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Maria's story and her journey to Kansas being in 1861. Union troops brought a number of "contraband" caravans to Kansas from Missouri. In 1862, Maria and her children were among the Brown enslaved families who were stolen from the Wayside Rest Plantation and forced to walk in the middle of winter to Lawrence, KS.

The story of Maria's forced march and her experiences as a skilled needlewoman and quilt maker are the focus of exhibitions and student work in the African American Quilt Museum and Textile Academy. The bedcovers Maria made were not ordinary scrap quilts, but traditional quilts made for her owner's beds. The workmanship on the two existing quilts believed to be created by Maria is extraordinary. One shows a "Feathered Star" pattern and the other a "Mississippi Oak Leaf" pattern.

Maria Rogers Martin.jpg

Maria Rogers Martin

Mississippi Oak Leaf & Feathered Star Pattern Quilts believed to be made by Maria Rogers Martin

Maria worked as a paid servant in the home of Colonel Jennison. Maria and her family survived Quantrill's raid on Lawrence on August 21, 1863. Maria lived and worked in Lawrence for over 40 years. While living in Lawrence at 1400 Haskell Avenue, Maria continued her needlework and quilt making as a paid servant working for Frank D. Brooks, a city official. Maria's work for Frank Brooks is documented by Frank's sister Jeannie.

Maria left Lawrence in 1907 to return to Cass County, MO, where her son Benjamin and other family members lived. She lived more than 10 years there and was buried in the old Brown family cemetery at the Wayside Rest Plantation.

Maria's remarkable story and artistry has inspired the work of Marla A. Jackson and the students at the African American Textile Academy.

Grants were awarded for the research from the Kansas Humanities Council.

Research and documentation contributed by:

Judy Sweets - Portal 2 History 

Diane Magness - Former Researcher from Cass County Historical Society 

Brown Family Researchers


Lawton Family Researchers:

Danielle Lawton, great great granddaughter of Sarah Elizabeth Taylor Williams Lawton

Debra Harris/Jill Lawton and the thousands other great grandchildren also great great grandchildren are doing the work of the ancestors.


Marla Arna Jackson

Marla Quilt's Inc. African American Quilt Museum Textile Academy 

Founder of National African American Quilt Convention 

Beyond the Book Program 

Second Chance Program 

Author, Historian, Preservationist of Historic Property pertaining to the 

Underground Railroad 



- National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom 

- Freedom Frontier Heritage Area 

- Watkins Museum of History of Douglas County


Meet the world renowned visual narrative artist and quilter Marla A. Jackson, in her art studio and teaching gallery. Jackson is a community-based visual art educator.  Her works have been exhibited in over thirty-five national and international venues, including the American Folk Art Museum, The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.  One of her most famous works, is part of the permanent collection, at Smithsonian's Anacostia Community.

In 2018, Marla Jackson received the "Anyone Can Fly" annual Lifetime Achievement award given by Faith Ringgold. She was also nominated for the Martin Luther King Jr. "Dream One" award by the Lawrence School District.


Jackson's narrative quilts are inspired by the oral histories of her ancestors and the Kansas region. Jackson is partners with Freedom Frontier's Heritage Area. Jackson has been featured in the Kansas History Society Quarterly, Threads of Faith, MS Magazine, Speaking Out of Turn Magazine, Wild West Magazine, Quilt Life Magazine, PBS programs, local and regional syndicated press, as well as exhibit catalogs. Jackson's company, Marla Quilt's Inc. African American Museum and Textile Academy is an impetus for developing artistic skills, enhancing individual and communal expression and furthering intellectual awareness .

In 2016, Marla was awarded a Phoenix award from the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission, and is currently on their board of directors.

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