Jane Robinson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1818
The story of the family of Jane Robinson, during her lifetime, mirrors that of the history of many American families. One side had deep roots in America while the other side had recently emigrated from the British Isles. And when Jane was about twelve years old, the Robinsons left the comfort and security of their lives in the East to participate in the Westward Movement. They became an important part of the fabric of a newly established town in southern Indiana; Jane married and remained there throughout her life. However, prior to the family’s movement West, and like many young schoolgirls along our country’s eastern seaboard, Jane attended school and worked a sampler; in her case when she was ten years old. It traveled with her and remained in the family for generations.
Jane’s father was William Robinson (1780-1834), who was born in Ireland and immigrated as a young man, in 1800. He settled in Baltimore where he married Mary Fearson on February 14, 1808. The Robinsons had at least nine children; some were born in Baltimore, but about 1820 the family removed to Madison, Indiana, where their last three children were born. Madison is on the Ohio River and was founded in 1810 and platted in 1811. William quickly became an important citizen of that town. When he died in 1834 at age 54, his obituary in the Madison Republican & Banner described him as one of the town’s most valuable pillars, engaged in various leadership and charitable activities.
Mary (Fearson) Robinson’s family had been here for generations and her father, Capt. Jesse Fearson (1756-1838), was a privateer ship commander who served in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, during which he was captured by the British and imprisoned in Havana, Cuba.
In 1827, Jane married John Alling, a Princeton graduate and young lawyer from Newark, New Jersey who was also living in Madison, and they became the parents of three sons. After his death, Jane married Rev. Simeon Crane and they also had three children. Jane died in 1874 and is buried, along with many family members, in Springdale Cemetery in Madison, Ohio.
Along with the fact that Jane’s sampler showcases a handsome composition and is skillfully rendered, it is notable for its relationship to a group of five Baltimore samplers, known collectively as the “Diagonal Path Group.” This group has been studied by Maryland needlework scholars for some time. All of the samplers are dated between 1836 and 1841 and their shared characteristics include their eponymous diagonal paths and fencing leading to and from a double-chimney brick house. The discovery of a substantially earlier version of this format adds greatly to the field. We are grateful to sampler scholar, Susi Slocum, for her insights and research regarding Jane Robinson and this important group.
Worked in silk on linen, the sampler is in excellent condition and has been conservation mounted into a beveled cherry frame with a black outer bead.