Louisa and William Davis Early Michigan Pioneers

Michigan; United States

manager.php, rid has wrong format
The family history of this Michigan pioneer quilt and its maker, Louisa Prudden Davis, provides a glimplse into the life of individuals in the early period of Michigan statehood.

Both the Pruden (sometimes referred to as Prudden) and Davis families homesteaded in Michigan in the early decades of the nineteenth century. The Michigan town of Prudenville was named after this pioneering family. Louisa Pruden was born November 18, 1823, in Seneca County, New York, and married William Dennis Davis, who was born October 16, 1820. Together they had nine children and farmed land in Riley Township, located in Clinton County. According to Viriginia Newman, the quilt owner and great-granddaughter of the piecer:
[Louisa] made this quilt by candlelight during nights when she could not sleep...Her husband helped clear the land for the [Michigan] capitol building. So that would have been around 1838, I guess. He did it so he could get money to buy staples for his family. He walked home through the woods carrying a 50-pound sack of flour and a 50-pound sack of sugar. He was gone most of that winter. While he was away, she was left alone in their log cabin, which had only an animal skin for a door. At night she brought their calf and pig into the house and put firebrands out the door all night to keep the wolves away.

It is thought that Davis made many quilts, but only this one survives. When Davis gave it to her daughter, Rachel Louysa Davis, it had been pieced but not quilted. In 1972, Virginia Newman, who had inherited the quilt top from her grandmother Rachel, attached the back and quilted it.

Written by MacDowell, Marsha (1987)

MacDowell, Marsha and Fitzgerald, Ruth, ed. Michigan Quilts: 150 Years of a Textile Tradition, Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, MI, 1987, page

Michigan State University Museum


  • Michigan Quilt Project

    Documentation Project

    Michigan State University

  • 1972

    Postage Stamp

    Davis, Louisa

Load More