Heather Huber at 270-887-3238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.