Shared history: The Civil War in art, quilts, and song

To the Editor:

How are handmade quilts and the Civil War related?

Visitors to the Voorheesville Public Library can find out at an exhibit commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Cold Harbor and introducing the Helderberg Quilt Barn Trail. The exhibit details Knox’s local hero, Lt. Michael H. Barckley, who received a fatal wound at the Battle of Cold Harbor.

It also highlights the importance of quilts during the war, both for soldiers’ bedding and in fund-raising for wartime supplies. Amazingly, the United States Sanitation Commission and other agencies supplied the Union Army with a quarter of a million (250,000) quilts between August 1861 and April 1865.

Visitors are invited to meet Civil War re-enactors at an opening reception on Sunday, March 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the library’s community room. Re-enactor Bob Mulligan will explain a model of the Battle of Cold Harbor, while historical musician Rick Sherman plays songs of the era on his guitar.

I'll talk about my process for painting decorative wooden barn quilts, which may be purchased or ordered at that time. The Knox Historical Society will serve refreshments.

Robert Weible, New York’s State Historian, has charged the historic community with sharing resources as a way to offset diminished funding. This exhibit and reception are a collaborative effort of Voorheesville Public Library, 125th New York Volunteer Infantry, Capital District Civil War Round Table, Helderberg Quilt Barn Trail, Knox Historical Society, and Uncle Billy’s Balladeers.

The library is located at 51 School Road. For more information, contact Lynn Kohler, publicist,  at 765-2791, or visit the website at

The Helderberg Quilt Barn Trail ( is a driving tour in the Hilltowns of Albany County to view barn quilts throughout the countryside. It is part of a national grassroots movement that celebrates rural architecture and American folk art. Please contact me by phone at 872-2082 or by e-mail at for more information.

John Elberfeld, co-founder
Helderberg Quilt Barn Trail

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