This crazy quilt was created to commemorate the World’s Columbian Exposition, which was held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the Americas. An image of Columbus occupies the center of the quilt. Below him are images of Bertha Palmer, one of the Fair’s organizers; George Washington; an unidentified woman; President Grover Cleveland, who opened the fair on May 1, 1893; and the Duke of Veragua of Spain, the only living descendant of Christopher Columbus at the time. The winners of the 1893 American Derby are depicted on the quilt’s upper left-hand corner. This horse race took place on June 24 at Washington Park on Chicago’s South Side. The upper right-hand corner shows an image of Chicago’s mayor, Carter Henry Harrison, who was killed by a disappointed office-seeker two days before the fair closed.
The quilt’s maker is thought to be Leonard F. Mitchell, in whose family the quilt descended. Little is known of Mitchell other than he ultimately became a copper miner in Montana and died of pneumonia in Utah at age 55.