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New quilt barn mural in Johnson County commemorates old family history

Maggie Brown and her Tulip quilt surrounded by four generations of the Brown family.

“Growing up we raised our own food,” says Debbie Snyder (nee Brown), of Mountain City, “the only things I remember buying were staples like sugar and flour.”
The Brown Farm, at 2107 Forge Creek Road (Highway 167), is the newest addition to the Quilt Trail of Northeast Tennessee. Installed on the oldest barn on the property, the quilt mural is visible from the road.
The Brown family has lived on the farm since late 1800’s. Originally tobacco, corn, hay and cattle producers. Snyder remembers as growing up our family was pretty much food self-sufficient , “we had a huge garden every year and canned and froze our vegetables. We had dairy cows, chickens, and hogs so we had eggs, milk, beef, and pork.”
The new mural is the quilt pattern, “Tulip.” It is inspired by a real quilt that Maggie Brown made when the fourth generation Brown was born. “My grandmother had always loved her flower garden,” says Snyder, “and quilted every winter before her eyesight left her.”
When Snyder heard about the Quilt Trail, she knew she wanted her family barn to have a quilt mural. “This farm is special,” she says, specifically proud of the five original structures from when the farm was established in the turn of the 20th century. “The barn, granary, chicken coop, wood shed, spring house, smoke house, were built by my grandfather’s uncle in the early 1900’s along with the farmhouse.”
Maggie Brown’s granddaughters and great-grandchildren are continuing to carry on the tradition. Snyder and her family raise their own garden, hogs, beef, and chickens. New to the farm, Debbie has become a Small Ruminant certified producer of Kiko meat goats. Her sister, Deena, and her family are hay and cattle producers.
The quilt mural was painted by Matt Blevins, elementary art teacher in Johnson County.
Johnson County is home to 13 quilt barns (see www.quilttrail.org). From 2005-2007, the cost of installing murals was sponsored by the TN Department of Agriculture which covered the artist and material costs in order to promote rural tourism.
“We no longer have grant funds for repainting,” says coordinator Emily Bidgood with the Appalachian RC&D Council. “I’ve seen that a few of the Johnson County quilt blocks are in need of some love and care. If there are any artists out there who would want to give the murals a facelift, we need you!”
Contact the Appalachian RC&D Council at 423-979-2581 or [email protected] for more information.