• 4. Ranching
  • Saddles lined up by the cook shack on Bert’s 10 Bar Ranch, Grace with calf she won at a fair, circa 1940s, 10 Bar barn, wash house, & ranch house

    © Yvonne Hollenbeck, received from Billie Snyder Thornburg

    © NO TIME ON MY HANDS, Grace Snyder Descendants

    Six years before their wedding, Bert Snyder had filed a ranch claim on Squaw Creek in McPherson County, with North Platte far to the south. Bert thought the short grass prairies of the Sandhills were better suited to ranching than farming. On a ranch, seasons are marked more by calving, branding, haying, and shipping than by the weather.

    The ability to count on your neighbors was an important part of surviving the harsh demands of life in the Sandhills. Whether fighting an approaching prairie fire, caring for a desperately ill child, or sharing a meal with a passing stranger, people in the Sandhills could be counted on to help.

    An audio clip about Grace Snyder
  • BRAND QUILT, 1950

    © Grace Snyder Descendants

    Hand-pieced and hand-quilted, this Brand Quilt represents the Snyder family’s close attachment to the ranchers who shared the challenges of life in the Sandhills. The 36 names and brands are from the Snyder family and their neighbors.

    Bert and Grace were known for their hospitality. Tired neighbors passing the ranch late at night were welcome to quietly enter the house without waking anyone, sleep on a cot in the spare room, and share breakfast with the family the following morning. Even the family dog failed to bark at these late night intrusions when he recognized a familiar family friend. It was this strong community bond among the ranch families that Grace honored when she made this quilt.

    An audio clip about Grace Snyder
  • BROKEN STAR, circa 1930s

    © Grace Snyder Descendants

    Grace sold an orphan calf in 1907 to buy her first sewing machine. As she got older, she began to enter her quilts in county fairs and won many ribbons, awards, and recognition, accomplishing the first of her daydream goals – to make the most beautiful quilts in the world.

    The Broken Star quilt is one striking example. Made in the 1930s for Bertie, Grace’s youngest daughter, the quilt’s pastel color scheme reflects the popularity of these colors during that era. Each color blends beautifully with the off-white background fabric that Grace used to display her expert quilting. This Broken Star is a variation of the popular Lone Star pattern, which was one of Grace’s favorite designs during her early years on the ranch.

    An audio clip about Grace Snyder
  • From COVERED WAGON STATES or DAD's Quilt, circa 1930s, Buffalo Bill Cody’s home in North Platte, Buffalo Bill Cody

    © Grace Snyder Descendants

    © NO TIME ON MY HANDS, Grace Snyder Descendants

    © U.S. government

    Bert herded cattle in Wyoming and Montana as well as Nebraska before marrying Grace. He was one of the best horsemen around, and for a while, actually broke horses for Buffalo Bill Cody’s "Wild West Show and Congress of Rough Riders". Bert turned down Buffalo Bill’s offer to join the riders, choosing to ranch instead.

    On August 19, 1911, Grace, Bert, and their son Miles were able to attend Buffalo Bill’s last show in North Platte. Dressed in white buckskin, the old man put on quite a performance — he had been running the show for almost 30 years. Riding skill was not only great entertainment, but necessary on a ranch.

    An audio clip about Grace Snyder
  • COVERED WAGON STATES (DAD’S QUILT), circa 1930s, Photo taken at 1950 Women's International Exhibition

    © NO TIME ON MY HANDS, Grace Snyder Descendants

    © Grace Snyder Descendants

    Grace never hesitated to add something unique to her quilts. In the Omaha World Herald pattern, Covered Wagon States, Grace modified the cattle-roping cowboy block to represent Bert, and then added his nickname, ‘Pinnacle Jake’. Within the family, the quilt is known as Dad’s Quilt.

    There is a sense of movement in this scene that simultaneously captures the excitement of the chase and the skill of the rider. Grace always admired Bert’s talent with horses, and this block is a tribute to his life as a cowboy and rancher.

    In this photograph, the reporter asked Grace to include Bert’s gun and holster.

    An audio clip about Grace Snyder

    © Grace Snyder Descendants

    Grace’s skill in Dad’s Quilt is apparent not only in the depiction of a family traveling west in a covered wagon but also in the 16 surrounding images. Grace gave special attention to facial features, adding remarkable detail. Each appliqué is outlined in a chain stitch, and each setting block is hand-quilted with two motifs, a rifle and a bow and arrow, crossed in the center.

    Use the magnifying glass to look at the incredible detail in each block.

    An audio clip about Grace Snyder
  • From HOME ON THE RANGE, 1943

    © Grace Snyder Descendants

    Grace thought haying was the hardest ranch job of all, because she felt Sandhills horses were wilder than others and harder to control while they were hauling machinery. Her Home on the Range quilt contains many clues to Grace’s admiration of cowboys.

    The center of this quilt is occupied by a hand-appliquéd log cabin backed by embroidered rolling hills. Several figures, again including a horse and cowboy, are scattered around the cabin and the distant hills. Made in 1943, this is the third surviving quilt made for a grandchild. In contrast to her other two children’s quilts, this one is in almost perfect condition. Grace wisely waited to give this quilt to her grandson until after his marriage in 1962.

    An audio clip about Grace Snyder

    © Grace Snyder Descendants

    Surrounding the center design of the Home on the Range quilt are 18 embroidered blocks depicting — guess what? — cowboys and cowgirls engaged in all the exciting ranch activities. There are bucking broncos to ride, impressive ropes to twirl, and songs to sing.

    After completing this handmade quilt, Grace liked it so well that she kept it to enter in various county and state fair competitions. In 1949, it won Best of Show at the Nebraska State Fair.

    An audio clip about Grace Snyder

To stitch or sew a quilt by hand rather than by machine.
A bed covering or blanket, usually created in 3 layers: a decorative top, an interior batting made of cotton, wool, or polyester fibers for warmth, and a backing. Quilting is the process of stitching all three layers together.
Traditional 6-Step Process
  1. Select a pattern, fabrics for top and back, and interior batting.
  2. Measure and cut fabrics to the correct size to make blocks from the pattern.
  3. Piece (sew together) blocks to make a finished top layer. Add embroidered details or appliqués, if desired.
  4. Make a quilt sandwich by layering the quilt top with batting and backing, usually using a quilt frame to hold the fabrics taut.
  5. Quilt (stitch) the three layers together.
  6. Square up and trim excess batting from the edges, sew the binding to the front edges of the quilt, and then hand-stitch the binding to the backing.
A guide design or example used to help create other designs.
To stitch or sew a quilt by hand rather than by machine.
Sewing together small pieces of fabric for a quilt top. Quilts usually start with a number of smaller blocks that are then sewn or "pieced" together.
chain stitch
An embroidery technique where a series of looped stitches resemble a chain.
A decorative, reoccurring design or shape.
To decorate a fabric with needlework stitches.
A wild or half-trained horse in western North America.
A piece of land used to grow crops to sell, not just for home use. Animals may also be raised, but the crops are the main product.
A piece of land used to raise animals for sale, usually cattle.