Elizabeth Thorn

In Gettysburg, most people know about Jenny Wade. She was shot while baking bread for soldiers outside her sisters house.  But the one women people should know more about, have never heard of her. Her name is Elizabeth Thorn.

Elizabeth Thorn moved to Gettysburg from Germany in 1854. Shortly after this she married Peter Thorn. Peter Thorn was the superintendent of the Evergreen Cemetery and was living in the gatehouse. Peter enlisted in the Union army in 1862.



On June 26, 1863 Confederate Cavalry troops arrived at the gatehouse to Evergreen cemetery demanding  to be fed. They had bragged to Elizabeth about killing a Union militia man nearby and would not rape her “like the yankeys did to their ladies,” she later wrote. The mention of rape would have only made her more nervous as a woman living alone.

After the Confederates moved on, the fighting started on July 1st west of her home. Union General O.O. Howard’s staff officer stopped by her home and asked if there was a man home to guide him along the unfamiliar roads so that he could speed the Union reinforcements marching to confront the Confederates. Elizabeth volunteered. The man said he could not accept her help since the roads were under fire but she insisted as there were no other men to help. As she guided him along the road, the troops cheered at her courage as they saw her pass.

As the  Union XI Corps(made up mostly of Germans) moved past her home and then had to retreat back after Barlows knoll. Elizabeth cooked dinner for the Corps commander, O.O. Howard, and his German general Carl Schurz that night.

The fighting was centered around the gatehouse on July 2nd and the Thorns had to evacuate their home. Elizabeth and her three small sons returned home on July 7th. Their home and the grounds were transformed from what it once had been. The air in Gettysburg was putrid and the heat did nothing to help. In her garden were seventeen dead men and 34 dead horses. The gatehouse floors were covered in blood from when it was a makeshift hospital.


Elizabeth and her elderly father personally buried at least 100 Union soldiers, lets remember she was five months pregnant. This exertion damaged her heath and she believed caused the baby that she had months later to die as a teen. Peter Thorn returned home after his service and when he died in 1907, he was hailed as a true American citizen. It wasn’t until 2002 Elizabeth was  recognized for her contribution. She is still relatively unknown.


Dolly Sized 1860’s Day Caps

When we dress in our 1860’s clothing we put on everything from undergarments to shoes to headwear. Girls dressed their dolls in the same manner in the 19th century! Sometimes these wardrobe items were handmade by the girl herself or her mother. Sometimes a nurse or nanny made them. Sometimes they were store bought as in the case with many French fashion doll wardrobes.

In my shop right now I have four different day caps. Two of these are for 18″ China head doll’s and two are for 14-16″ doll. I used a few different laces on them. Cotton heirloom laces and silk ribbons adorn these caps. The bases are made out of cotton and silk nettings.

The following links will take you to the shop:





Bye for now!

1864 Childs Confederate Flag Printed Jacket

Some of my favorite doll projects are finding original garments or fashion plates and copying them. Sometimes I run into the fact that a certain trim does not exist or its just impossible to make THAT tiny but most of the time I am able to achieve my goal.

Two years ago my boyfriend had fabric custom printed for me based on fabric that was used for multiple garments during the Civil War. It is a brown wool with printed  crossed Confederate flags. This fabric was produced in England and shipped through the blockade to the south. Two men’s shirts and two children’s jackets are known to exist today that were made during the war years. There is one dress that was made in the 1880s as well. In talking to Colleen Formby (who has done research into this particular fabric and patriotic aprons), garments during the Civil War made from this fabric would mainly be children’s and men’s garments. The one dress that was made in the 1880’s was more of a remembrance piece.

Todays post will be focusing on the child’s jacket I reproduced. I will be doing a separate post on the other garments because they are too awesome not to!

Now on to the details!

The original was wool but the copy is cotton. Due to limitations in technology, the printing wouldn’t be as crisp and sharp on wool in this scale. So I opted for cotton. This fabric was scaled to fit my 12″ dolls perfectly.  I also used brown polished cotton to line the jacket like the original.

The buttons on the original are ringer china buttons with an orange ring around the edge. The button I used was a plain china to imitate the button tab closure at the neck. I did not make teeny tiny button holes though. I used a snap on one side of the tab closure and the other side of the tab is sewn to the jacket. This makes it easier for  dressing and undressing, as well as wear and tear in that area.  This is not a period correct solution but I tend to go with this closure due to ease of use.

The original had two rows of  brown(?) trim and red tape on all the edges of the jacket. My copy will as soon as it comes in the mail!

