The Pennsylvania German families of southeastern Pennsylvania, particularly Lancaster County, generally retained their German language and culture long after many American populations assimilated. Our samplermaker, Sarah Bowman, was from such a family and her sampler reveals her decided lack of familiarity with the English language. The inscription reads as follows:
“Sarah Bowman is my name ephrata is my station, amarica is my dwelling placn Christ shall be my salvation, the rosees are rad the leves are green the days are past which i haw seen, and when i am dead and in my grave and all my bones are rotten the lord remember my dear soul at least i be for gotten, Sarah Bauman”
“Sarah bauman was dorn in the year 1812 of aur lord Ganweary the 18 this sampler she seaet in the yer 1816,”
“Susanah Bauman, Lebeth Bauman, guly anah Bauman, Mary Bauman”
Sarah Bowman was born on January 18, 1801 to Jacob and Elizabeth (Baer) Bauman in Ephrata, a prosperous town northeast of Lancaster. As of 1816 when she made her sampler, her sisters were Susannah, Elizabeth, Juliana and Mary. The Journal of The Historical Society of the Cocalico Valley, 1994, published an article entitled The Bauman / Bowman Family of the Cocalico Valley: Printers, Papermakers and Tavernkeepers. We have learned much information about the family and Sarah’s ancestor, John Bauman (1703-1771). A copy of this Journal accompanies the sampler.
Sarah married John Bollinger and they had at least one child, Martin (1824-1848). Sarah died on December 9, 1878 and is buried in Bowman’s Cemetery in Ephrata.
The sampler is wonderfully appealing; a lovely wide border of open-blossomed flowers surrounds the inscriptions. Red and tan silk cording was carefully couched down to the linen, providing an inner border and further compartments. This is an aesthetically striking sampler which combines the Anglo-American tradition of samplermaking with the Pennsylvania German culture of Lancaster County.
The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted in its excellent original curly maple and cherry corner block frame.