PEKIN, Ill. — Pekin resident Jan Frazier, a quilt enthusiast, never thought much of her grandmother’s large patchwork quilt while she was growing up.
All she knew was that it’s old and made of velvet lining used for coffins. It’s heavy, too, so most of the time it was kept in a cedar chest.
“I used it for a while on my bed and a couple times in the winter,” Frazier said.
It wasn’t until she showed it to a community quilting group on Christmas in 2011 when she realized the quilt might be something special.
The group was in awe of the unusual crosshatch stitching and fabric, which indicated it was very old. Frazier took one group member’s suggestion of investigating the quilt’s origin.
At that point, Frazier didn’t know that the hand-pieced creation passed down from her grandmother in the 1960s would spark the rejoining of a family descended from three sisters of 19th century Pekin.
Frazier, an author who has written about her family roots before, started investigating the quilt by using what she knew, visiting funeral homes and upholstery experts to find out when and where it came from.
She found out the quilt’s material was more than 100 years old, and it had an unusual style that even surprised the experts.
Frazier also showed her quilt to a certified quilt appraiser, Sandy Schweitzer, who listed it at $750.
Schweitzer stated in her report that the quilt was unusual and wrote in a letter to Frazier that the quilt was probably the heaviest she has ever appraised.
While Frazier was investigating the quilt in summer 2012, the Pekin Daily Times ran a story about her “One crazy quilt,” and that’s when events really started happening.
Diane Ayers, a Huntley resident who has relatives in the Peoria area, saw the article online and realized Frazier’s quilt was similar to one she owned.