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Four-star Pieced Quilt

about 1860

Made by Octavia Jerusha Mannakee Williams (1834-1897)

86 in. W x 93 in. L
10-11 stitches per inch

Gift of Elizabeth E. Guevara


Sandy Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland

Sandy Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland


The block format took quilt design in the mid-19th century, and Octavia Mannakee Williams created a complex version, with multiple stars in thirty-six blocks. Though not strictly symmetrical, the arrangement shows Octavia had a good eye for color and balance. The many prints were paired in aesthetically pleasing combinations and arranged to create a harmonious whole.


Octavia Mannakee married John Overton Williams in February, 1860, and lived in Washington, DC, and Montgomery County. The fabrics in the quilt date to about 1860, so perhaps it was one of the textiles she prepared for her marriage. Octavia’s sister, Mary, seven years older, received one of the album quilts in this exhibit in 1851.


Roller-printed and solid cottons; cotton filling and backing

Williams chose a restrained palette for her quilt. Green and dark red dressmaking prints typical of the 1860s dominate.

Octavia Mannakee

Octavia Mannakee with husband John Overton Williams. Image courtesy Elizabeth Guevara