Knauss Homestead Artifacts
The Knauss Quilt
Elizabeth Knauss Thomas, PHD, from Boston, Massachusetts has donated a quilt from the late 1800’s stitched by a group of ladies in Bethlehem for her Grandmother as a wedding present. Ms. Thomas is a direct descendant of Sebastian Knauss, one of the founders of Emaus, thru his son Abraham. This gorgeous family heirloom is on display at the Knauss Homestead.
She wrote …
“Daniel Webster Knauss was born November 8, 1871 into the fourth generation after Sebastian Heinrich Knauss. He was the eighth of 11 children born to John H. Knauss (b. 1829,) and Sarah Elizabeth (Boyer).
‘Web,’ as D.W. was known, became a master machinist, and was considered to be quite a success, and a dashing figure in his immediate adoption of all things vehicular, from bicycles to the earliest automobiles. He married Elizabeth Thomas, the oldest daughter of Welsh immigrants, on October 15th, 1896, in the presence of Rev. James A. Little in Fullerton. Pa.
Elizabeth would tell us that her father-in-law John H. Knauss, gave her 3 wedding presents: a huge, ornately bound, illustrated bible, also a ball bearing rolling pin, and a cabbage scraper that he made himself. She also received a coin silver spoon with an initial B from Sarah Elizabeth Boyer’s heirlooms. But by our contemporary standards Elizabeth’s best wedding present was an extraordinary handmade, pieced and decoratively quilted bedspread.
Because we never know the right questions to ask our elders, we don’t know if that was from her mother-in law and her husband’s sisters, or from her own family, or whether it was made by a church quilting group, as many modern quilts are still made. What we do know is that quilt is more than 120 years old, and always in use on Elizabeth’s bed until she died at age 94. Until the last five years, when it was retired because of noticeable aging wear, that quilt continued to be used by her granddaughter, Elizabeth, as a summer bedspread.
The Knauss Quilt is now retired to the only place it should be, the Knauss Homestead, under the knowledgeable preservation of a gifted caretaker. The Quilt in the Homestead bedroom, will be companioned, as in its previous home life, by that other wedding gift, the sauerkraut shredder made by John H. Knauss. It is now in the Homestead kitchen. It gives me great pleasure to bestow these venerable family treasures on the Knauss Homestead, where they will long outlast their 21st Century temporary possessors.”
The Knauss Homestead Preservation Society received a Dower Chest from the 18th Century. This was purchased and donated by a direct descendant of Sebastian Knauss, Army Captain Damon Knauss. Since a career Army soldier requires frequent moves, Captain Knauss felt the safest place for this treasure was the Knauss Homestead. In addition, he commissioned a 20×30″ oil-based painting of the Knauss Coat of Arms that is beautifully framed and on display at the Knauss Homestead. Thank you for your donation and for your service to our Country.
A Dower Chest is another name for a Pennsylvania Dutch Hope Chest, usually bearing the initials of the owner. Our Pennsylvania Dower Chest may stem from the 1700s when a young woman would store her prized works of seamstress artistry in the form of quilts, blankets, household items and family heirlooms. These works would be kept safely in the “Aus schteier Kischt” (dower chest), also known as the hope chest or blanket chest, until the time she married when the chest would be carried on a horse drawn wagon to her new home. In the 18th century, Pennsylvania Dutch craftsmen would create these chests for their daughters with fine craftsmanship and often a decorative painting or carving.