The Burgin Quilt

Peggy Silvers and 300 years of history

The McDowell News carried this article written by Scott Hollifield prior to the 1994 Burgin-Lytle Reunion.

The quilt is more than thread and cloth, it's 300 years of history sewn by those who carry the family name. It stretches from the 1700s, when Benjamin and Jesse Burgin settled in the area, to the 1990s when their descendants are spread across the United States.

On Sunday, July 15, more than 400 people with ties to the Burgin and Lytle families will gather at Bethel Methodist Church outside Old Fort for their 60th reunion.

To celebrate the event and preserve a unique family history, Peggy Silvers began a quilt that lists the names of those on the Burgin side of the family. She photocopied the quilt's pattern and mailed 486 copies to Burgins across the country.

Peggy Silvers mailed 486 patterns for a family quilt to Burgins scattered across the country. The squares returned to her formed the beginnings of the quilt which was displayed at NCNB on Main Street. More Burgins were expected to bring their quilt squares to the reunion.

Young and old have responded, sending back their squares to be sewn into the family history now on display in the lobby of the Marion branch of the North Carolina National Bank (NCNB) on Main Street. The multicolored quilt covers one wall at the bank, but Mrs. Silvers expects the project to grow much larger when other family members bring their squares for the reunion this weekend.

"It's a project people can get together on whether they're in the county or in California," Mrs. Silvers said. "They can make their own little block and feel like they're a part of things."

According to Mrs. Silvers, the Burgins and the family of Thomas Lytle, another early settler, inter- married in the early days of McDowell County. Jesse Burgin later moved to Georgia, where he died in 1803. Two of his sons returned to McDowell, while the rest moved on to Alabama and Mississippi.

"It seems appropriate that on the 60th reunion, many descendants of Benjamin and Jesse are making a pilgrimage home for the first time in 200 years"
-Peggy Silvers

One 93-year old member of the Burgin family from Mobile, Alabama apologized to Mrs. Silvers for not returning her quilt square sooner. She said, "I'm slow because I have to look through a magnifying glass to see it," according to Mrs. Silvers. Even 8-year olds have taken up needle and thread and contributed to the project that spans several generations.

Mrs. Silvers is also putting together a book of old family recipes that will chronicle the history of the Burgins and the Lytles. "It's how things used to be done a long time ago. We need to get it down so we don't lose it," she said.

Note: The quilt is displayed at the Burgin-Lytle Reunion every year.