Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Talented Tuesday - 1841 Sampler Survives

Editor's note: Today's post was written by Sandra Gardner-Benward

Another Heirloom from our membership 
an amazing sampler from 1841
                                                       somehow made its way from Ireland to California

The sampler was stitched by my great great grandmother, Mary McEVOY PLUNKETT, in 1841.  Mary lived her entire life in Drogheda, a city on the River Boyne in County Louth, Ireland.  I have been unable to document her birthdate, but I believe she stitched this as a young girl, perhaps as young as 7 or 8.

After my grandmother died in 1982, we were packing her possessions and we found the sampler rolled up in the bottom of a box in the garage.  It was in very poor condition; it was dirty and dark, and the colors could barely be seen.  There was insect damage to many of the threads.  The sampler was given to me because I am the family historian, and because I promised to have the sampler properly restored. 

The staff at the Sacramento HistoryMuseum was able to put me in touch with a textile restorer who had done work for them and for UC Davis.  She was truly a miracle worker and did a beautiful job of cleaning the sampler and bringing out the original colors.  Of course, the thread damage could not be repaired, but I think that adds to the charm of a relic that is 173 years old.

I took the sampler to Taylor's Art Center and had it matted and framed with archival quality materials, so it should last forever.

The photograph is of Mary and her husband, Thomas Joseph PLUNKETT.  It was probably taken in the 1880s.

I do not know how or when the sampler made its way to America.  Thomas & Mary had ten children, but only the two youngest emigrated, and one of those was my great grandmother, Agnes PLUNKETT.  She settled in San Francisco, and that is where many of my family members were born, including me. 

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