Story Mills Quilt

Story Mills Flour Sack Quilt

My husband’s great, great, great grandfather Nelson Story was an entrepreneur and cattleman in the early west. He came to Alder Gulch Montana in 1863 and made his fortune during the Montana Gold Rush. In 1866 his claim paid off and he went to New York to trade in his gold for greenbacks, $30,000 worth of gold turned into $40,000 cash as gold was at a premium after the Civil War. He used the money to buy a cattle herd in Texas and moved them to Montana. This became the longest cattle drive in American history from Texas to Montana, which a century later would inspire author Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Lonesome Dove.”

Besides a cattle operation near Livingston in Paradise Valley, Story had a pea packing plant, the third largest bank in Montana and a flour milling business. The flour-milling complex was the biggest in Montana established in 1882. According to Story’s grandson Malcolm Story, “The mill was the biggest-paying business and hired more men for 50 years than any business in the valley.”

This quilt is made from a reproduction of a flour sack I found in the barn at Story Ranch, the original ranch of Nelson Story. My mother-in-law gave it to me because I’ve always loved feed sack art and old timey product designs. I cleaned it up, took a picture of it and had it professionally printed at Spoonflower. The colors are more orange and aqua from the original patriotic red, white and blue, but I like the vibrancy. The colors also happened to match the fabrics I’m working with. I didn’t sweat it that the colors weren’t authentic. This is a unique one of kind high quality cotton patchwork baby quilt that can be used by any baby looking for a conversation piece.

For more about Nelson Story, here’s an article from the Bozeman Chronicle. To see the quilt I made that appeared in the movie “Return to Lonesome Dove” here’s a link to that blog post.