Search for old quilt-maker leads to lost family history

By Vanesa Brashier,

A Texas woman’s search for a quilt-maker from Cleveland, Texas, has gone full circle with her learning that the quilt was made by distant cousins.

On Saturday, Brenda Cargle, 58, of Inez, Texas, posted a message on Facebook that said, “This is a long shot but I found this quilt that has a lady’s name from Cleveland, Texas. Would anyone out there know her? I found this at my deceased grandmother’s house in Alabama.”

Before long, the Facebook post had been shared by thousands of people in the hopes of reconnecting the quilt with family members of the two women – Tullia Nelson of Cleveland and Audie Gideons of LaPorte – who pieced the quilt top.

Cargle said Sunday that she was given the unfinished quilt top two years ago when she visited relatives in Alabama.

“They know I like quilting, so they gave them to me. I brought home the two quilt tops and finished them. I tried to Google the two names for more information but didn’t find anything,” Cargle said.

Her social media search led to help from strangers, like a woman named Lori Alexander, who used to search for Tullia Nelson and Audie Gideon. The search found a 1940 reference in the U.S. Census that said Nelson lived in Cleveland during 1935. She was born in February 1909 to Robert Gideon and Ida E. Stanton. In 1920, Tullia lived in Baldwin County, Ala. She died in March 1967. The second quilter, Audie, was Tullia’s older sister. She died in March 1992. Both sisters are buried at Wilson Cemetery Spanish Fort in Baldwin County.

“This morning, when I shared this information with my dad, who is 87, he said that he remembers their names. They were cousins. They lived in Texas from 1935-1940 and moved back to Alabama. They lived down the road from my grandmother,” Cargle said.

Cargle said the ancestry information brought back a lot of memories for her dad, Milton Shambo of Victoria Texas. His mom was a Stanton.

“For an 87-year-old, this has all been overwhelming,” she said.

Cargle still plans to find the descendants of Tullia and Audie to return the quilt, but now she has a pretty good idea of where to start.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.


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