Samplers by Sisters:

Samplers by Sisters:

Amelia and Ruhammah Larimer,
Library, Allegheny County,
Pennsylvania, 1828 and 1832

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Amelia sampler: 16¼” x 16” • framed: 20¼” x 20” • Ruhammah sampler: 17” x 16½” • framed: 21” x 20½” • sold

These wonderfully folky pictorial samplers were worked at the same school and were made by sisters who lived in the little town of Library in western Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh. Of course, samplers made by sisters rarely remain together after almost two centuries and these two are particularly interesting because of their highly compatible characteristics and visual appeal. Amelia and Ruhammah Larimer each featured tall houses with diamond shaped windows at the roof line and, variously, birds, trees, stylized flowers, stars and a young lady with her arms crossed. The subject matter, scale, palette and workmanship are remarkably similar.      

Amelia’s sampler is dated 1828 and Ruhammah’s has two years on it, 1831 and 1832, presumably the start and end dates of her project. They were the daughters of Ebenezer and Leah (Rigdon) Larimer, who married in 1816 and resided in Library, a town named for the fact that it contained the first circulating library west of the Allegheny Mountains. Ebenezer was a lawyer and the couple had several children, who are named in his Last Will and Testament, dated 1833. Specifics about Amelia’s birth have been elusive, but we know that Ruhammah was born on June 21, 1825 and so would have been particularly young when, at age seven, she finished her sampler. Similarly, much is known about Ruhammah’s later life, although little about Amelia’s; it’s possible that she died young. Ruhammah married Hamilton Rea and their first child, born in 1845, was named Amelia, it would seem for her sister. The Rea family removed to Richland County, Ohio, and Ruhammah died there in 1857.

While specifics about the school or the teacher responsible for these sampler aren’t yet known, the initials MT that appear within the stepped lawn of Ruhammah’s sampler are likely those of the teacher. There is one other known sampler that was worked at the same school. That, made by Jane Murray in 1831, includes depictions of precisely the same house and young lady.

Both samplers were worked in silk on linen and are in excellent condition. They have each been conservation mounted and are in maple and cherry cornerblock frames.

Images of the reverse of each sampler:

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