THE JAM FARM – Michigan Beauty
In the early morning hours of April 12, 1861, Confederate artillery fired the first shot of the Civil War at Charleston, South Carolina, a signal event that touched the lives of almost every person living in the United States at that time. The Nation’s capital located in the southern state of Maryland seemed threaten as both sides prepared for war. President Lincoln proclaimed, “Thank God for Michigan,” when he was told of the arrival of the fully clothed and armed 1st Michigan Volunteers, one of the first northern regiments to arrive. Michigan contributed over 90,000 soldiers or 23 percent of the male population to the military during the war.
This quilt block the “Michigan Beauty” was a part of a quilt called the Loyal Union Sampler. Put together by many women as a way to cover their loved ones with a piece of home. Women expressed their feeling through quilts that were symbols of mourning used to bury soldiers, signals for the Underground Railroad and especially as a way to raise funds for the war effort. They could not vote or own property yet some very determined women disguised their gender and enlisted as soldiers. Sarah Edmonds from near Pontiac, Michigan was a notable example.
The current owners adopted this quilt square pattern to recognize the family who settled this property and James Gieleghem had the privilege of painting this art object. Jacob Meisenheimer immigrated to the United States when he was just nine years old and later migrated to Summit Township in Mason County in 1852. The corner of Pere Marquette Highway and Meisenheimer Road is marked “Meisenheimer Corners” on many maps. He was very active in raising money for the war. This barn was erected by Henry Meisenheimer, first born of Jacob.
The symbolism of the quilt square “Michigan Beauty” and its direct connection to military service has deep meaning for James and Lois Gieleghem, owners of this farm. Jim was a member of the United States Marine Corps and Lois served in our country’s Air Force.