Barbara Amanda Smoker,

Barbara Amanda Smoker,

New Holland, Lancaster County,
Pennsylvania, 1839

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sampler size: 15¾” x 17¼” • framed size: 19½” x 21” • price: $4300

This is an unusual and beautifully worked sampler, made in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The extensive use of the queen’s stitch, a sophisticated technique found far more commonly on 18th century samplers and other needlework than those produced into the 19th century, combines well with the composition. A handsome display of stylized flowers and other motifs is contained within a narrow sawtooth border and framed by unusual outer borders. The samplermaker was a thirteen-year-old Pennsylvania German girl, Barbara Amanda Smoker of New Holland, Lancaster County and she stitched the initials of her parents, Isaac and Ann, on the sampler as well. The name, Elizabeth Ann Franks, that was included above the samplermaker’s own name was most likely that of her teacher.

The Smoker family - the Anglicized version of Schmucker / Smucker / Schmuker and theses surnames were used interchangeably – in America began with Christian Schmucker (1720-1786) who crossed the Atlantic with his wife, Catherine Hesster (1722-1786) on the ship “St. Andrew,” arriving in Philadelphia on May 8, 1752. A published family history about the Mast family, one deeply intertwined with the Smoker family, states that Christian was an Amish Mennonite, one of the early pioneer settlers of this Pennsylvania sect. It is written that he was an exceedingly industrious farmer and a man of sterling qualities.

Three generations later, Barbara Amanda was born on July 24, 1826 in New Holland, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She was named for her paternal grandmother, Barbara (Gerber) Smoker and as is often the case within the naming pattern of the Pennsylvania Germans, she used her middle name for much of her life. Her father, Isaac (1792-1862) was a farmer, hotel operator and vestryman in the Lutheran church. Her mother was Ann, also known as Nancy, Ditlow (1798-1875) who was from a prominent Pennsylvania German family as well. Amanda married Dr. Daniel Henderson (1823-1849) and after his death, Jacob Mentzer (1824-1904) with whom she had five children. They remained in New Holland, where Jacob was a merchant and hardware dealer and Amanda, upon her death in 1878, was memorialized as a devoted wife and mother and faithful church member.

As a side note, the famed jam and jelly company, Smucker’s, was founded in 1897 by Jerome Monroe Smucker, who was also a descendant of the same immigrant ancestor, Christian Schumcker (1720-1786).

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a mahogany and maple corner block frame.

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