Members of the Rotary Club of Gympie were blown away when an historic treasure came to light through a patron who was attending the 201 event, the Gympie Rotary Quilt & Craft Spectacular.

A large commemorative vintage quilt, 170cm x 170cm, created to mark the occcasion of  the First Queensland Wesleyan Conference at the Methodist Church (later, the Surface Hill Uniting Church), Gympie, has been found, fragile, but largely in tact. 

The quilt was presented to Reverend Tom Ellison (1865 – 1944) in 1893 for his services to the church and was passed down through his family, until it’s location and the knowledge of it’s existence was lost in time.
Custodian of the quilt, Sharon Ackerman, contacted the Rotary Club of Gympie after a chance conversation with a neighbour led to it’s discovery. “I was speaking to my neighbour about attending the Quilt & Craft Spectacular, and she told me she had a quilt in her possession dated back to 1893!  She went on to tell me about its history, recorded in a book and then brought the book over to show me. I took photos and sent them to the Gympie Rotary Club. I had been in touch with them to book our village bus for the show.” says Sharon. “My neighbour told me the quilt was scrunched up on the floor of her mother’s friend’s house, ready to be chucked out. Her mother asked if she could have it – so here it is. She felt the quilt needed to be loved and appreciated for the history of where it came from. We really hope the Gympie community will be pleased to have it back with the history that it has.”

1893 was a big year for Gympie, with our greatest flood reaching a record-breaking 25.45m high and a young Andrew Fisher topping the poll for Labor in Gympie in the General Election. Many of the squares on the quilt say ‘First Queensland Wesleyan Conference of 1893’ as well as ‘The great flood of 1893’ and ‘General Election 1893’. 

The quilt was created with velvet and silk, hand embroidered on each of it’s 296 individual blocks, and backed with green quilted satin. 179 blocks have names signed in embroidery, and are adorned with flowers, birds and quotes. Tom Ellison’s signature can be found together with the signature of his future wife, who also came from Gympie – the Bytheways, whose name appears on the church’s 1890 foundation stone. 

This important quilt made is debut appearance, after being lost for decades, at the Gympie Rotary Quilt & Craft Spectacular, 2021 in the Pavilion, Gympie Showgrounds