Kathryn Mooney Wall holds up a photo of several quilt squares, including one with her name on it, from a nearly century old Friendship Quilt.

Kathryn Mooney Wall is a sprightly 94 years old and a treasure trove of history.

In her Shelby home off Grover Street, she has a photo sitting on the dresser in her bedroom of her as a small child sitting on her great-grandfather’s lap. He’s missing an arm in the photo and Wall said he lost it fighting in the Civil War. She has lived through the Great Depression and World War II and remembers blacking out the windows at her home in Earl during the war.

Wall spent the first five years of life in Alexander Mills in Rutherford County with aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins all around until the mill shut down, the family moved to Earl and her dad got a job as a traveling salesman selling Rawleigh products in four townships in and around Cleveland County.

“I’ve had a very fascinating life,” Wall said.

For the past year, Wall has been involved in a special project to preserve a piece of history that is nearly as old as she is and contains ties to the Golden Valley community in Bostic.

Forty years ago, after her aunt passed away, Wall discovered a quilt that had been kept stored in a cedar chest. She found her maiden name – Kathryn Mooney – stitched in bold black cursive into the fabric along with 24 other women.

She was able to determine that the quilt, called a Friendship Quilt – was made around the time she was born in 1929 and contained a history rich as the colors of the dresses that made up the 25 squares of the quilt. Those 25 women – friends, family, and community members – had come together in a home in Golden Valley to stitch together the squares of fabric. 

Wall knew she wanted the quilt to be displayed where others could see it, and it would be preserved.

After a year of searching for a home for the nearly 100-year-old heirloom, it is now hanging up at the Golden Valley Community Club on Jonestown Road in Bostic. It was a fitting place for the quilt, and it is the very ground where it began its story.

Wall, who has lived in Shelby for many years, said her grandparents lived on the Golden Valley Sunshine Road near Duncan’s Creek, not far from the community club. Buried in the church across the street, are five of Wall’s grandfathers whose graves date back to the 1700s.

The old Center School was located on the nearby corner lot near Wall’s grandparent’s home and Beadie Melton taught at the school the year Wall was born. Melton boarded with Wall’s grandparents along with her nephew, Foy Melton, and her niece, Eloise Melton.

Both Eloise and Beadie Melton have their names included on the quilt, and Wall said she was able to deduce the age of the quilt from those names.

“To me, Golden Valley is hallowed ground and will always be a special place in my life,” she wrote in a statement detailing the history of the quilt. “Many names on this quilt are familiar to me as neighbors and family.”

Wall spent her childhood visiting grandparents, attending church services, memorials, weddings, funerals, corn shuckings, peanut pickings, wheat thrashings and many gatherings in the Golden Valley community. 

Wall said her grandmother, aunt and various women in the community came together to sew the quilt using pieces of their dresses and adding their names to the center of each square.

There are 25 names and 25 squares.

“After I got it, I realized it had to be made around the time I was born,” she said.

She is now the only surviving person whose name is on the quilt. 

Wall said her friend Janet Berry was instrumental in helping the heirloom find a permanent home where it could be preserved for future generations, and Cleveland Lumber Company built the shadow box where it is safely ensconced. 

Through her research of the quilt, Wall said she’s learned more about her family history and rekindled childhood relationships.

After rediscovering the blanket, Wall reached out to some of the people whose names or mother’s names, were included on it, including Foy and Elouise Melton. She found Eloise living in Charlotte and Foy in South Carolina. Ten years older than her, she said Foy remembered holding her as a newborn baby. She was able to visit both Foy and Eloise and went to Foy’s 100th birthday party and later, his funeral.

She said several years ago, a man was paving her driveway and when she found out he was from Golden Valley, she showed him the quilt and he found his mother’s name on it.

He brought his wife, who was a librarian at Sunshine School, to see the quilt and she invited Wall to bring it to their Founder’s Day celebration at school. She was able to show the quilt to the kids and explain its history.

Eventually, Wall’s nephew told her she needed to find a place to display the quilt, and she made it her mission to find it a home.

Now that it’s on display, it is attracting a lot of attention.

Wall said many people have stopped by the Golden Valley Community Club building just to see the quilt. Some find family members’ names on it. It has been featured in several newspapers and along with local media, the Friendship Quilt will be featured in Our State magazine.

“I called the associate editor and told him, ‘You’ve got a 90 year old magazine, and I’ve got a 90 year old quilt,’” Wall said. 

The heirloom will be featured alongside other North Carolina quilts in the magazine’s December issue. 

She said the age of 94 has been a new era for her, and although Wall has grieved the loss of some of her independence when she recently sold her car, she has found and forged new connections through the Friendship quilt. 

“I’ve made new friends all over Golden Valley,” she said.