Ruth Ann G. Kinch, New Port,

Ruth Ann G. Kinch, New Port,

New Castle County, Delaware, 1837

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sampler size: 21½” square • framed size: 24” square • sold

The tiny state of Delaware produced many very excellent and interesting samplers made in the 18th and 19th centuries by schoolgirls from families of different backgrounds. Additionally, their teachers varied widely in their own cultural heritage and the resulting samplers show interesting diversity. An upcoming book, Delaware Discoveries: Girlhood Embroidery 1750-1850 by Gloria Seaman Allen, will build on prior research in this field and will publish information about one particular small but important group of samplers. These were made in 1836 and 1837 in New Port, a town just west of Wilmington. Dr. Allen’s new book will include our newly discovered sampler, signed, “Ruth Ann G. Kinch New Port Delaware April AD 1837,” a large and beautifully stitched example.

The Kinch sampler is now the third one known from this group and it is almost identical to the sampler made by Mary Elizabeth Penton completed one month later in May of 1837. The Penton sampler was part of the renowned Whitman Sampler Collection and has been at the Philadelphia Museum of Art since 1969. Another sampler, also quite similar but slightly less developed, was made by Sarah Ann Hilyard in November 1836. This is in the collection of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs in Dover, Delaware and was displayed for some time in the Governor’s Mansion. The Kinch and Penton samplers both exhibit excellent, balance compositions filled with many baskets and pots of flowers, branches with other large blossoms, a large bird on a low tree, classic sampler verse, and geometric bands of various patterns. Some of these elements share characteristics with the Quaker sampler tradition of the Mid-Atlantic States and others show the influence of designs that were gaining popularity in the 1830s throughout the country. Many different stitches were used, indicating a high level of expertise on the part of the as-yet-unknown teacher and her students. 

Born on May 26, 1822, Ruth Ann G. Kinch was the youngest of six children of Michael Kinch (1781-1850), of German descent, and Elizabeth Yokum Kinch (1786-1851) who married in 1805. Ruth was the youngest of their six children. By 1810 they lived in Millcreek Hundred Township, New Castle Co, Delaware and records show Michael Kinch served as a member of court-martial board there in 1813 and a member of the Delaware Militia. Michael Kinch was an innkeeper in New Port, as well as the town postmaster and died in 1850. His widow took over as innkeeper for a year until her death in 1851. In 1860, Ruth was recorded in the census, working, fittingly, as a dressmaker. In 1863 she married Jesse Kerrick (1820-1900), a brickmaker by trade, and they lived in Philadelphia. She died in 1914. Some of this family information was published in The Kinch Family: 400 Years of History by Michael P. Kinch (Corvallis, Oregon, 2005). Quite interestingly, this book included photos of another sampler made by Ruth Ann G. Kinch one year earlier, in 1836. On this sampler, which is more simple in nature, Ruth included the names of her parents.  We are grateful for the research that Dr. Allen provided regarding  the maker and her family.

Worked in silk on linen, the sampler is in excellent condition with one very minor area of loss to the linen. It has been conservation mounted and is in a molded and painted black frame.

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