Mary E. King, Houston, Texas, 1853

Mary E. King, Houston, Texas, 1853

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sampler size: 9¾” x 7¾” • framed size: 13¼” x 11¼” • sold

Documented American samplers of any type made in southwestern United States are exceedingly rare and, naturally, one would expect these needleworkers to use later forms of work. Mary E. King stitched this modest, but significant sampler, signing it, “Mary E. King Houston Texas May 11th, 1853.” She added that she was “Aged 13 Yrs.” Along with this information inscribed on her sampler, Mary presented the first and last stanzas of a poem entitled “Friendship, To,” signed V. E. Frederick, Maryland, and published in The Ladies’ Garland (John Libby, Philadelphia, 1838).

Mary Elizabeth King was born on August 18, 1839 in Texas to William Harrison King and Margarette Ann (Harvey) King, the first of their two children. Mary’s father was from Baltimore, Maryland but removed to Burleson County, Texas in 1837, prior to his marriage to Miss Harvey. As one of the leading residents of Caldwell, the county seat of Burleson, William in turn became Postmaster; he was a bricklayer by trade. In 1845, after the death of Mary’s mother, the family removed to Houston. William worked there as Alderman and then, remarkably, served as Mayor of Houston in 1859. He held a Captain’s commission from the Republic of Texas. The King family was a prominent one in the early days of Houston.

In 1860 Mary wed Canadian-born George Dumble, who came to Houston in 1854 along with three siblings and established a highly successful merchant business. They had four children, remaining in Houston, and Mary died in 1894. She, with her family, is buried in the Glenwood Cemetery.

Mary’s sampler remained in Texas, as well, up until very recently. And, confirmed by the image (below) of the back of the sampler, it was never any stronger in color than it is currently. Worked in wool on punched Bristol board, it retains its original brown pressed and patterned paper border affixed to the front. The sampler remains in very good condition with some very slight discoloration to the paper. It is now in a beveled, mahogany veneered frame of the period.

(image of the reverse of the sampler)

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