Cynthia Eaton,

Cynthia Eaton,

Sutton, Merrimack County, New Hampshire, 1833

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sampler size: 17¼” x 18½” • framed size: 20¾” x 22” • price: $4000

This very handsome and carefully stitched sampler is distinguished by its freeform scene along the bottom, featuring a little house, animal, trees and birds with what must have been a depiction of the maker in her striped dress reaching for one of the flowers that embellish the oval surround of the inscription. Excellent borders of flowers and buds on leafy vines provide a framework while showcasing the maker’s skills with needle and thread. The center register is filled with alphabets and a classic sampler verse: “Oh! Thus when life’s gay scens [sic] shal[l] fad[e] And pleasure lose its wonted bloom When creping age shall bare my haed [sic] And point me to the silent tomb.” The fresh and youthful pictorial scene contrasts amusingly with the dark nature of the verse. 

The maker was Cynthia Eaton, born on June 21, 1821, the daughter of a farmer, Nathaniel Eaton (1775-1875) and his wife Sarah (Emerson) Eaton, both of whom lived their early years in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The Eaton family descended from John Eaton (1590-1668), who along with his wife, Anne, emigrated to America circa 1639 and settled in Massachusetts.

In 1801, Nathaniel and Sarah removed to Sutton, New Hampshire, a town near Sunapee Lake, about 24 miles northwest of Concord, and raised their family there. When Nathaniel Eaton turned 100 in 1875 the town marked the event with a large celebration, much written about in local newspapers.

Interestingly, the book An Eight-Generation Genealogy of the Eatons, by William H. Eaton Philip E. Converse (Willow Bend Books, 2004) notes that Cynthia was, “a very esteemed teacher early in her life.” This would have been prior to her marriage, at age 39, to William Henry Allen (1815-1898), a prosperous merchant. She died, age 93, on December 8, 1914 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Concord.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen with an original binding at the lower edge; it remains in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a figured maple frame with a black bead.

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