MARIE D. WEBSTER
ROCKY ROAD TO KANSAS is a four-patch star pieced like a Crazy Quilt, with scraps fit into the points in every which way (see Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, #2979, also Beyer, p. 65).
The design debuted in the Ladies Art Company Catalog #236, in the late 19th century. The basic outline of the star is identical to the famous TIPPECANOE pattern, the name derived from the American political expression, "Tippecanoe and Tyler too." (Notice below there is a secondary star formed in the tiling pattern). Beth Gutcheon suggests an interesting connection between the very different block names (see "The Perfect Patchwork Primer," p. 32):
"The block called TIPPECANOE (there are lots of blocks named for historical events) is similar to the block called ROCKY ROAD TO KANSAS, suggesting perhaps that while half the people worried about Harrison beating Tyler, the rest were wondering how soon the covered wagon would break another axle."
By "break an axle," Gutcheon is referring to the early American pioneers and their hardships. Marie D. Webster (see left) in her magnificent book, QUILTS, THEIR STORY AND HOW TO MAKE THEM, published in 1915 (full text at Gutenberg), states the following:
"The hardships and vicissitudes endured by the sturdy pioneers were constantly in the minds of the early American quilters and inspired many names. 'Pilgrim’s Pride,' 'Bear’s Paws,' 'Rocky Road to Kansas,' 'Texas Tears,' and 'Rocky Road to California' have great interest as they reveal to us the thoughts of our great-grandmothers over their quilting frames."
Compare at this site with ROAD TO OKLAHOMA and KENTUCKY CROSSROADS and other pioneer or traveling themes including:
OH! SUSANNAH ("Going to Louisiana")
ROAD TO TENNESSEE
(A) WINDING TRAIL