Published On: Wed, Sep 25th, 2013

Quilt square joins rich history at Traveller’s Repose

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The Traveller’s Repose in Bartow was much more than a historical landmark to the late Jessie Brown Beard Powell. It was her birthplace, her home, her life.

Just 10 days before she passed away in the room where she was born, Powell signed the paperwork to have the Traveller’s Repose be a part of the “Patterns from the Past” quilt trail of Pocahontas County.

Including Traveller’s Repose was logical. Not only is it a historical landmark, it was the site of the Battle of Greenbrier River during the Civil War and the quilt squares are of Civil War patterns to commemorate the 150th anniversary of West Virginia becoming a state.

Prior to approval, Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Cara Rose met with Powell to gather information on Traveller’s Repose and specifically, the barn where the quilt square will be placed.

Although she was ill, Powell’s memory was not impaired and she used her words to paint a portrait of life in the farmhouse, the barns and the surrounding property.

“On October 3, 1861, Union and Confederate soldiers fought on the grounds, each seeking to control the Turnpike,” Powell explained to Rose, who recorded the information on the application. “Several skirmishes occurred along with five to six hours of cannon fire. The original house was pierced twenty-nine times by artillery.”

Powell’s parents, Brown Beard and Nellie Blanch Beard, originally lived at Dunlevie, now known as Thornwood. In 1910, they bought the Traveller’s Repose.

“It was an Inn on Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike,” Powell said. “It was the first one west of the Alleghenies. It housed the first Post Office in Pocahontas County.”

The barn designated for the quilt square was built in the 1920s by Brown Beard.

Beard owned and operated a thriving sawmill business on Top of Allegheny on land he owned.

“Mr. Harry Burner cut timber and lived on Back River Road, formerly Back Road to Durbin or Old Green Bank Road. Mr. Harry was a sawyer,” Powell said.

Powell explained that the barn was used to store hay as well as to winter over animals like cows, sheep, pigs, ducks, geese, chickens and peacocks. Powell added that she gathered eggs and assisted in butchering, feeding and canning.

The quilt square was installed on the barn in August by Jason Bauserman, his son, Jonah, and his granddaughter, Isabella.

The pattern is the Bow Tie and the block is facing US 250/28.

According to the CVB Quilt Trail pamphlet, the square “has been interpreted as indicating morning, midday, evening and night. When the pattern is turned on its side, an hourglass is created to symbolize time well managed. For some slaves, this pattern represented a bow tie given as part of a disguise after escaping to freedom.”

For more information on the quilt trail, contact the CVB at 304-799-4636.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontastimes.com

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