Almira Bachelder, Canterbury,
New Hampshire, 1818
We are pleased to be able to offer Almira Bachelder’s praiseworthy sampler, which belongs to the Bird and Basket Samplers of Canterbury, New Hampshire, a group that has been researched and appreciated for many years. An exhibition entitled, Lessons Stitched in Silk: Samplers from the Canterbury Region of New Hampshire, at Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum of Art in 1990, included 33 samplers, from relatively simple examples to outstanding, fully developed ones, with the characteristic hillocks, flowers, trees, birds and baskets, frequently worked with black outlines. The borders of these samplers are strongly pictorial and frequently the samplers include only alphabets and inscriptions within the interior register, itself often framed by a light and dark zigzag border worked in the eyelet stitch. The samplermakers lived in the Merrimack Valley, in towns such as Canterbury, Loudon, Sanbornton and Gilmanton, located along the Merrimack River. While they likely attended a few different schools, the shared composition and technique produced an aesthetic that endured for over 40 years. The schoolteacher who was likely responsible for much of the excellent work from this area was Ruthy Foster (1779-1858).
This sampler is signed, “Almira Bachelder aged 13 AE,” along the bottom line of the large contained center section. She was the daughter of a farmer, Ebenezer and Hannah (Heath) Bachelder, born on June 7, 1805. History of the Town of Canterbury, New Hampshire, 1727-1912, by James Otis Lyford (Canterbury Historical Society, 1973) includes information about the Batchelder / Bachelder family, indicating that Almira’s parents were married in 1795 and they had four children, with our samplermaker being the youngest. In 1828, she married Colonel David Morrill Clough (1805-1885) and Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire, by Ezra S. Stearns (Lewis Publishing Co., 1903), publishes much information about Colonel Clough. He was a highly educated young man, commissioned in the state militia in which he rose quickly to rank of colonel. Almira and David had five children who were born between 1830 and 1850. In 1848, after a several month tour of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, towards the prospect of settling in the West, he returned to New Hampshire which he determined was attractive as any state to a farmer. The family then bought a farm near Canterbury that became very successful over the years. Almira died on November 5, 1851. Colonel Clough also served in public offices and as a member of the Governor’s Council. He was an active advocate for the rights of farmers for many decades. After he died in 1885, it was written that he was possessed of the great elements of success in life: opportunity, ability, critical judgement, habits of industry and energy.
Almira’s sampler was worked in silk on linen and remains in excellent condition, with some very minor wear to some stiches. A photo taken of the reverse indicates that the colors are very close to their original state. While the hillocks and flowers on vine within the hillocks are fully outlined and this composition is complete, the stitches that fill in the lawn are partially unfinished. It has been conservation mounted and is in a mahogany frame with a maple outer bead.