Quilt Notes

Road to California: A Pioneer Quilt Made on the Overland Trail

We know that not a lot of quilting was done by pioneer women on the trail but this is an interesting exception.

Mary Margaret Hezlep was 14 and 15 years old in 1859 when she traveled to California. She traveled along with her mother, grandmother as well as aunts and other friends. The trip took 7 months and along the way she and the other women worked together to piece a friendship quilt. This quilt has the penned names of over thirty fellow travelers. More than names appear in ink on this quilt. Such phrases as, "Ho for California", "Crossed the Plains" and "Arrived in Columbia, Oct. 28, 1859" can be seen on this quilt.

The quilt pieces for the "Road to California" quilt pattern had been cut out back in Illinois before the trip so it is certain this project was planned well ahead of time. Perhaps the women in the family thought piecing this quilt would help Mary pass the time on the long journey.

In groups traveling together across the country it often many were related. In this case Mary's uncle had been to California several time and because of his enthusiasm and encouragement several members of this family embarked on this journey together.

Life must have been busy in California for Mary. She became a teacher and then married. Twenty years passed before she finished the quilt to give to her daughter in celebration of her 14th birthday. Perhaps Mary was remembering when she herself was that age. What a perfect time to give her daughter this quilt and the story of her westward journey.

To the right is a EQ6 picture of what the quilt was like. Of course my example doesn't the writing on the quilt nor or does it show the less than perfect stitching, borders and block placement that add to the charm of this quilt.


"Ho for California! Pioneer Women and Their Quilts" by Jean Ray laury

"Pioneer Quilts: A Comfort Through Hardship"
An article about pioneer women and their quilts.

Ho for California pattern

There are several patterns named
Road to California. Read about them
and enjoy a free pattern at
Road to California:
A Quilt About a Destination