master weaver william m. fasig (52 ancestors #9)

Week 9 (Feb 26-March 4):  “Close To Home”

Home being where the heart is, my choice for this blog post had to be, my 3rd great-grandfather, weaver extraordinaire in this 3rd great-grandchild’s eyes, William M. FASIG (Mar. 13, 1801 Lebanon Co., PA-May 30, 1885 Martinsville, Clark Co., IL; buried Ridgelawn — aka Fasig-Kettering — Cemetery, Martinsville, Clark Co., IL).


The frame- and loom-weaving course I took as an elective at university ranks among the most pleasurable memories of my past, and the connection I felt to William was immediate when in later years I “discovered” him as an ancestor. William also farmed & worked as a bricklayer, but it’s his beautiful work as a weaver that makes him special to me.

Years ago the Peoria, Illinois, Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences had an exhibit of IL coverlet weavers’ work which included coverlets woven by both William M., and, his son-in-law, Christian FASIG.  The 1999, “Illinois Jacquard Coverlets and Weavers: End of a Legacy,” by Nancy Iona Glick & Katherine A. Molumby, documents the exhibition, a blurb on the book at reading:

“Eighteen Illinois weavers produced figured and, figured & fancy coverlets from 1841 until after 1871.  Most, if not all, were working on looms with Jacquard attachments.  By the 1840s coverlet weaving had become competitive in areas of Pennsylvania and Ohio that were already saturated with skilled weavers; the craft also faced increasing competition from industrialization.  Illinois, in comparison, was much less densely populated, with unclaimed land and virtually no professional weavers producing fancy goods.  Less competition for the marketing of coverlets was probably viewed as an attractive prospect for Eastern weavers considering the move westward to the frontier.  This exhibition catalog includes essays, biographies of the weavers, a bibliography, and a checklist of documented Illinois coverlets.”[1]

1858: MY FAVORITE JACQUARD COVERLET BY WM. M. FASIG — I LOVE THE BLUE & WHITE. This photo found by me at a “ Online Store;” the 91″x80″ coverlet sold for $456… (Breaks my heart; I hope the owner appreciates what they have!)

A search for some of the Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences exhibit images for inclusion in this blog post led me to a Wikipedia article revealing that the Lakeview Museum closed in September 2012[2], shortly before the Peoria Riverfront Museum opened in downtown Peoria.  Although the Peoria Riverfront Museum website hints that it may now contain Lakeview Museum‘s collection — under “Midwest Folk Art,” the Peoria site reads, “All 18 weavers who produced figured & fancy Jacquard coverlets in Illinois between 1841 and 1871 are represented by the 43 examples in the Lakeview Museum collection.”[3] — the website doesn’t include the 18’s names or, photos of their work, so, I can’t say for certain…

As the Peoria Riverfront Museum notes, “Most of [the IL weavers of Jacquard coverlets in their collection] wove coverlets to order during the winter months when farming activities slowed down, although a few worked at their looms year-round as their primary occupation.”[3]

What’s the big deal about woven coverlets?, you may ask, but then, that tells me right off that you’re not a textile enthusiast, not particularly into “folk art,” &/or, definitely have not done any loom weaving yourself, 😉 as, loom weaving, particularly jacquard, involves a huge amount of skill, work, & artistry!


I’ll let the Bedford, PA, National Museum of the American Coverlet, “the first independent, year-round institution devoted to American woven coverlets,” have a voice here:

            “Coverlets are woven bedcovers, used as the topmost covering on a bed. The weaver worked on a loom to construct the textile itself one row at a time, and the pattern was woven in as part of the process.”

            “The two main types [of coverlets] are…geometric and, figured & fancy. The pattern motifs in geometrics are based on circles and squares,” while the patterns in figured & fancy coverlets are curvilinear & realistic and can include floral, animal, architectural and other motifs.


“These are the coverlets that most often contain inscriptions. Inscriptions can include the weaver’s name,…location, the year…made, the name of the person it was made for, and sometimes a slogan… Figured & fancy coverlets were virtually all made by professional weavers – men.”

            “Coverlets were generally made of wool and cotton, although some are all wool. The wool was usually hand-spun and dyed with natural dyes. The cotton was most often machine-spun and left undyed.”

            “Coverlets are reversible… That is why, when a coverlet has an inscription, it is almost always woven in backwards and forwards, to enable [it to be] read it on both sides…

            “Because most looms were narrow, coverlets were often made of two woven panels joined with a center seam. Many geometric coverlets [are] three panels joined. That is to say, the weaver had to weave the entire length of the coverlet twice, or three times, and hand sew them together next to each other in order to create a textile that was wide enough to cover the bed!”[4]

Great-Grandpa Wm. M. FASIG’s obituary, newspaper unknown to me, gives such a succinct yet broad picture of his life that I see no need to repeat the data in it in my own words–

          “Mr. William FASIG, or ‘Uncle Billy’ as he is called died on Friday morning Last. He had been ailing for a few days, but the chief cause of his death was old age. He had long looked for the hour when he would be released from the cares of this life, he often spoke of the time and said he was ready to depart to the joys of that realm whence no travelers returns. Uncle Billy was 84 years of age on March 18th the last – therefore in his 85th.

