Who says winter is a quiet time for museums? Yikes! Student applications, the new director search, grant and project proposals, 2010 final reports and on top of that the fiscal year end!
In the midst of all the administrative craziness, we ran across the following object from 169 years ago when things were probably a bit quieter in Queens County. This sampler was made by Sarah E. Tuck (28 February 1832-30 December 1906), a second cousin of Samuel Leonard Tilley, and is dated 9 March 1842. Sarah was the youngest daughter of Levi Tuck (27 October 1795 – 25 July 1878), a local carpenter and Elizabeth Tilley (27 December 1799 – 6 March 1875), Gagetown. On 18 January 1855, Sarah married David Berry (10 October 1809-3 January 1865) of Greenwich, Kings County and had seven children, including two by a second marriage on 17 October 1866, to her first husband’s youngest brother, Michael Berry (16 April 1824-31 May 1904). Sarah’s Loyalist grandfather, Jacob Tilley (1775-1862) and Samuel Leonard Tilley’s Loyalist grandfather, James Tilley (1773-1850), were brothers, both sons of Loyalist Samuel Tilley (c. 1740-1814) and Elizabeth Morgan (c. 1751-1835).
Samplers were usually made by 9 or 10 year old girls to show their developing needlework skills. The standard design is well illustrated in this work consisting of letters, upper and lower case, sometimes numbers (missing in this case), little poems or limericks and all done with a variety of plain and fancy stitches. The works were always signed and dated: on the right is Sarah’s name, age (10 years), Gage Town, and the date March 9th 1842. How many ten year olds do you know who can do this type of work?
As with any object of this age, condition is always a concern. This piece is very good with some minor loss in stitching around the perimeter and some fading of the brightly coloured threads for the letters. Losses often occur around the name and date; we are fortunate this is not the case here with Sarah’s name and date in near perfect condition. Over time, movement and handling, folding and unfolding, light damage and so on can destroy many of these types of textiles making them relatively rare objects. The preservation of this work is thanks to Sarah Tuck Berry’s great-granddaughter, the donor, Gracie Webb Mealey. Mrs. Mealey also donated a small document box that possibly belonged to Sarah’s mother, Elizabeth Tilley Tuck, and a Berry Family record.
Queens County Heritage also possesses the marriage certificate of Sarah’s sister, Mary Ann Tuck (born 1822) who married Nathaniel Vail, 19 October 1837.
For more information about this sampler, visit the Tilley House this summer or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.