Thursday, June 20, 2013

Panama Block Quilt Block

This 12" Panama Block quilt block, originally published by Nancy Cabot, is the fifth block of my Irish Great-Grandpa Sampler Quilt.  I found the pattern for it at Block Base.  This block pattern is also known as Mexican Star and Mexican Rose.  A pattern for a 16" Mexican Star block is available free online here.  A pattern for a 12" Mexican Rose block is available free online here.

While my maternal grandmother was still in high school, she interviewed her father, James Lynch, at the urging of her older brother Will, who was living in China at the time.  (Read his letter to her here.)  Later, she wrote a biography of her father from the notes she'd taken during the interview.  Following is the fifth part of this biography:

California Clipper 500.jpg
"In January 1854, James, Thomas, and Patrick left from New York for California by the Nicaragua Route.  They sailed the Atlantic to the Isthmus of Panama and then rode across on mules to the Pacific side.  The Atlantic trip was rough, but the Pacific side was smooth sailing."

- by Hazel Lynch Skonberg,
James Lynch's daughter

The California Gold Rush began when James W. Marshall found gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California on January 24, 1848.  Some 300,000 people flocked to California, hoping to get their share of the gold.  There was no easy way to get to California.  About half of the people came by sea.  From the East Coast, a sailing voyage around the tip of South America would take five to eight months.  The alternative that James and his brothers chose was to sail to the Atlantic side of the Isthmus of Panama, take mules for a week through the jungle, and then wait for a ship sailing for San Francisco once they got on the Pacific side.  About half of the gold seekers came from the east by land along the California Trail and the Gila River Trail.  Each of these routes to California, whether by land or by sea, had its own difficulties, from shipwreck to typhoid fever to cholera.   

 Are you interested in reading more about this quilt?  You'll find it all right here.

You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post


  1. Talk about changes in times. I have a friend who took a cruise thru the Panama Canal (not there in James' time). It only took her 3 weeks for the whole cruise.

  2. Very interesting! I like the colors on the 12" block - bright.

  3. Beautiful block. I can't wait to see the finished quilt because all of the blocks and fabrics so far are so pretty! I also can't wait to hear more of the interview.

  4. Wow, what a striking block. I love the multi-colored green diagonal stripes. They make the block really pop!


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