Catharine McPherson

American Samplers

Catharine McPherson

1836

Monroe County, New York

Description:

We always appreciate a sampler that incorporates specific traditions from its family heritage into its visual elements. Catharine McPherson, a nine-year-old living in New York State, southwest of Rochester, included on her sampler many elements that closely resemble those that traditionally appear on Scottish samplers. Catharine was the daughter of Duncan W. McPherson, who emigrated from Perthshire in 1798 and Catharine McArthur, also born in Perthshire. Married in 1817 in New York State, the McPhersons had ten children born between 1818 and 1840; our samplermaker was their fifth, born 4 August 1827. The family was an active part of the thriving Scottish immigrant community in Monroe County - the History of Monroe County New York (Lippincott & Co., Philadephia, 1877) includes an entire section entitled "The Scottish Settlement" and discusses the McPherson family as well as the Malloch family, which Catharine married into when she wed James Malloch in 1846. James was the son of a sea captain and a four-year-old boy when his family immigrated to the United States. The sampler tells an excellent and classic story of a family's emigration to America and their productive lives in the early years of our country's history.

Catharine and James remained in Wheatland, where James was a farmer. They had five children and lived in close proximity to the McPherson family members. Catharine died 14 December 1856, at only 29 years of age, and is buried in Caledonia Cemetery with other family members. 

Motifs such as the open-tail peacocks, the large crown and sailing ship along with the use of familial names and initials are Scottish characteristics. It is likely that Catharine's teacher was also a recent Scottish immigrant and employed the needlework traditions that she brought with her. In the overall, however, the sampler's free-form composition and asymmetrical layout has a decidedly American personality. Interesting to note as well is the simplistic version of the American flag flying from the ship. This sampler was an outstanding accomplishment for its nine-year-old maker. 

Familial names and initials: Duncan McP, Catharine McP, EMcP, MMcP, WMcP, JMcP, JMP, CMP, EMP, DT, JMP, CMP, WMP

Size (W x H): 20 x 18 3/4 inches (framed)

Stitches: Cross, eyelet, outline, straight, satin, smyrna cross

Media: Silk on linen

Genealogy:

Catharine was the fifth child of Scotland natives Duncan W. McPherson and Catherine McArthur. Siblings included Mary Horn (1818), William D. (1820), Jannett (1823), Daniel (1825), Christine (1830), Elizabeth (1832), John D. (1835), Margaret (1828) and Anna (1840). Her husband, James Malloch, was 14 years her senior. The couple had five children - Jane/Jean (1848), Caroline (1850), Catherine (1850), James Jr. (1851) and Mary C.E. (1855) - before Catharine's untimely death at the age of 29 in 1856. No cause has yet to be uncovered for the death.

Verse:

CATHARINE McPHERSON'S SAMPLER 1836

CMP
WAS
BORN
AUG 4
1827

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(This sampler was added to the site on May 30, 2014)

Additional Information

This sampler was the subject of an article entitled, "A Stitch in Time: What we learned from an old piece of Fabric" by Mary Lane in 2013. Mary is the 3x great granddaughter of the samplermaker's sister Jannett McPherson Miller. 

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