This garment comes with an awesome story too! This was made by Mrs. P. B. Chambers of Statesville, NC for her five year old son in 1864. The fabric was purchased for $48 a yard in 1864, today it would cost around $500 a yard! I am not sure if the 1864 price is quoted in Confederate dollars or US but still the price is astronomical. The fabric itself was manufactured in England and went through the blockade to get to the South. It is noted that when this jacket was worn in the presence of Federal soldiers in Salisbury,NC, it was commented on severely. This garment was a political statement.

So now that I have gave you all the details on the garments, here they are!

The original:

My copy(sans trim):

If you are interested in purchasing this garment for your doll follow this link.

And if you are interested in looking closer at the original garment follow this link.

Historical Doll Quilting: Hawaiian Edition

I have fallen down a rabbit hole. OK so I fall down different rabbit holes every few weeks but this one is completely out in left field.

Hawaiian quilts.

Yep, I decided one of my dolls needed a Hawaiian quilt. Normally my approach to doll quilts are “anything goes” within reason. Color, pattern, etc. etc. Some types of quilts need to be specific in design and color. I have seen quilts made for Kwanzaa and those have particular symbols and motifs. The other area I have noticed particular motifs in, Hawaiian quilts.

Mr. Wikipedia says this about Hawaiian quilts:

“A Hawaiian quilt is a distinctive quilting style of the Hawaiian Islands that uses large radially symmetric applique patterns. Motifs often work stylized botanical designs in bold colors on a white background. Hawaiian quilt applique is made from a single cut on folded fabric. Quilting stitches normally follow the contours of the applique design.

Quilting may have begun in the Hawaiian islands with the arrival of missionaries and Western fabrics in the 1820s. The climate of Hawaii is unsuitable for cotton cultivation and kapa is unsuitable for quilting so all Hawaiian quilts are constructed from imported material. The earliest written reference comes from Isabella Bird who visited Hawaii in 1870 and wrote a travelogue Six Months in the Sandwich Islands.  ”

Thank you Mr. Wikipedia!

The doll I am making this for inhabits the world of 1941 aka during WWII. When I saw the “quilt”(I use that term loosely in this case) that the company I bought her from designed for her, I wasn’t impressed. It looked like something you could buy from Pottery Barn teens. So I told myself I could make a better one and so far I have!

Now I can say that I DID cut my designs on the fold but  I DID NOT do it with one cut. This was my first ever applique project and I wasn’t putting that kind of pressure on myself. Also the color of fabric I choose for this quilt was one from my stash……..I want it gone! Seriously I do. So I am not sure if the color is 100% correct for these quilts.

First I traced out my design a million times (seemed like it) onto Heat n bond. Yep I cheated. Again this was my first project and I wanted to enjoy the process. This part of the process was easy yet time consuming. Then I positioned the appliques onto the white background fabric ( I just used mid grade white muslin, I had it in my stash). Next was ironing and following the directions on the package.

After adhering the design to the top, I sandwiched my batting and backing together, the same way you would a normal quilt. I use huge quilting safety pin thingy’s to keep my layers from traveling while I am quilting it.

When I first started this project, I thought that you just quilted around the designs and then  voila! your done. Nope……….. Turns out that you do quilting lines around the contours of the designs until the whole background is quilted. This is the part I am at.

So here is my progress shot! Until next time!

A Trip to visit the David Wills House

On July 1st through the 3rd of 1863, Gettysburg was pushed into the nations spotlight.  This three day battle resulted in 46,000 and 51,000 casualties between the two armies.  In a town that only had 2,390 residents, this was a huge burden. In the months after the battle the population had the arduous task of burying the dead. The problem was not only the amount of dead that needed to be buried but where to bury them. This leads to the creation of the National Cemetery.

At the for front of this effort is David Wills, a Gettysburg lawyer. He suggested that the cemetery be one for the public instead of a private cemetery. As the plans for this came together, David Wills house became the meeting place for the planning if this endeavor.

November of 1863, only  three months after the battle, President Abraham Lincoln arrived in Gettysburg to deliver his famous “Gettysburg Address”. He wrote his final draft the night before while staying at the Wills house. You can still walk through the bedroom where he wrote this!

This summer from June 9th to August 12th there is free admission to this museum. Its a great museum and in the heat of the summer is a perfect way to spend the afternoon. Two days ago Samantha and I visited the David Wills House instead of melting outdoors. I learned so much!

If you are interested in learning more about this site please visit the David Wills House!

History Meets the Arts Weekend 2018

img_6539On the weekend of June 8,9 and 10th, Lord Nelsons Gallery hosted ” History Meets the Arts weekend” at Gettysburg College. In attendance were artists ranging from painters to sculpture’s to artisans making trunks and pottery!

