AMHERST QUILTERS GUILD HISTORY
The Guild was formed as the result of quilt classes that were held in Old Amherst Colony Museum Park at 500 Smith Road, East Amherst, NY. At the time, the Museum was an historical organization of the Town of Amherst. Dr. Andrea Shaw, the town historian, was the first director of the Museum. She passed away in July 1993.
In 1974, Dr. Shaw asked Pauline Krafft, a 75 year old quilt maker from the town, to teach a class in quilting for the Museum. Note: Mrs. Krafft was the grandmother of the husband of Mary Ann Krafft, our 2013-2014 Guild president. In that first class there were about 8 – 10 participants. Alice Bachraty had been asked by Dr. Shaw to assist Pauline with the class. Pauline was adept at piecing fabric squares together into a quilt top and then tying the top and quilt batting to the backing with yarn or thread. In the first class, Alice displayed several of her quilts, both pieced and appliqued, which she also had finely hand quilted. Pauline had not made quilts of that caliber, and promptly stated that she was not teaching the class, Alice Bachraty would be teaching. Needless to say, Alice was speechless. She had no training in teaching and was reluctant to teach. However, Pauline prevailed and the first semester of classes was launched.
After the series of several classes had finished, the participants were “hooked” on quilting, and wished to continue. A second semester of classes was held, and more participants joined. At the end of this series Alice stated that she had taught all she knew and had to conclude the instruction. Class members, now bonafide “quilters”, wished to continue to hone their new found skills. Therefore, in March 1975 the Old Amherst Colony Quilters Guild was born! Original members included: Alice Bachraty, president; Grace Bonk; Margie Carlson; Maureen Collura; Norma Jeanne Dowd; Jean Fisch; HerthaGaney; Helen Hoffman; Judith Honecker; June Howland; Linda Hunter, treasurer; Fran Isackson; Carolyn Johnson,secretary and Newsletter Editor; Virginia Johnson; Elizabeth Jones; Pauline Krafft; Sally Miller and Diana Parkes, the textile curator at the Museum.
Projects that year included a raffle quilt, designed by Alice, to earn money for the fledgling guild. It was the Friendship Dahlia pattern – 15 dahlia blocks, made with multi-colored scrap fabrics on a white background, set with brown sashing and yellow cornerstones, and hand quilted. The first Quilting Seminar was held on November 22nd, 1975. Also during that year, the Guild produced a magnificent Bi-Centennial Quilt with Elizabeth Jones as designer and chair, and with Alice Bachraty guiding us. Now stored at the Museum, it contains 10 appliqued blocks depicting milestones in the history of our country: for example the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Erie-Barge Canal, Women’s Suffrage (with appliqued lace from 1920), Atom Bomb, Integration and the first Man on the Moon. In the center is an eagle embroidered with 1776 – 1976, and the border contains 50 appliqued stars with the Bi-Centennial logo embroidered in each corner. Those stars were a challenge for all of the novice quilt makers. In our first quilt show at the Old Amherst Colony Museum Park in May 1976, the quilts for viewing were draped over chairs which were placed upon tables in the main building.
Over the years we have welcomed new members and have lost those who moved to other parts of the country, or departed this earth. In honor of our first deceased member, Catherine Oles, who joined the Guild in June 1975, we present an award at our quilt show for a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt that is made in the traditional manner in which Catherine made her many GFG quilts.
In 1981, when the Museum moved to its present location on Tonawanda Creek Road and New Road in East Amherst, and changed its name to Amherst Museum at Old Colony Park, the Guild became Amherst Museum Quilters Guild. And in 2013 our name changed again to Amherst Quilters Guild when the Museum became Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village.