          “He was a native of Pennsylvania was married there in 1822 to Elizabeth HIBSCHMAN [daughter of Henry / Heinrich HIBSCHMAN (c 1778 PA-c 1823 PA) & Elizabeth KUMLER (1779 Berks Co., PA- ), 3rd- & 2nd-generation Swiss immigrants respectively] and emigrated to the State of Ohio in 1834, lived in that state several years, then emigrated to Missouri, but not liking it on account of it being a slave state, they came to Martinsville [IL] in 1847 where he was lived ever since. He was a brick-layer by trade. Samples of his work can be seen in the Odd Fellows Hall, the E. H. Vaughn building and the old part of the brick hotel.

          “His companion died three years ago. He was the father of 12 children, but three survive him, 1 son and two daughters, S.A. FASIG, and Mrs. Chris FASIG of our village and Mrs. EDMUNDS of Charleston, who were all present to see him laid beside his departed companion in the Kettering Cemetery. Mr. FASIG was a man loved by every one for his good kind and sociable nature. He was a devoted Christian almost all of his life, never departing from the path of right, no matter what misfortunes ever took him.

          “He died at the residence of his oldest daughter, Mrs. Chris FASIG. The funeral took place at 10 a.m. and was very largely attended, nearly every one in the village and the immediate vicinity joining to pay the last tribute of respect to the departed patriarch. Services were conducted by Elder BERNARD, assisted by elders HART and JONES.

          “— Unintentionally emitted form the above – after 1847, they resided on what is now known as the KETTERING farm, till 1861, when Mr. FASIG gave up farming and moved with his family to town where he has lived ever since.”[5]


William M. is the son of 2nd-generation German immigrant Dewalt Throbalt / Theobald FEASIG / FESSIG / FORSIG (1771 Berks Co., PA-1841 Lebanon Co., PA), among other variations of his name, & Catharina PETRI (1770 PA-1843 Lebanon Co., PA).  (Both Dewalt & Catharina were buried originally in PA, but descendant William WATSON, locating their graves in the late 1970s or early ’80s in an “abandoned graveyard…located in a weed-grown, dilapidated trailer court,” removed the stones and brought them back with him to La Porte [IN], later taking them to Martinsville [IL], “where the two sons had homesteaded long before the Civil war, coming here by covered wagon” and relocating them “in the old section of Ridgelawn Cemetery, next to the grave of one of the pioneering sons who came here in 1847.”[5])


I’ve only determined two “for sure” siblings to-date of William’s, an older brother Daniel, and, a younger sister Susanna.

My own descent is from William & Elizabeth (HIBSCHMAN) FASIG’s (Aug. 23, 1803 Schaefferstown, Lebanon Co., PA-Dec. 4, 1882 Martinsville, Clark Co., IL; Ridgelawn Cemetery) daughter Catharine (1826 PA-1915 IL), who married, Yes, her first cousin — one of those Genealogy Research Surprises; a story for another blog post… 🙂 — Christian FASIG (1825 PA-1901 IL).



1, at , accessed Mar., 2015.

2 Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia,” at , accessed Mar., 2015.

3 Peoria Riverfront Museum website, at , accessed Mar., 2015.

4 The National Museum of the American Coverlet, at , accessed Mar., 2015.

5 “The Sons of Dewalt Fasig,” RootsWeb genealogy database of FASIG descendant Minga STIVERS, at , accessed Mar., 2015.

IMAGES of William M. & Elizabeth:  My thanks to Denise DUFFY-WEAVER for (i.) the original from which this badly-cropped miniature of Wm. was swiped by someone and now floods the web :-/ ; &, (ii.) the also badly-cropped miniature of Elizabeth’s larger portrait (the originals of both of which live for now on a crashed hard drive in a corner of my clothes closet). :-\


This entry was posted in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: 2015 Edition, Clark & Crawford Co.s IL, Illinois Coverlet Weavers and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to master weaver william m. fasig (52 ancestors #9)

  1. geolover2 says:

    Hi Susan,

    It’s such a pleasure to see a post by one who loves coverlets.

    Are you a member of the National Museum of the American Coverlet? It needs all the love and support that we can give it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Susan says:

    I don’t think most people even fathom the work, skill, expertise involved in the creation of these woven coverlets (I don’t know that I could have if I hadn’t had my own floor-loom experience 🙂 …). They’re national treasures, period. 😉


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