A New Use for Quilts

Today in east central Iowa, the temperature won’t get above 0°F. My son emailed from Oklahoma, where it is windy and not much warmer, unusually cold for his location. His gas company sent a notice asking residential customers to reset their thermostats to 60-65° during the day and even colder at night, because of unusually high demand for fuel. Brrrr!

We are all lucky, though, and can stay in where it’s safe and cozy, tucked under quilts to keep warm.

A creative person might think of a different use for quilts on a windy, cold day. Jim stumbled on this anecdote as he was researching genealogy sources for western Illinois:

Thomas Camp, in 1849, settled near where the present town of Good Hope is situated. All north of him for many miles was one vast, unbroken wilderness, with not a house or dwelling of any kind, and also perfectly void of timber. A few winters after his settlement upon the prairie, there came a heavy fall of snow, and upon the top of that a sleet of rain, which freezing, formed a solid crust on top, and over which a man could walk or slide. Mr. Camp thought he would have a good sleigh ride; so taking a sled out several miles from his house, and rigging it up with quilts for sails, he jumped in, and there being a brisk northwest wind, he was soon sailing over the prairies. The wind being so strong he could not lower his sails, although in a measure he was able to direct his course, and therefore, on arriving at home, he could not stop, but run into an out-house, wrecking his prairie schooner and almost losing his life. He never tried the experiment again, although he declared it was a perfect success.*

So if you get a notion to go outside and you have a sled, a quilt, and a broad stretch of icy landscape, you could give it a try, too!

*Source: History of McDonough County, Illinois, Its Cities, Towns, and Villages with Early Reminiscences, Personal Incidents and Anecdotes, and a Complete Business Directory of the County, by S. J. Clarke, published in 1878, page 593. Extracted 30 Jul 2016 by Norma Hass. Via this link https://mcdonough.illinoisgenweb.org/1878remicamp.html


20 thoughts on “A New Use for Quilts

  1. Kerry

    LOL! Great story – the need for speed in those days! I can imagine the thrill except for the outhouse looming up fast! Last winter I purchased a sledge. I should have bought a dinghy. This year it still hasn’t been used (yet) as the snow resembled tiny polystyrene balls dusted around a bit. Not enough to bother with my quilt ruler to measure it!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      We’re getting our share of snow this year. Right now it’s too cold to go out and enjoy it. Between the cold and the covid restrictions, I’ve been home more than I prefer.

  2. shoreacres

    What a tale! And, for once, that kind of sailing could be done all across Texas, given our sleet, freezing rain, and snow. Not me, though. If I’m going to make use of a quilt in below freezing temperatures, I’m going to wrap it around me. We’re being asked to set thermostats at 68, which is more than reasonable, but I sure am hoping the ice doesn’t bring down the power lines!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, loss of power is one of the greatest risks and I hope there is very little of that. Son said his area had a bit of dry powder snow but it wasn’t much and it wasn’t a problem. He also admitted to missing real winters like he grew up with. 🙂

  3. tierneycreates: a fusion of textiles and smiles

    I love reading the history you share on your blog! I have been snuggled under quilts past several days as we are struggling to get about 0 degrees F also. I think our high today is -2 degrees F. Unfortunately I’ve trained my dog to only poop on a walk (he does not poop in the backyard) so he must be walked in this weather twice a day – yikes! Sorry it is so cold in Iowa and OK. We are trying to be good and not go beyond 67 degrees for the thermostat during the day and keep it at 60 at night. Much lower at night and it is difficult to reheat the house in the am.


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