Quilt Center Square

History of the Quilt


Project Description

Evaluations of Accomplishments

Future Plans for the Project

Proposal Letter

Request to Commissioners

Biographies by Homemakers Clubs

Biographies by Friends of the Library


The Quilt Center Square


The center circle of the Harnett County Historical Quilt was designed by Paul Soublet, artist for most of the other quilt squares, and embroidered and appliquéd by Mary Jane Matthews, (Mrs. Alvis), a representative of the Friends of the Library.

The circle, with the design of Harnett County therein, covers four fifteen inch squares. Just inside the golden circle, at top left, is the name of the county, the year (top right) the county was formed, and the year (top right) the quilt was made.

Beneath the county name is a branch of blooming dogwood, North Carolina State flower, with a red bird (Cardinal, State Bird) perched on a branch overlapping the outer edge of the county. This map, outlined in black, shows the Cape Fear River running northwest to southeast, embroidered in blue, and other names of creeks, towns, and communities in black. Names of the sixteen Extension Homemakers Clubs are also in black, but their location is indicated by a red dot.

In the lower right quadrant inside the circle is an embroidered compass. The contributor’s name: Friends of the Library, lies inside the circle at its base.

Four names of historical importance are located outside the circle in each of the four quadrants. The name of Cornelius Harnett for whom the county was named, a Revolutionary War hero, who never set foot in Harnett, according to Malcolm Fowler, in They Passed This Way, is in the lower left corner. In the lower right, is the name of Alexander Lillington, for whom the county seat was named, also one who never came to the county.

The names of two outstanding women pioneers, who lived in the section that later became Harnett, grace the upper portion of the squares, Jennie Bahn McNeill, and Flora MacDonald.

Jennie Bahn McNeill, born Janet Smith, daughter of John Smith, from the Longstreet section of Cumberland County was known for her beauty, a trait that acquired her the name, Bahn, a Gaelic word for fair. She married Archibald McNeill of the Barbecue section of Harnett. Not only for her beauty, she "was known for her sprightliness, her wit, unusual talent for business, and was regarded as second to none in the Scottish settlement for energy of character, second only to Flora MacDonald." (1). Her name is in the upper left quadrant of the square. For more details see (3).

Flora MacDonald, whose name is in the upper right quadrant, was born in Scotland's Isle of Skye. She and her husband, Allan MacDonald, two sons and a daughter, came to America in August, 1774, landed in Brunswick near Wilmington, North Carolina, and were hopefully looking for better prosperity. Already an important person, she remained loyal to King George despite her embarkation. The family stopped shortly at Cross Creek for welcoming festivities before coming to live at Mount Pleasant (later called Cameron Hill) with her half-sister, Anna Bella MacDonald, with whom she lived for nine months. While there she was a regular attendant at Barbecue Presbyterian Church. Eventually her husband, Allan, found land for a home in what is now Montgomery County (then Anson).

The American Revolution broke before they could plant their first crop. For their loyalty to the King, Allan and son Alexander joined the Loyalist forces that were later captured by the Patriots at Moore's Creek Bridge and sent to New York as prisoners. Meanwhile, their home at Cross Creek was ransacked and Flora and son James fled to Moore County to make their home on Nick's Creek, on land owned by Kenneth Black, three miles from her daughter Anne's home at Glendale, near Carthage.

In 1778, Anne's husband, Alexander MacLeod, arrived under a flag of truce to take his wife and family, Flora and her son James, to New York to join her husband and son Alexander, who had been paroled. Later in the year, she, and family traveled to Nova Scotia where Allan was stationed with the Royal Highland Emigrants.

In 1779, all the family, except Allan, returned to London and to Scotland the following year, 1780. It was not until 1785 that Allan rejoined Flora, who was living with her daughter Anne MacLeod, at Dunvegan Castle. On the Isle of Skye, Allan and Flora spent the remainder of their lives.

She died March 4,1790, and Allan two years later, in 1792. "The greatness and appeal of Flora MacDonald lies not in what she did, but in what she was. She survives more as a symbol than a historical figure.” (2)


Written by: Evelyn Byrd

Quilt Coordinator

Sources: (1)      Page 123, Colorful Heritage: Documented, edited by Lt. Col. Victor E. Clark, Jr. USAF (RET) FSA SCOT

(2)      Page 36, Colorful Heritage: Documented, based on an Informal History of Barbecue and Bluff. Presbyterian Churches, by Rev. James Donald MacKenzie's 1969 Book:;-

(3)      Pages 40 to 43, They Passed This Way, written by Malcolm Fowler