“I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person now I was free. There was such a glory over everything, the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.”
 
Author Unknown
 
The above quote, I can only assume, is that of a free slave. With no mention of a name, it could have been said by any one of thousands of slaves that were freed from the burdens of slavery.
 

A photograph from the 1880s of Harriet Tubman with some she helped to escape from slavery, along with members of their families.
 
It was the Underground Railroad, an organized system accepting help from abolitionists and safe houses for hiding and aiding fugitive slaves that brought thousands of these slaves to freedom from the south in the United States to the north in Canada. It was estimated that as many as 100,000 people escaped slavery between the American Revolution and the Civil War.
 
Safe houses used on these journeys were known as ‘stations’. Those that helped and guided the runaways were called ‘conductors’ and the runaways themselves were called ‘passengers’.
 
It has been said that quilts made with specific block patterns were used as signals to communicate a message to these ‘passengers’. Underground Railroad Sampler quilts grew out of this idea, but in recent years quilt historians and academics have debated over whether quilts really did feature as a widespread method of communication. The quilt code may or may not be a story, but it is a lovely idea. The names of the blocks used and the meanings associated with them are very interesting and pay homage to those involved in the Underground Railroad. It is well worth celebrating the courage of those involved in the movement and assistance of slaves in the late nineteenth century through making these blocks. Through our quilts we can show respect and remembrance of the past, of courageous people not forgotten, by bringing people together, whatever the truth, to create something positive for the future.
 
According to the theory, only one block pattern was used in each quilt but it is all of these individual blocks that will be forming our ‘Block of the Month Sampler’ series and as each month progresses a new block will emerge with a new meaning. So why not join us in our journey via the ‘Underground Railroad’.
 

Jacob’s Ladder

 
Our first month and initial block is called ‘Jacobs Ladder’ also known as ‘Underground Railroad’. The block is said to have been used for directional purposes as the alternating path of dark and light fabrics could be used to show the direction in which a ‘passenger’ was to travel.
 
So to start with this month, each participant must find a block pattern with the name of ‘Jacobs Ladder’. I don’t think you’ll have too much trouble with this one. 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.