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Barn Quilt Sightings on the Rise

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Barn quilt in Washburn Community.

A drive through the county reveals an up-tick in the presence of Barn Quilts. Barn Quilts are a single painted square of unique geometric quilt designs, usually mounted on the side of a barn.

History traces 'quilting' with fabric back to as early as 100 BC. Modern barn quilts, however, are attributed to a woman named Donna Sue Groves who originally aspired to paint an entire quilt and display it on her barn as a tribute to her mother's Appalachian heritage. No other evidence has been found that pre-dates Donna Sue and the Ohio Arts Council who first produced the 'Ohio Star' quilt square that appeared in Adams County in 2001. That barn quilt, along with many others painted by her friends and members of the council, adorn the barns in Ohio along a carefully planned 'trail'.

In 2015, the Rutherford Weekly published an article written by Allison Flynn, about Cliffside resident Amy Drum, when she decided to honor her great-great grandfather, Raleigh Rutherford Haynes. Haynes built Cliffside Mill which later became known as Cone Mills. "I felt like barn quilts would be a way to shed a light back on Cliffside," said Drum, following the decline of the textile industry. In that article, she described in great detail how she and her family painted the squares. Apparently, her inspirational effort spread out into the surrounding areas.

There are organizations all across the nation that have embraced the Barn Quilt Trail concept and you're likely to see them in almost any rural community. Over 7,000 documented barn quilts are part of organized trails; dozens (probably thousands) more are scattered throughout the countryside waiting to be discovered. In downtown Marion, almost every business features a barn quilt and many of those are designed specifically for that particular business. Here locally, 'Rutherford County Barn Quilts' meet periodically in Forest City to paint small squares. Others residents, out and about in our county, have painted their own. A nice relaxing afternoon drive around the county will reveal these 'tributes of pride' to our own heritage adding exclamation points to our already beautiful and breathtaking landscape.

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