Sarah Colby

American Samplers

Sarah Colby, age 10

1818

Massachusetts

Description:

This is an outstanding genealogy sampler worked on dark olive green linsey-woolsey fabric. While it is a very large sampler, Sarah has included elements that are specifically scaled to fill the space. Within a central box is a verse, large alphabets and a listing of the births of her siblings. This verse appears to be from "Search After Happiness", by Hannah More (1745-1833) and published in 1801. A progressive woman for her time, Ms. More was in turn a teacher, a writer and a philanthropist. 

This central box is surrounded by spectacular motifs. Large blossomed flowers with bows of blue ribbons fill the upper corners, between which is a basket of fruit. Flanking both sides are columns wrapped with large leaves and vines. The base of each column is designed as a memorial and Sarah has recorded the deaths of maternal family members. Along the bottom a remarkable vignette depicts an open book and musical instruments, most likely reminders of the education that Sarah was receiving. The verses of the book, Revelations 14:13, are handwritten in ink on the paper that is attached to the ground. The color of the ground is quite interesting and we can only wonder if this was the original color or if it has changed over time. 

Size (W x H): 20 1/4 x 29 1/2 inches

Stitches: Cross, outline, satin, chain, eyelet

Media: Silk on linsey-woolsey

Genealogy:

While letters are missing from her name, there is no doubt about the identify of Sarah Colby. John Colby married Sarah Nicols in Salem, Massachusetts in 1808 and their eldest child Sarah was born in 1809. John was a ship caulker by trade and also served as Deacon of the Second Baptist Church in Salem and selectman of the town. Six other children were born to this couple between 1811 and 1822, as recorded by Sarah, however research finds no record of the birth of Edward so perhaps he did not survive infancy. Genealogical research indicates that there were yet two other children - Caroline and Ellen, born after this sampler was completed.

In 1832 Sarah married Edward Dalton, also of Salem, and she died, a widow, in 1870.

Verse:

Wrought By Sa(missing) Colby In The 10th Year At Her Age AD 1818

Edward S Colby Born March 28 AD 1811
John B Colby Born March 14 AD 1813
William G Colby Born March 8 AD 1815
Francis A Colby Born June 14 AD 1817

Accomplishments by heaven were first designed
Less to adorn then to amend the mind
Each should contribute to the general end
And all virtue as their centre tend

Left side:
Sacred to the
memory of Mrs
Sally Nich
ols who died
AD 1793

Right side:
Sacred to the
memory of Mrs
Phebe Nicho
ls who died
AD 1812

Left of book: James T
Jan 25
Right of book: Coby born
1822
Beneath book:
Eiza Ann Colby
Born Oct 14 1819

Text within the book:
Blessed are
the dead
who die
in the Lord
Thus saith
the spirit
for they rest
from their
labor and their
works which
follow them

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(This sampler was added to the site on February 15, 2013)

Additional Information

A sampler by Mary Cate that was clearly worked under the same teacher as Sarah is pictured on page 34 of Miller's Samplers - How To Compare & Value by Stephen & Carol Huber. Research shows that Mary L. Cate was born 12 January 1812 in Barrington Township, Stafford, New Hampshire.

Another companion is by Mary Gate, 1815, and is featured opposite the week of November 28 - December 4 in Stephen and Carol Huber's 1994 Sampler Engagement Calendar.

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