Julia A. Varnum,

Julia A. Varnum,

Dracut, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, 1819

Mouse over image to enlarge

sampler size: 14¼" x 15¾" • framed size: 17" x 18½" • sold

We always enjoy a sampler with an unusual family story behind it. The maker, Julia Augusta Varnum, was from a very interesting family on her maternal side - Julia’s maternal grandfather was known as the “famous Frenchman who settled in Dracut,” Colonel Marie Louis Amand Ansart, Seigneur de Maresquelle (1742-1804). He was born a Marquis and emigrated from Arras, a city in northern France, to Boston in 1776, and “due to his background in cannon forging and metallurgy,” he earned the title of Colonel in the Continental army and was appointed Colonel of Artillery and Inspector General of the Founderies in which capacity he served until the close of the Revolutionary War. His expertise substantially improved the quality of canons, which “in turn greatly helped the soldiers on the battlefront against the English.” Over the course of the war, Louis became good friends with General James Mitchell Varnum, a relative of Julia’s father, no doubt. After the war, Col. Marie Louis Amand Ansart renounced his French citizenship, renamed himself Louis Ansart and settled in Dracut, about 30 miles northwest of Boston and near the New Hampshire border; this was General Varnum’s hometown. Louis married Catharine Wimble (1762-1849) and their daughter Julia Ansart married Bradley Varum (1778-1857); these are the parents of our samplermaker. This information and more regarding Louis Ansart can be found in an article in the Lowell Sun (April 14, 2018). Many other published sources, including Wikipedia, provide further details.

Julia Varnum was born on July 17, 1807 in Dracut. Her parents had married there on November 13, 1806 and Julia was the eldest of their three children. Sadly, Julia died at age 15 on September 30, 1822 in Dracut, and is buried in Hamblett Cemetery in nearby Lowell, Massachusetts.

The sampler, made when Julia was 12 years old, is much like many very good samplers made in Massachusetts in the early 19th century. Alphabets, a classic verse and the inscription are carefully worked in black threads. A wonderful border of large blossoms and little buds and leaves on thorny twigs frames the composition on four sides and a lovely embellishment of flowering branches tied together with a bowknot decorates the interior.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in very good condition with some very slight weakness to a few of the letters and some minor darkening to the linen. It has been conservation mounted and is in its fine, original mahogany frame.

contact us

If you are interested in purchasing this sampler or item, contact us by phone (215.627.7797) or email (mailbox@finkelantiques.com) or complete our quick form and we will respond promptly.  If by some chance you do not hear back from us within 24 hours after submitting your message, please get in touch as it means we didn't receive your inquiry. Thank you.