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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst


Maker(s):Wheeler, Sophia
Culture:American (1821-1840)
Date Made:1829
Materials:textile: polychrome silk floss; unbleached plain weave linen
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Franklin County
Measurements:framed: 17 1/4 x 17 3/4 in.; 43.815 x 45.085 cm
Accession Number:  HD 2000.4.2
Credit Line:Gift of Karen L. Dunn

Unfinished needlework sampler done in silk thread embroidery in shades of green, either two shades of brown or brown and black, and cream on unbleached linen ground in a loose weave, which has the inscription, "Sophia Wheeler / AE 8 ys. 1829" inside a heart-edged, rectangular cartouche. Sophia Wheeler (1821-1840) was one of five children of Sophia Smead (1784-1843) of Greenfield (the daughter of Solomon Smead (1754-1825) and Esther Smith Smead (1757-1808) of Greenfield) who married Robert Wheeler (1777-1863) of North Stonington, Connecticut, in 1814, where they settled. Unfortunately, Sophia Wheeler died on the steamship "Lexington" on its run from Long Island to Newport, Rhode Island, on January 13, 1840. The steamship, built by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1834-1835 and known as one of the fastest ships afloat, caught fire in sub-zero weather and all but 4 of the presumed 160 passengers died. Sophia had been traveling with her fiancé, Jonathan G. Davenport of Colrain, Massachusetts, from New Jersey, where she had been teaching, to Connecticut to be married. The sampler has four rows of the alphabet in block and cursive letters, over a row of the numbers 1-13 and "Sophia," with each row separated by a different decorative pattern; over a flower basket flanked by two dogs, birds, and pots; over a large fruit basket in the left corner and "Remember thy c...", all surrounded by a four-sided flower and vine border. HD has a sampler made by Sophia Smead (HD 2000.4.1), watercolor profile (HD 70.132) of Sophia Smead, her wedding dress (HD V.053B), and a christening gown (HD V.053a) probably made by Sophia Smead Wheeler; a silhouette (HD 70.133) of Lovina Burke Smead (Solomon's Smead's second wife); and pair of lace sleeves (HD V.53C) from the same family but without any provenance. The donor is a descendent of Asa Stebbins (1800-1864) of Deerfield through Asa's son, Francis Ward Stebbins (b.1829) and Ellen Wells Stebbins (d.1872); to Francis' son, Roland Stebbins (b.1853) who married Florence Rebecca Barney (1856-1902) of Greenfield in 1879; to Roland's daughter, Ellen Wells Stebbins (1883-1980) who married Lloyd Herbert Lipp (d.1965) in Billings, Montana, in 1905; to their granddaughter, Karen L. Dunn. Ms. Dunn also found a note (in data file) written in ink in the family Bible referring to another sampler: "Sampler / Made by Abigail Smead [1787-1808] daughter of Solomon Smead of Greenfield Mass. in the 10th year of her age in 1797. She died in Jan. 1805 of spotted fever aged 18 years. The initials of A.P. stand for Abigail Smead. C. S. for Clarissa Smead [1782-1855]. S.S for Sophia Smead. P. S. for Polly Smead [1791-1807]. S.S. for her father Solomon Smead and E. S. for her mother Esther Smead. / Harriet E. Barney / Denver Col. Feb. 5th 1804" and written "Ellen Wells Stebbins" in pencil on the back.

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