Olive C. Evans, with Lafayette reference,

Olive C. Evans, with Lafayette reference,

Weare, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, 1825

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sampler size: 21” x 18” • framed size: 24” x 21” • sold

A large and beautifully worked sampler dated August 15, 1825, this was made by Olive C. Evans of Weare, New Hampshire, a town west and a bit south of Concord. Interestingly, Olive celebrates Major General Lafayette’s visit to New Hampshire by boldly stitching “Lafayette” on her work.  After originally rejecting the city’s offer to visit on his “Farewell Tour” due to time constraints, Lafayette made a quick 10-hour visit to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in on September 1, 1824 to much fanfare from the city.

The upper register features expressive weeping willow trees. Interestingly, the upper alphabet displays the curly embellishments typical of Scottish samplers; this suggests that Olive’s instructress may have been of Scottish descent. The lower register includes a very lovely and precisely rendered footed, two-handled, striped compote, filled with fruit and flowers.

The text reads:

Hail lovely art                                                                                                                   Olive C Evans

My fond desire                                                                                                            Born May 17 1811

Whose Genius                                                                                                                    Wrought this

Fills the noble mind                                                                                                        August 15 1825

May you the love                                                                                                                 WEARE NH

Of thousands share                                                                                                                              

And your esteem be ever mine                                                                                            LAFAYETTE


Olive was born in May 17, 1810 in Weare, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire to Osgood and Judith (Cilley) Evans, the second of six children. Her maternal lineage is from the Cilley/Seely family, who emigrated from England to Watertown, Massachusetts around 1630. It appears that Olive was in the first generation to be born in New Hampshire. Family information can be found in The Cilley Family: Descendants of Robert Seely (Watertown – 1630 (J. P. Cilley, 1878) and is included in the file that accompanies the sampler.

By age 50, Olive had moved to Lowell, Massachusetts where she was listed as “Housekeeper for Physician Royal Call” in the 1860 census. Eventually, she returned to Weare and married Moses Dearborn (1805-1888) in 1867, at age 57. According to Genealogical and Family History of New Hampshire (comp. Ezra Stearns, 1908), New Boston-born Moses worked as a shoemaker and small-scale farmer and worshipped at the Universalist Church. A “public spirited citizen,” Moses also served as postmaster. With his first wife Betsy Philbrick (likely a distant relative of Olive) of Weare, Moses had thirteen children, nine of whom survived into adulthood. When Betsy died in 1866, Moses quickly remarried Olive in 1867. Olive died on June 4, 1880.

The sampler is worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition, conservation mounted into a burl-wood frame.


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