Sally N. Butler,

Sally N. Butler,

Leominster, Massachusetts, 1799

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sampler size: 14¼” x 13” • framed size: 17¾” x 16½” • price: $4200

An exceptionally lovely sampler, this is signed, “Sally N. Butler’s sampler worked in the 13th year of her age 1799.” Sally must have learned her skill in the needle arts under a particularly exacting teacher as the stitching on the reverse is as precise and neatly finished as that on the front. Notable are the alphabets, pair of baskets filled with large flowers, bands of strawberries, sawtooth edgings and praiseworthy border of blossoms and leaves on graceful vines, all of which can be appreciated both front and back. 

Interestingly, we owned a sampler that was made by Sally’s half-sister, Maria Butler (1796-1854), in 1809. We featured Maria’s sampler in our catalogue 48; she attended a specific school in Leominster that is known to have been in existence for about a decade beginning in 1806.

The town of Leominster, Massachusetts, located about 23 miles north of Worcester, was home to Abijah Butler (1750-1822) and his wife, Mary Putnam (1755-1789). The Butler family had lived in the area as early as the 1660s. Abijah served in the Revolutionary War, marching in the first battle of the war, the Lexington Alarm on April 19, 1775, as well as others. They married in 1776 and had seven children. Our samplermaker, Sally Nourse Butler, was born on January 13, 1787. Her mother, Mary, died shortly after the birth of her last child, and Abijah then married Beulah Fairbanks and they had nine children.

On December 1, 1808, Sally married Dr. David Wilder (1778-1866), who came to be considered one of the most prominent men of Leominster. Along with his medical practice, Dr. Wilder served as State senator, represented his town in the Legislature and was Treasurer of the Commonwealth. A 1923 paper read at the Leominster Historical Society and subsequently published stated that “Deacon Wilder was a man of wonderfully staunch character, cool judgement and had a most acute insight into the affairs of human life. He stood by absolute principle under all circumstances …” Sally and David had 7 children between 1809 and 1823. She died in 1833 and is buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery in Leominster.

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

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