I believe in miracles. How about you? I had one last week on June 8th. A featured item in my display at my Civil War presentations, is a quilt made by a Union soldier, Christopher Staffinger, Orange County, IN, who was shot through the mouth at the Battle of Stones River, TN, and was bed-ridden for 23 months recuperating. I bought the quilt at his last daughter's estate sale in 1977. I'd never been able to locate any descendants, in fact, I thought there were none.
On June 8th, I checked my emails and it rocked my world! I had an email from the great great great great granddaughter of Christopher Staffinger! :-O Her uncle lives in the Quad City area and had read the wonderful article that Alma Gaul wrote about my presentations with mention of the one I was to give on June 12th in Davenport. He contacted his niece who is their family genealogist. She didn't know about the quilt and asked her grandfather, Robert, who was Christopher's great great grandson. HE didn't know about it either! He was the nephew of the lady who the estate sale was for. She had left her entire estate to a friend instead of family, having no children of her own. Robert had actually been at that auction and didn't bid on the quilt since he didn't know of it's story. He bought a family cook book and a rifle that Christopher brought home from the Civil War.
I literally had goosebumps from head to toe when I read her email. I emailed back with great excitement and assured her that I had loved and tenderly cared for the quilt the last 34 years and planned to donate it to the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, IL, after my death. Five descendants attended my presentation in Davenport on Sunday. It was a magical moment when I asked them to stand up. The audience gasped and gave them a rousing applause. Many, many pictures were taken of us together with the quilt and we had a good visit. They have invited me to one of their homes in Carthage to meet Robert who is in frail health and couldn't travel Sunday. They are gracious enough to have offered to make copies of all photos and documents they have of Christopher. I've been blessed to have met them and they are so supportive of my plans for the quilt.
At long last I have a picture of Christopher Staffinger, PVT, 38th Infantry Volunteer, seen here before the war. He was 17 yrs. old when he enlisted in 1861.
This picture was taken approx. 1880 of Christopher and his wife Margaret Jane (Beatty) Staffinger. The family told me that Christopher wore a full beard for the rest of his life to hide his facial injury.
Needless to say, Sunday's presentation was the best ever, at least for me. Having Staffinger family members there was a tremendously emotional experience for me and the audience as well. It forever changed my presentations. I now have new information and photos to enhance the story of Christopher and his quilt. To think of all the years I longed to find a photo of Christopher or discover a descendant and now, they found me! Miracles do happen! Believe.
After I meet with the family, I'll have more to share. In the meantime, I'm working on "Hardtack and Coffee", the first quilt for the Love and Valor book. I have to add the last 3 rows today and the top will be done. Then the hard part begins, writing the directions for the pattern. I better get to work!
A Life of Plenty
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