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Patriotic Eagles Quilt

Patriotic quilt made by Elizabeth Marthaler Stauf, ca. 1915.Patriotic quilts often appear during times of conflict. This eagle quilt was made in Kansas during World War I.

Elizabeth Marthaler Stauf was born in Berne, Switzerland, around 1860 and came to the United States at age 18. She settled first at Hiawatha, then moved to Marysville around 1880 where she married Henry Stauf, a carpenter, on July 2, 1883. The couple lived out the rest of their lives in Marysville, and had six children together.

Stauf made this bedcover at the start of World War I, before the United States entered the conflict in 1918. Like most patriotic quilts, it incorporates the colors of the U.S. flag and the eagle, a well-known symbol of the nation. The eagles and stars are appliquéd to the white background. All the fabrics are cotton, and the quilted designs are large fan shapes that arc across the top.

Eagles have been popular motifs on quilts since before the mid-19th century, and most patterns are unique and designed by their makers. Stauf’s eagle has a shield on its breast, as with the Great Seal of the United States, although her bird faces the opposite direction. Each eagle has a black embroidered eye and beak. The stars on the top further reinforce the patriotic tone.

Although she was born in Switzerland, Stauf probably spoke German when she emigrated. This factor may have come into play during the First World War, when Germany and Austria-Hungary were the aggressors. Her native country remained neutral throughout the conflict, but Stauf established her allegiance to the United States through her quilt.

The Kansas Museum of History received this quilt from Willa Ruth Hall, a granddaughter of Elizabeth Stauf.

Entry: Patriotic Eagles Quilt

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: October 2010

Date Modified: January 2019

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.