Sunday, April 18, 2010

Documentation Day: Smith Co. Sampler

1834 Jemima Clardy Mclelin
Smith Co.
silk on 32 ct. linen
17 1⁄4"V x 16 1⁄4"H © TSS 141

Jemima Clary Mclelin (McClelin) worked a very unusual sampler. Her large sawtooth border at the top and bottom contrasts with the floral repeat patterns found along the sides. Jemima used drawn work for the centers of the flowers on the left, an uncommon technique in Tennessee samplers.

We were able to remove the sampler from its frame and photograph the reverse, revealing a purple alphabet and yellow verse.

Jemima's signature is preceded by text from a Baptist hymn. Her mother's name is added at the end of the second line, perhaps indicating that Susan taught Jemima.

O grant me then this one request
And I will be satisfied / Susan Mclelin
That love divine may rule my breast
And all my actions guide
Jemima Clardy Mclelin. Sept. 15. 1834.

Source for text: Stennet, Samuel (1727-1795). Verse 9, “Should Bounteous Nature Kindly Pour.” A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, Intended to be an Appendix to Dr. Watts' Psalms and Hymns, 4th American ed. 1819.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Salem Female Academy: God's Acre

Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord. Rev. 14:13.

I heard a story on the radio this morning about God's Acre, the Moravian cemetery in Salem, NC, and I was reminded of the short life of Martha Ross King, who is buried there.

Martha R. King.
born Jan: 9. 1821
Knox County
depd Dec: 28. 1835

In 2008, Janet and I spent a week at Old Salem's Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in 2008, researching Tennessee girls who attended school at Salem Female Academy from 1804-1908. Four hundred and eighty-two girls made the arduous journey from Tennessee to North Carolina in pursuit of an education. Martha Ross King and her younger sister Sarah Caroline King, of Campbell's Station, Knox County, arrived in Salem on June 19, 1835. The two girls were enrolling in their mother's alma mater. Isabella Sarah McNeil [King Wright] of Knoxville, Knox Co., had spent the years from 1815 to 1818 as a student at Salem Female Academy.

Six months later after the girls' arrival, Martha died in a cholera epidemic. Sarah remained a school for another year, departing on Nov. 25, 1836.

South Hall, the dormitory where Martha, Sarah, and Isabella resided

Martha was buried with other unmarried girls and women according to Moravian tradition, though she was not Moravian. The school archives contain a letter from the headmaster to her family in East Tennessee informing them of the circumstances of her death. The headmaster assured her step-father, Dr. William Wright, that Martha was provided with the best possible care and surrounded by people who loved her as she weakened.

Martha's grave is the eighth from the bottom on the left