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Native American quilt with local 'ancestry' on display at museum

A quilt created by a White Earth Reservation resident, "Mrs. Clark," may have been Jessie Clark, a noted Native American activist. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

A Native American quilt, made in the 1940s and consigned to the Ponsford Red Owl during World War II, is now on display at the Hubbard County Historical Museum.

Storeowners Ted and Mary Colgrove allowed residents to sell items at the store as a means to earn additional income during the war era.

Price: $10. But it did not sell.

In 1948, the Colgroves sold the store and asked the consigner, "Mrs. Clark," to pick up the quilt. Having no use for it, she sold it to the Colgroves for $7.50. The Colgroves purchased the Osage Country Market in the 1950s.

The quilt has remained in the Colgrove family since then. It was seldom used except during cold winter nights, when it was retrieved from the family trunk. Sleeping under the quilt was considered a privilege, according to Janet Colgrove Carpenter.

When Ted Colgrove died, Mary was left with the challenge of determining distribution of belongings, all four children admiring the quilt's heritage.

Initially, she considered dividing it into quarters, but the design did not lend itself to such measures. So the quilt became property to all, moving from home to home to be enjoyed.

Recent investigation has revealed "Mrs. Clark" was likely Jessie Clark, a resident on the White Earth Reservation who was revered for her quilting.

She moved to Minneapolis and became an activist for the Native American community, teaching Ojibwe and establishing Native American schools.

Jessie Clark was featured in a Minnesota History Center exhibit before her death.

The Hubbard County Historical Museum is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday until the end of September. Groups may tour the museum by appointment through Oct. 15.