Samplers by Sisters:

Samplers by Sisters:

Jane Johnson and Belinda Hills Johnson
Leominster, Massachusetts, 1819 and 1826

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Jane’s sampler size: 16½” x 17” • frame size: 20½” x 21” • Belinda Hill’s sampler size: 11¾” x 11¼” • frame size: 15¼” x 14¾” • sold

An instructress of considerable skill was teaching girls in Leominster, a town north of Worcester, Massachusetts, as evidenced by a group of excellent samplers made from about 1805 to the mid-1820s by girls from that town. Fully developed borders of flower blossoms on leafy vines, worked in a beautiful, organic fashion, surround octagonal or round inner frameworks. The larger samplers all feature the same appealing verse that begins with, “How blest the maid whom circling years improve” and goes on to note that she divides her time between the book, the needle and the pen.

We are pleased to offer a pair of these Leominster samplers made by sisters Jane Johnson and Belinda Hills Johnson, in 1819 and 1826, respectively; that they have remained together for these many years is fortunate. Their parents were Ephraim Johnson (1761-1857) and Jane (Stewart) Johnson (1775-1849), both of whom spent their lives in Leominster, and raised ten children. Ephraim was the son of Stephen and Dorothy (Whitcomb) Johnson who married in Leominster in 1757. Much information about the family is published in Genealogy of the Descendants of John White of Wenham and Lancaster, Massachusetts by Almira Larkin White (Haverhill, Mass., 1905), and we learned that Stephen was a “very spirited man and held many offices of public trust, was town clerk from 1767 to 1775.” Ephraim served in the Revolutionary War beginning in 1780, when he was 18 years old.

Jane was born in 1807 as their fifth child and Belinda, their tenth child, was born in 1817. Interestingly, the girls were sent to the same school, although seven years apart; this likely speaks to the importance of this particular teacher to the town. Jane’s sampler was worked in 1819 when she was age 11 and Belinda’s sampler is dated 1826, worked when she was only 8 years old. The difference in skill between the girls is notable and understandable.

In 1853, when she was 46 years old, Jane married Asa Johnson Newhall of Leominster; she died in 1895. Belinda married Charles Cushing Boyden in 1838 when she was 20. They became the parents of nine children, also remaining in Leominster. Belinda died in 1884. In that Jane didn’t have children, it’s likely that her needlework joined that made by Belinda and the two samplers descended in the family together.

The samplers are both worked in silk on linen and in excellent condition. They have been conservation mounted and each in a mahogany beveled frame with a maple outer bead.

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