Susan H. Munson

American Samplers

Susan H. Munson, age 13


New York


This extraordinary sampler, worked by Susan H. Munson, is the only known American example of its type - a detailed portait of a specific ship. Its rarity was first acknowledged when it was illustrated on a full page of American Samplers by Bolton and Coe, published in 1921, figure LXXXII.

The samplermaker included many specific nautical details in her portrayal of this ship: three masts each with three yard arms, gun ports on its hull, American flags flying on the foremast and gaff, reef points on the sails and a homeward-bound pennant flying onthe main mast. Additionally, the sampler includes a naval prayer and a proverb. The ship is centered in a handsome composition, enhanced by the rippling waves of the ocean below and the stylized rainbow arcing above, with the sun and moon deftly inserted within the clouds. 

Susan's sampler shows characteristics that we associate with the New York area -- specifically the rod wrapped with buds on a vine border that surrounds the sampler on all four sides. There has been some thread loss since the photographs were taken for Bolton and Coe, but the sampler is still in excellent condition. 

Size (W x H): 17 1/4 x 16 inches

Stitches: Cross, long-armed cross, satin, herringbone, outline

Media: Silk on linen


Susan was the daughter of John and Mehitabel Munson, born 28 November 1811 in Connecticut. Age the age of 18, Susan married Joseph Henry Byram at the Vandewater Street Presbyterian Church in New York City. The couple lived in Troy, New York and had seven children: Joseph Henry Jr. (1830), Thomas Cornella (1832), Anna Rebecca (1834), Esther E. (1840), Theodore A. (1842), Susan Cornella (1846), Maria Palmer (1848). According to the 1855 New York state census, Joseph is a merchant tailor. 

Susan died 19 June 1875 and is buried in the Oakwood Cemetary in Troy. A combined headstone was erected after the death of husband Joseph in 1879. 



From rocks
shoals and

O God 
Protect the

at night

Is a

Susan H Munson's work aged 13 Years

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Additional Information

We have found records of a schooner Potosi, arriving in Boston from Spanish Main and St. Isabelle, in 1824 as reported by the Salem Register newspaper. The schooner is not to be confused with the much larger barque Potosi, a five-masted steel barque built in 1895 by a German sailing ship company as a trading vessel. Under Chliean ownership it caught fire and was sunk in 1925. 
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(This sampler was added to the site on February 19, 2015)