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Love of history, genealogy inspires collection

Local woman's antique quilts on display
By: Gloria Beverage, Placer Herald Editor
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Carol Gebel not only collects antique quilts, she also searches out the history of the maker. A resident of Rocklin since 1996, Gebel owns 150 antique quilts from the 19th and 20th centuries. Thirty of the quilts from Gebel’s collection will go on display today in the library at California State University, Sacramento. The quilts will remain in the Library Gallery and Special Collections area through Dec. 20. Gebel’s interest in quilts may have been piqued, when at age 16, she received a quilt featuring the Dresden Plate pattern made by her paternal grandmother. Years later, she received two more quilts made by her grandmother. “I saw fabrics totally differently from what I had seen before – the colors and designs.” Over the years, she began buying quilts at antique stores or at quilt festivals, acquiring primarily 19th and 20th Century American quilts. Not only does she collect antique quilts, but Gebel has also used her expertise in genealogy research to track the history of the quilt maker. “I have quilts and I know who made them,” she said. “This is history you won’t find in history books.” Through a genealogy search, for example, Gebel has learned that one of the quilts in her collection was made by Mary Mann, who lived in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Her husband, John Wesley Mann, was a shoemaker for the Pennsylvania School for Feeble-Minded Children. “They lived there with their son,” Gebel said. ”I’m trying to find out more about her life.” In fact, each of the quilts on display at Sac State will have captions that relate the history of the maker. Gebel, who retired from her job as a cataloger in the library at Sac State earlier this year, is looking forward to creating more quilts of her own. A member of the American Quilters Study Group and the Folsom Quilt Group, Gebel has made quilts for her children and grandchildren. Some of the designs are traditional patterns, while others are new designs mixing different patterns and colors. She also believes the research she has done on 19th Century quilt makers may result in a book. “Quilting is my passion,” she concedes. ________ Know and Go Artistry of the Traditional Quilt When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays – Saturdays Where: Library Gallery, California State University, Sacramento Piecing the Past Together: 19th Century Quilts When: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays – Fridays through Dec. 20 Where: Library Special Collections, California State University, Sacramento Admission free, however, campus parking fee applies