Fact or Figment....

There will always be conversation and discussion over the so called designated use of ‘quilt codes’ for the runaway slaves. It has been read that the ‘code’ was a way of saying something to another person, while at the same time being in the presence of other people, but not letting on that there was some sort of direction or information being given.

Since the first publication of the ‘quilt code’, it’s theory has met with considerable controversy. Even today quilt historians and Underground Railroad experts question the methodology of the creation of the quilts and their patterns as well as the accuracy of the code itself. Whether the code of the quilts actually existed or not, we continue our Block of the Month to celebrate those slaves that made it to freedom.

In 1837 The Raisin Institute was one of the first schools in the United States to admit black students. It was founded, along with her husband, by Laura Smith Haviland. She also organized one of the first underground railroad stations in the State of Michigan. Laura also worked with the Women’s Temperance Movement and helped to create state schools for dependent children. Hence the connection with our next quilt block.

This block was to play a significant role in the journey of the runaways on their flight to freedom. The ‘Drunkards Path’ quilt pattern reminded slaves to move in a staggered path to keep the slave hunters confused and tracking more difficult. The block simply stated, ‘Do not travel in a straight path, you might be followed. Weave your way to freedom along the crooked path, even doubling back occasionally so as not to be caught.’ It was designed using quarter circles, swapping dark and light and rotating in endless, fascinating arrangements.

So, once again, each participant must find a block pattern with the name ‘Drunkards Path’. The size of your finished block is completely up to you. If you have any trouble drafting a block to your required size, email Katy with your original block diagram, and the finished size that you want, and she will redraft it for you. When you have finished your block, post a picture on the forum for everyone to enjoy or email a photo to: katy.purvis@myhobbystore.com
Underground Railroad Sampler quilts grew from the belief that quilts made with specific block patterns were used as signals to communicate a message to the African American people escaping from slavery in the US by travelling in secret to Canada. In recent years quilt historians and academics have debated over whether quilts really did feature as a widespread method of communication, and you can read about this in Xenia Cord's article, The Underground Railroad