Sampler by Martha Ann Beebe
Origin: America, Missouri, St. Louis
Framed: OH: 24" x OW: 21 3/4"
Silk embroidery threads on a linen ground of 27 x 27 threads per inch, wood, glass (fabric identification by eye)
Museum Purchase, The Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections Fund
Acc. No. 2011-15
This is a framed sampler worked in silk threads in shades of green, blue, cream, gold, and rust (originally red) on a linen ground. The sampler features four sets of alphabets and two sets of numerals. All "9's" in the sampler are stitched backwards. The sampler is framed by an oscillating vine border, which surrounds an interior zig-zag border. All text is stitched inside the zig-zag border. The top of this consists of two lines of an uppercase alphabet, the first line of which contains "A" through "U" and the second of which features "V" through "Z," followed by numerals 1 through 15. Below this is a lower case alphabet in a single line. Below this is another alphabet, all stitched in eyelet stitch. It is divided up in three lines, the first of which features "A" through "K," followed by "L" through "U," and finished with "V" through "Z," followed by 1 through 6. Below this is a signature line which reads, ""Martha Ann Beebes SamPler/Made in the 9th Year of her AGe/St Louis Missouri October 6th 1824." Below this is an uppercase alphabet in cursive, divided into three lines. The first consists of "A" through "M," the second "N" through "W" and the third "X" through "Z." Below this is a basket from which two long flowering vines blossom.
Stitches: cross over two, eyelet
Label:Martha Ann Beebe, who finished her sampler on October 6th, 1824, proudly included her town, St. Louis, and her state, Missouri, on her work. This sampler was created only two years after St. Louis was incorporated as a city and three after Missouri achieved statehood. Sampler making in the French regions of the Midwest was not a popular method of schoolgirl education and it is likely that few, if any, were made in Missouri before 1820. Martha's sampler, to date, is the earliest reported sampler from Missouri, and, indeed, may be the earliest extant sampler from the state.
Provenance:Sampler came from a dealer in the Ozarks, passed on to Amy Finkel, and then passed on to Bill Subjack before being sold to Colonial Williamsburg.
HISTORY OF MAKER:
Martha Ann Beebe was born in New London County, Connecticut on October 28th, 1815, to Elisha Stuart Beebe (1790-1832) and Anna Allyn Robinson (c. 1798-after 1821). She was the oldest of five children. After a preliminary trip with Captain Stephen Hempstead to Missouri, Elisha brought the family to St. Louis. This likely happened very soon after the birth of sampler maker Martha Ann, as her brother William was born in St. Louis in 1816. Elisha had a number of positions in the city, including block and pump maker, cooper, and coroner. After 1827, the family moved to Mobile, Alabama, where Elisha died in 1832.
Martha married Benjamin Douglas Starr (September 11th, 1811-August 7th, 1872) in 1836 in an unknown location. They possibly married in Ohio. Martha and Benjamin had five children in Ohio, from 1837 to 1848. Benjamin was a cabinet maker who moved his family at least three times to different parts of Ohio -- Cleveland, Copley, and Akron. After a fire destroyed their home in Akron, the family left Ohio and settled in Owego, Tioga County, New York. Benjamin died on August 7th, 1872 and Martha Ann on July 4th, 1895.
The inclusion of the town and state on Martha Ann's sampler is significant, as the sampler was created only two years after St. Louis was incorporated as a city and three years after Missouri achieved statehood. Although St. Louis was founded in 1764, it remained a small French village until about 1820. Sampler making in the French regions of the Midwest was not a popular method of schoolgirl education and it is likely that few, if any samplers, were made in Missouri before 1820. For this reason, there is a strong possibility that Martha Ann Beebe's sampler is the earliest extant sampler from what is now Missouri. It is the earliest reported example.