Stephens Blazing StarBlock Number: 164
McDowell Quilt Trail
MC DOWELL QUILT TRAIL ADDS TWO NEW BLOCKS
On Monday, September 8, 2014, Steve and Gail Miller joined the McDowell Quilt Trail with the installation of not one, but two quilt blocks: “Stephens’ Blazing Star” and “Freedom’s Flight”. Steve now retired from the nuclear power industry involving safety-related equipment and Gail, a retired church secretary, decided to move to the mountains for their retirement retreat. They built a home in the Grandview Peaks community and recently noticed the quilt blocks scattered throughout the County and became interested in them. While at a local business on Main Street which hosts a block they commented on it and received information about the McDowell Quilt Trail.
The Millers have been researching their families’ background through Ancestory.com and thought it would be appropriate to incorporate a portion of their findings as a part of their quilt blocks’ display. Block #164 is 3 by 3 foot entitled “Stephens’ Blazing Star” and the pattern and colors replicate an heirloom quilt made by Gail’s great-great grandmother, wife of John Riley Stephens, a 2nd Lieutenant in the Civil War around 1863.
The original quilt is in excellent condition and it has never been professionally cleaned in fear it would harm the colors or aged material. It does however, have a small stained area on it where Gail remembers her father telling her that they had used it to wrap fruit in for ripening. One year upon going to the root cellar they found that a pear had rotted and created the discoloration.
Quilting has existed since ancient times but it is uniquely associated with American women throughout U.S. history. Patterns were passed from one generation to the next and often one quilt pattern can have several names. Gail says her great-great grandmother Stephens related that her quilt was the Blazing Star pattern, a pattern that has been a favorite throughout the decades and boasts 8 points with vibrant color variations. “Stephen’s Blazing Star” is centered over the Miller’s porch and front entrance doorway, a reminder of the family’s quilting history and lends an Early American as well as contemporary feel.
“Freedom’s Flight”, block #165 on the Trail, is a 2.5 by 2.5 foot block installed on the right- hand side of the Miller’s adjacent garage. It is a patriotic symbol of the American flag and the majestic Eagle honoring both sides of their family for their “unwavering pledge to fight for our freedoms” from the Civil War to present day. Gail’s Dad served as a Master Sergeant in World War II and along with others of their families through the years they consider themselves a “military family on all sides”. Their son Matt Miller is an Airborne Paratrooper having served two tours in Iraq combat zones and is now currently stationed in Anchorage, Alaska as a United States Army Chaplain.
Installed by volunteers Mike Lucas and Jack Raker, both blocks are easily seen from the road at 1265 Mountain Vista Drive in the Grandview Peaks development. Chairwoman Jill Lucas presented a Certificate of Authenticity to the Millers for each block separately.