Louisa Lawrence Hollis, New Hampshire, 1819
Hollis, New Hampshire, 1819
Louisa Lawrence was 10 years old in 1819 when she worked this praiseworthy sampler. She was the ninth of ten children born to a farmer, Daniel and his wife Polly (Johnson), residents of Hollis, a town in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire. Interestingly, Louisa spelled the name of her town as "Holles," an alternative, if not official, variation which can be found in town publications prior to 1820. An 1894 publication, Hollis, Seventy Years Ago: Personal Recollections, by Henry Gilman Little, includes mention of this family, indicating that Daniel was "one of the staid citizens of Hollis, an extensive farmer, with a large family." Louisa's younger sister Caroline must have also been an accomplished needlewoman, as she is singled out in this book as a "tailoress, greatly beloved by all who knew her."
The sampler, like many of its outstanding counterparts made in southern New Hampshire in the first quarter of the 19th century, features strong clear lettering set in a crisp sawtooth margin and wonderfully framed with wide borders of beautifully depicted flowers on gracefully meandering vines. The verse extols the value of virtue, "the chiefest beauty of the mind / The noblest ornament of human kind." Louisa took an interesting and tiny shortcut at the beginning of her last line, which should read, "For ornamental beauty …" but it is missing a few letters.
In 1831 Louisa married Abijah Fletcher of Westford, Massachusetts, a successful farmer, and they had three children: Luke Lawrence, Elizabeth Caroline and Charles. Census records of 1870 and 1880 show Louisa, a widow, residing in Westford with her older unmarried sister, Abigail Lawrence.
The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a mahogany frame with a stepped outer bead.