Margaret S. Shillinsford,

Margaret S. Shillinsford,

Delaware County, Pennsylvania, 1827

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sampler size: 16½" x 17½" • framed size: 21½" x 22½" • sold

The samplermaking traditions of the Philadelphia, Chester and Delaware County area are very much in evidence on this splendid sampler made in 1827 by Margaret S. Shillinsford. Many motifs, such as the fine central leafy vine cartouche, double-handled urns with pendulous acorns, a pair of birds on perched on a stylized branch, two little lions and the large flower blossoms on branch at the bottom are among these characteristics and are beautifully arranged on this sampler. Another device often used on samplers from this area is the listing of family initials and Margaret included many sets of initials that line up to her family members. The border deserves particular praise as it showcases individual flowers in an unusual and appealing way. While neither side of Margaret’s family was Quaker, the influence of Quaker needlework patterns is clear and it is likely that her teacher was a Quaker or trained in a Friends School.

The family had been in southeastern Pennsylvania for many generations and used several variant spellings of the name; they seem to have settled on Shillingford in many of the historical records. Margaret was born in 1817 to James and Mary (Hoofstitler) Shillingford of Upper Darby. This town is just west of Philadelphia and was part of an original 1681 land grant to William Penn. James Shillingford (1787-1853) was noted in Biographical Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania of the Nineteenth Century (Philadelphia, 1874) as a black and white smith and edge-tool maker. He served as a sergeant in the War of 1812. James and Mary had nine children, Margaret was their fourth.

The sampler descended for many years in the family and is accompanied by information about the early Shillingford generations, indicating that Margaret’s great-grandfather, James Shillingford (1730-1793) died in the yellow fever epidemic of 1793. Her grandfather, John Shillingford (1760-1839), was a private in the Chester County Militia in the Revolutionary War.

Margaret’s parents were married in 1809 at Old Christ Church in Philadelphia. The Hoofstitler family (another one with many spellings including Hochstattler, Hoffstadler, Huffststler, etc.) in America began with the arrival of Amish family that came from Germany, settling in Pennsylvania by 1736. In 1740, Margaret’s grandfather, Jacob Hoofstitler (1701-1757) and his large family settled in the Northkill Amish Settlement in Berks County. In 1757, the Jacob Hochstetler homestead was attacked by Indians in what is known as the Hochstelter Massacre; some family members were killed, and the house was set on fire. Other family members were taken hostage and held for some years until a peace treaty was negotiated. An official Pennsylvania State historical marker designates the site now.

Margaret married John Heller who was born in Germany and is listed in Pennsylvania census records as a paper maker and later a boiler maker. They had at least four children and Margaret died in 1901.

The sampler is worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a beveled tiger maple frame with a black bead.

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