Sampler by Sarah A. Jordan
Origin: America, Alabama, Dallas County, Valley Creek
OW: 16 1/2" x OH: 17 1/4"
Silk embroidery threads on a linen ground of 30 x 30 threads per inch (fiber identification by eye).
Museum Purchase, Mr. & Mrs. Stuart H. Brown
Acc. No. 2010-61
This almost square sampler is worked in dark and light green, two shades of cream, yellow, and brown. It is surrounded by a border of dark green leaves filled with cream. The sampler features five alphabets divided by bands, all of which are capitalized except the third. Each alphabet features a different stitch or style: cross in capitals, eyelets, cross in lower case, cross in capitalized script, and four-sided, respectively. Each is separated by a thin border design. The first alphabet is followed by a basket of flowers.
Below the rows of letters is the inscription, “When all thy mercies O my God/ My rising soul surveys/ Transported with the view I’m lost/ In wonder love and praise./ Oh how shall words with equal war/ mth The gratitude declare/ That glows within my ravished heart/ But thou canst read it there” worked in brown cross stitch and followed by a decorative band.
Below verse is the signature line, "Wrought by Sarah A Jordan Valley Creek Academy Dec th 7th [sic] 1831."
The bottom of the sampler features a simplistic scene of a house, a tree, a large building, a tree, and a house (from left to right).
Stitches: buttonhole, cross over one and two, eyelet, four-sided, Irish, queen, straight
Label:Marked “Sarah A Jordan Valley Creek Academy” and dated “1831,” this rare Deep South sampler is among the earliest from the State of Alabama. Few others of its date exist. The dearth is explained by Alabama’s comparatively late settlement. Although the region had been inhabited by Native Americans for millennium, and De Soto visited in 1540, settlement by Anglo-Americans was comparatively sparse until about 1820. The influx of easterners was spurred, in part, by soldiers who had fought with Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812, and traversed the region coming and going to the Battle of New Orleans. Only in the late 1810s, when the federal government awarded former Indian lands as “Bounty Land Warrants” to aging Revolutionary veterans, was the government able to encourage larger settlement. Alabama Territory became the State of Alabama in 1819, the same year that the town of Valley Creek was founded in the “Black Belt,” a fertile region of black soil that was especially good for growing cotton. Nearby Selma, just nine miles distant, was founded on the Alabama River in 1820.
Valley Creek Academy was established on January 6, 1829, to educate children of the region’s small but growing planter population. References to the academy are few, not only because of the comparatively small student body, but because by 1841, the institution was rechartered as the Methodist Church’s new Centenary Institute. From 1845 to 1865, it was the most acclaimed academic institution in Central Alabama, with as many as five hundred students each year. According to Dr. John Massey, who taught at the Institute, “the work done … was of a kind that made good men and good women.”
Provenance:Made by Sarah Ann Jordan, 1831.
Bought by CWF from Sumpter Priddy, 2010.
MAKER HISTORY: Sarah Ann Jordan was born in 1809 to Reuben Elmore and Emily Dillard Jordan of Wetumpka, Montgomery County, and later Coosa County, Alabama. Both of Sarah’s parents were born in Virginia and both families moved to Laurens County, South Carolina, where Rueben and Emily met and married before relocating to Alabama.
Inscription(s):“When all thy mercies O my God/ My rising soul surveys/ Transported with the view I’m lost/ In wonder love and praise./ Oh how shall words with equal war/ mth The gratitude declare/ That glows within my ravished heart/ But thou canst read it there.”