This quilt was created in Elk Garden, Russell Country, Virginia in the late 1840s by Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Hendricks, and was taken to California before the beginning of the twentieth century by one of her daughters. Mrs. Hendricks’s husband, Aaron Lilburn Hendricks, was a surveyor who drew the floral design, known as the Rose of Sharon. The quilt was made in the former home of the late Governor Harry C. Stuart, located in the Elk Garden / Rosedale area of Russell County. Mrs. Hendricks died in the year 1853, which makes the quilt over 160 years old. Virginia P. Maupin, who was a granddaughter of Mrs. Hendricks, returned the quilt to the area because she felt that it should be brought back to its original home in Virginia. This quilt served as inspiration for a hand-painted china design by Mrs. Mabel Cumbow Ruskin, founder and proprietor of the defunct Cumbow China Decorating Company (1933-1980) in Abingdon. Mrs. Ruskin was also a descendant of the Russell County Hendricks family.
The Cumbow China Decorating Shop had a modest beginning. Its owners, Mabel Cumbow Ruskin, a native of Washington County, Virginia, and Jacob Ruskin, a native of Basel, Switzerland, opened for business on Main Street with only twelve dozen pieces of china. They met while Jacob was on a business trip to Abingdon, and stayed in her mother’s boarding house. Originally a violin teacher, he had always been interested in china and this led him to working at the Brush Pottery Company of Zanesville, Ohio. His wife Mabel attended Stonewell Jackson College and then later attended the Chicago Art Institute. After the death of Jacob in 1938 Mabel kept the business open until her death in 1980.
So, the talent and skill of Mary Elizabeth Hendricks has been honored by her descendants –ones who protected the quilt for more than 160 years, and by being preserved as a china design.