Its so much easier to show you than to try and describe the beautiful artwork we saw……so here you go!







We bought a bandbox for one of my bonnets and the cutest “Ugly” jug!


Until next time!

Bathing Beauty Dolls

07It seems whenever the monster known as depression hits hard in my life (which it has been a lot lately) dolls and there fantasy world come galloping in to help me through it. So I thought today I would share another love of mine, bathing beauty dolls. These dolls are beautiful and risqué; what could be a better combination?

These dolls started to be produced around the early 1900s into the 1920s. Some had clothes painted/molded on, some had fabric or lace glued to them as clothing. I have seen some with mohair and some with painted/molded on hair. Basically, there is something for everyone! I tend to like the ones in undergarments since that is something I collect in full size vintage clothing. Here are some great examples of bathing beauty dolls:

And to end this little post, I present to you a bathing beauty doing what I can only figure is interpretive dance? Whatever she is doing, she is looking good while doing it!

The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1865

war outside

I normally do not review books (mainly because I read too many books and don’t have time to review them) but this one is special. This book is a diary from a boy that lived in Macon, GA during the civil war and wrote about everything! His name is Leroy Gresham. He wrote about his injury (that left him an invalid), the comings and goings in his house, everyday chit chat and the war itself. There is a little bit of everything for everyone in this diary. What does this mean to you? This means you can read a war years diary and focus on what interests you. Some diary’s I have read in the past focus on one subject or another but this one has something for everyone!

I will admit I have not finished reading this book yet. It has been my go to book this past two weeks to read during downtime at work and we haven’t had much of that. Normally I read much faster but reading this slower has given me the chance to savor all the little details. Some of the details that fascinated me was when he talked about Christmas presents, everyday presents of food and his appetite for reading. Leroy was given so many presents of food on a weekly basis! You can get a feel for what types of fruit(and sweets!)were available in his area of the country too. He mentions many times receiving cantaloupes. I have been studying the Civil War for most of my life and had not realized that they had cantaloupes (though I’m not a food historian by any means!). He also talks about the quantities of peaches his family receives. That should come as no surprise as peaches as a staple in Georgia even today.

The diary spans from 1860 to Leroy’s death in 1865. It is sad that as you read this dairy you can see his heath deteriorating but through it all he maintains his good spirits and sunny outlook. If you are interested in reading this diary I will link it below as well as the book that is all about his medical condition. The editor has done a fabulous job on this book and we hope to see her do more in the future!

The War Outside my Window

I am Perhaps Dying

Origins of Memorial Day

Memorial Day officially started in 1868 as “Decoration Day”. General John A Logan, the Commander in Chief of The Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,”. This specific date was chosen since it was not an anniversary of any battle.

By 1890 all states had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Southern states did not honor their dead on the same day until after WWI. Eventually Decoration Day was becoming known as Memorial Day. It was first called this in 1882. In 1968, it was officially made the last Monday in May to make a three-day weekend for federal employees. This finally went into full effect in 1971.

Our group The Civilians of Gettysburg, does an 1860’s Decoration Day ceremony in front of the soldier’s monument at the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, PA. We do poetry readings, talk about the origins of the holiday, and sing a few hymns. Sadly, I did not get any photos of the ceremony since we like to keep modern devices out of the public view for events. But we did get photos afterwards in the cemetery.

Have a fun weekend and remember to honor those who have fought for our freedom.

Civil War Battle’s with Cats!


Yesterday It was a beautiful day and I actually had some free time(gasp!). I decided to take a walk since the weather was so nice and I ended up at an fun and offbeat attraction Gettysburg called ” Civil War Tails at The Homestead Diorama Museum”. If you like cats, the civil war, history or dioramas you will love this place! I figured this museum would have beautiful dioramas and the rest would be ok. The rest being the tour portion.

I was partially wrong.

The museum does have beautiful Dioramas. But Rebecca (one of the sisters who gave me a tour) was knowledgeable beyond what I find in most museums! As I was looking at the dioramas, she was regaling me with the history of every scene and going into technical detail on how they were constructed! I was blown away. Right now this is a very small museum but they are working to expand right now.

So now for the important details:

This museum is run by two sisters Ruth and Rebecca Brown. They are both awesome!

There are a grand total of 8,500 cats in the museum but *only* 6,000 are on display in the dioramas. That’s a lot of cats. Rebecca told me it takes her only 7 minutes to make one cat. If she is sculpting a horse with a cat rider that takes 1 hour and 15 minutes.  That’s impressive.

And there is only one dog in the museum:


There are 3 huge dioramas and many small ones. Currently they are in the process of making Little round top.

Now I will leave you with the photos and the website to get more information on this wonderful attraction!