Sunday, February 20, 2011


Sorry girl, I am running a little behind. This month's block is called Monkey Wrench and starts on page 38 of the Underground Railroad Sampler Book. My finished block is pictured. So here's the story for this month!

The Monkey Wrench Quilt was the first quilt that was used as a signal for slaves who planned to escape. Back in the day, the monkey wrench was a heavy metal tool used by the blacksmith. This particular quilt was the symbol that it was time to collect the tools they would need on their journey north to freedom.

There were also physical tools needed as well. Tools for constructing shelter, tools for defending themselves and tools for determining directions. Along with some food and a few coins, they were to wrap these tools in a bandana bundle. They would need mental tools as well. They would need to be alert and shrewd. They would also need the ability to figure out the motives of complete strangers.

The blacksmith, and one of the most knowledgeable people on the plantation, was known as the "Monkey Wrench". He had strong and skillful hands and could communicate to the slaves by the rhythmic hitting of the hammer on the anvil. The "monkey wrench" might be loaned out to neighboring plantations, so he knew the lay of the land. This person was also very familiar with the daily operations of the plantation and would not awaken suspicion.

Frederick Douglass, a well known abolitionist, was a free black "monkey wrench". Discovered in his home in Cedar Hill, Washington D.C., was a Monkey Wrench family quilt.

Monkey Wrench was a person or group of people who turned the wagon wheel.

1 comment:

  1. That is some very cool history! Even though I don't think I could sew that block, I like learning what they all mean! :)