Mary D. Welch,

Mary D. Welch,

Genealogy Sampler, Portland, Maine, circa 1828

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sampler size: 17” x 16” • framed size: 21¾” x 20¼” • sold

The town of Portland, Maine, a thriving seaport in the early 19th century, was also where the “largest and most important groups of Maine embroideries and striking samplers” were produced. “The samplers and needlework pictures of Portland are easily recognized, and both forms reflect the extraordinary interest in genealogies that endured in this region in the first forty years of the nineteenth century,” according to Betty Ring, Girlhood Embroidery, Vol. I, page 249 (Knopf, 1993). 

Some of the finest of these samplers are entitled “Genealogy” and feature fine Federal houses on lawns with animals, flowers and trees, along with listings of family births, marriages and deaths, and borders worked in the very difficult to accomplish Queen’s stitch. Our Mary Welch sampler is an excellent example of this type.

Mary was born on January 18, 1816, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, just south of Portland. Her parents were James Welch (1791-1816) and Harriet (Stanford) Welch (1797-1817), who had married in 1814. Sadly, as stitched on the sampler, both of Mary’s parents died before her second birthday; she was likely raised by grandparents. In 1833, Mary married Ebenezer Small (1811-1888), a ship carpenter from Gray, Maine. They became the parents of eight children and lived in the Portland area. The first two children were named for her late parents, James and Harriet. Mary died in 1877 and is buried in South Portland Cemetery. 

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a beveled cherry frame. 


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