A quilt block with red and white squares.

The authors of Hidden in Plain View tell us that The Monkey Wrench turns the Wagon Wheel on a Bear’s Paw trail toward the crossroads.  

For March, the next block in the underground railroad BOM is the Bear’s Paw.  The Bears Paw quilt pattern is an early nineteenth-century pattern.  Quilt historians believe the pattern was prominent in the Firelands a/k/a the Western or Connecticut Reserve – lands reserved for settlers whose places were burned out in Connecticut and elsewhere in the East during the Revolutionary War.  

Quilt patterns were given regionally relevant names.  In Ohio, where bears were in abundance during the early 1800s, the pattern was called Bear’s Paw.  In locations where bears were scarce, the pattern was given other names.  In Philadelphia, the pattern was called Hand of  Friendship; and in Long Island, New York it’s called Duck’s Foot in the Mud.

The Bear’s Paw pattern instructed runaway slaves to navigate their way through the mountains by following the bears tracks.  If fugitives followed the bear’s trail, they would find a route through the mountains  Because bears knew where to find fresh water, fish and berries, following their tracks allowed the slaves to find food and water along the route.

Download your Bear’s Paw Pattern here.

Download Pattern



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