Sarah Ann McCoy,

Sarah Ann McCoy,

Western Ohio or Eastern Indiana,
Mrs. Davis, Instructress, 1835

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sampler size: 18” x 16½” • framed size: 22¼” x 21” • price: $12,000

We’re delighted to offer this unusual, pictorial sampler with a highly appealing freeform, folky quality, and a subject matter rarely found on any needlework. A fine three-story house is shown in three-quarter view set on a lawn with leafy trees and what may be a stream running alongside it. A wonderful depiction of a young lady riding sidesaddle on horseback finishes this scene and the lower register shows a top-hatted young man tending to a horse partially hidden behind a tree, and several sheep and a goat. A silver-blue sky sweeps across the top of the sampler. The samplermaker gave credit to her teacher within the inscription, “Sarah Ann McCoy her work Aged 10 1835 Mrs Davis Inst …”

The verse, entitled, “The Wish” reads, “I sigh not for beauty nor languish for wealth / But grant me, kind Providence virtue and health / Then richer than kings and  more happy than they / My days shall pass swiftly and sweetly away,” is well documented on other American samplers.

Two striped vases, worked in the queen’s-stitch with filled with flowers, stand sentry at the sides of the sampler and a narrow border of queen’s-stitch buds on an angular, leafy vine finishes the bottom edge, with branches of flowers in each lower corner.

The sampler was made in either westernmost Ohio or eastern Indiana, where the McCoy family was living in 1835. Sarah Ann McCoy was born in 1825 in New Jersey, the daughter of Joseph and Mary (Titus) McCoy who were married there in 1823. By 1833 the family had removed to Hamilton County, Ohio, at the border with Indiana, where Sarah Ann’s mother, Mary McCoy, died in 1834. A few months later, Joseph married Nancy Gray of Butler County, Ohio and the family removed to Franklin County, Indiana in 1835, the year that Sarah worked this sampler. It was likely made in Indiana but it’s indeed hard to know whether the family lived in Ohio or Indiana at that time.

In 1841, Sarah married Eli Cain (1815-1900), a boot and shoemaker, and they lived in Brookville, Franklin County, Indiana. Sarah died in 1872 and the sampler descended to a daughter, Adah (Cain) Clark then to her daughter Lulu / Laura Viola (Cain) Whipple, in Connersville, Indiana, about 18 miles from Brookville. It remained in the family until just recently.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen; a photo of the reverse of the sampler taken prior to mounting (see below) is instructive as to the technique. It is in excellent condition and has been conservation mounted into a tiger maple frame with a black inner bevel and a cherry outer bead.

Image of the reverse of sampler

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