House & Home

KC Star quilt block 9: Another Christmas away

Quilt Block 9: Red Cross
Quilt Block 9: Red Cross

We’re up to Block 9 of The Star’s monthly quilt project, “Where Poppies Grow … Remembering Almo,” which honors those who served in World War I.

The quilt also tells the story of Almo Ebenezer O’Kell. O’Kell’s correspondence and photos have been preserved by his family and provide a rich history of his work as a medic with Field Hospital No. 3 and the First Division under Gen. John J. Pershing of Missouri.

Each month, along with a new quilt block, we’ll share a piece of Almo’s story.

Today, Block 9, “Red Cross”:

After arriving in Koblenz, Almo traveled about 30 miles northeast to Höhr-Grenzhausen, Germany, on Dec. 13, 1918. While there, he sent a postcard home to his son, Townsend, and his ex-wife, Pearl: “I sure have seen some fine scenery and nice people. We travel by trucks so of course see more than most of the boys.”

He stayed one day in Höhr-Grenzhausen and then traveled to Dernbach, where the medics set up in a Catholic Sisters Hospital for the Poor:

“We are using part of it and have a very nice place,” Almo wrote. “I am in charge of all the wards and wardmasters and all the clothing of the patients. The sisters say they can’t see why we work so hard keeping the floors clean. You see, it has been awful weather since we came up here a week ago now. It is either raining or snowing or both most of the time.”

Almo was keenly aware that Christmas was approaching and that he would spend it in Germany, away from Townsend again.

“But I only hope I will be (home) so I can send you something for the next one if I am lucky enough to come out of this war and back to the states.”

This was the third year he’d be away from his little boy during the holidays.

Almo did manage to send a postcard to Townsend on Christmas Eve:

“Dear Baby, Just a Christmas card as this is all we can get here. — With love and kisses, Papa.”

The “Poppies” quilt was designed by Denniele O’Kell Bohannon of Louanna Mary Quilt Design, Harrisonville, and Janice Britz of Bee Merry Farms, Peculiar, as a tribute to Bohannon’s great-grandfather, Almo Ebenezer O’Kell. Angela Walters of Quilting Is My Therapy in Kearney did the free-motion quilting.


Block size: 14 inches finished

Supply list

▪ 6 inches by 13 inches red fabric

▪ 8 inches by 14 inches blue fabric

▪ 18-inch square background fabric

▪ 10 inches by 8 inches green fabric

▪ 2-inch square gold fabric

▪ 10 inches by 8 inches fusible web

▪ Black embroidery thread, optional

▪ 31 inches brown bias strip (previously made)

Cutting directions

From the red fabric, cut:

▪ 4 (2 1/4-inch) squares (A)

▪ 4 (2 1/2-inch by 2 1/4-inch) rectangles (D)

▪ 1 (2 1/2-inch) square (E)

From the blue fabric, cut:

▪ 4 pieces using template (C)

▪ 1 (2-inch) square. Apply fusible web and cut 1 circle using template 2.

From the background fabric, cut:

▪ 6 (2 5/8-inch) squares (B). Cut the squares from corner to corner once on the diagonal.

▪ 4 (2 1/2-inch by 2 1/4-inch) rectangles (D)

▪ 2 (3 1/2-inch by 9 1/2-inch) rectangles

▪ 2 (3 1/2-inch by 15 1/2-inch) rectangles

From the green fabric, apply fusible web and cut:

34 leaves using template 3

From the gold fabric, apply fusible web and cut:

1 star using template 1


Stitch a red D rectangle to a background D rectangle. Press toward the red. Make 4. Set two aside. Stitch a DD unit to either side of the red E square. Press away from the center square. This is the center row. Set aside for the moment. See Fig. 1.

Sew a background B triangle to two sides of a red A square. Press toward the triangles. Add a blue C piece and another background B triangle as shown. Make 4 of these corner units. See Fig. 2.

Sew a corner unit to either side of a DD unit. Press toward the center. Make two rows like this. See Fig. 3.

Sew the three rows together to complete the center of the block. See Fig. 4.

Sew a 3 1/2-inch by 9 1/2-inch background rectangle to the top and bottom of the center block. Add a 3 1/2-inch by 15 1/2-inch background rectangle to the left and right sides. The block will be trimmed to 14 1/2 inches after the appliqué is complete. See Fig. 5.


This block will be available as a free download for one week at the online home of Kansas City Star Quilts, After that, the pattern will be available as a download for $3.95.

The supply list for the entire quilt and the pattern for the laurel wreath applique will be available as a free download at throughout the year.



As part of the centennial observance of the start of World War I, The Kansas City Star and the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial are offering an opportunity for readers to exhibit completed versions of the 2014 Star Quilt at the museum in June 2015. Stay tuned for more information on how to submit entries.