Quilt will tell secrets of Underground Railroad

Published 7:34 pm Friday, February 10, 2006

By By RYAN STEWART / Niles Daily Star
NILES - A Niles fourth grade class was quite popular on Thursday. David Schiele's fourth grade class at Eastside School was visited by South Bend's Channel 22 and area newspapers.
In recognition of Black History Month, Schiele's class is making an actual quilt devoted to the Underground Railroad. Each of his 23 students is coloring a square for the quilt depicting an event or place on the Railroad on a map from the Ohio River north to our area in Southern Michigan.
Some of the squares included farm scenes, pictures of wagons, Young's Prairie Ramptown and Lake Michigan. Each square is one by one foot, and together they will make about a five by five foot square. There will also be a three inch border.
Schiele said that during the time of the Underground Railroad, the people made quilts that had secret maps and symbols on them. For the most part, the quilts looked like a normal quilt would with squares and patterns, but then had the secret parts mixed in with the normal quilt designs. The maps and symbols would tell them things such as where to pull their boat out of a river or whether a certain county was safe.
Schiele has taught for 10 years and says that he tries to do something every year to recognize Black History Month.
In addition to making the quilt, Schiele has also read books to his class and watched a few movies on the subject.
The quilt will be auctioned off once it is completed. They will donate the money they make from the sale to Support the Fort (St. Joseph).
An intern from Western Michigan University, Michael Krisher, is helping with the project and had the idea of asking Wal-Mart if they would donate any money to the cause.