FROM RAGS TO RICHES
Portal to the Past Dudley Farm’s Annual Quilt Day & Antique Show Offers a Taste of Old Florida
by Peggy Macdonald photography by Ericka Winterrowd
ust as the Historic Haile Homestead in Gainesville is known for its “talking walls,” Dudley Farm Historic State Park is associated with its “talking quilts.” Throughout American history, quilts have been used not only to keep warm, but also to communicate. According to oral tradition, quilts contained secret codes that helped runaway slaves ﬁnd their way to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Quilts have also been used for social causes ranging from AIDS awareness and memorials to protests against the devastating effects of the use of DDT and other pesticides on Lake Apopka farmworkers and the environment. At Dudley Farm, located in Newberry, historic quilts from the Dudley collection are on display in the visitor center and inside the Dudleys’ farmhouse. Each quilt tells a unique story about what life was like in the past. Quilting is an art form born out of necessity. Just as the European settlers who ﬁrst came to America could not afford to discard scraps of clothing or other materials, homesteaders who came to Florida before the Civil War made use of every piece of cloth they owned in order to conserve resources. This led to the creation of pieced or patchwork quilts that blended cut pieces of cloth from a variety of sources. The pieces were cut into strips that were sewn together to form a variety of patterns.