Willie Ann Benning
The Benning sisters, Willie Ann and Sarah (b. 1933), are two of the few remaining residents of White's Quarters, once a neighborhood with many farming families. They both were taught to make quilts by their mother, Maggie Benning. Willie Ann talks about the old days.
We farmed in the one block behind the house in the same area I live in now. Sit around the fireplace and piece, and hang the quilt from the loft. Seebell and Luvinia Kennedy would come and quilt. My oldest and two others would go quilt from house to house. Quilts made of bought material left over from making clothes. Mama was Maggie Benning. She made most of our clothes when we were small. We made quilts out of our old dresses when we got to be teenagers.
I would go visit other places but I always wanted to stay here. Never liked Mobile to go live there. If I had to go anywhere, I would go to Michigan to stay with my daughter.
My favorite was red and white, and blue and white—I made those quilts at Seebell's house and she would help me. I gave those quilts to my daughter. Seebell always wanted to get it right. After Seebell passed and Luvinia moved to New York and Callie Young passed, I stopped making quilts.
Sisters all worked together on the quilt. Mama was the main quitter. She would beat the cotton out and put the lining on the floor and whip into the frames. We could hang it up till the next day. Mama loved to cook, but then she got disabled and I had to cook. She never complained.