October 09, 2021

What is the history of Ann McFarlan’s Sampler from 1827?

By Birgit Tolman
What is the history of Ann McFarlan’s Sampler from 1827?

Ann was born in 1817, only 5 years after the was of 1812. I am sure there was a lot of residual talk in her parent's house from those days. The Bible verse stitched in the lower left-hand corner speaks of the time after Judgment Day when redeemed souls will rise from the dead and "soar to the blest mansions". 

Ann McFarlan Sampler 1827 Johnstown, New York, United States

Ann lived during the “Era of Good Feelings” in America which even though it sounds nice, still was a very divisive period. It was synonymous with the presidency of the fourth president James Monroe after the war of 1812. I often wonder why the young stitchers choose the verse or poem for their embroidery. She was born into a tumultuous time when religion was going crazy in America.

There are some findings that I was able to gather on when Ann grew up in New York State. The new religion of the American republic was evangelicalism, it almost became a “national” religion. It was a time when so many new religions sprung up that they could no longer be tracked. The Millerites formed under William Miller, Joseph B.Smith the founder of the Mormon church was in New York in 1827 marrying Emma. The whole central and western part of New York State in the 19th century was the home of what religious scholars refer to as “The Second Great Awakening.” 

I picture Ann in church every Sunday and what would impress a young girl age nine…well a judgment day verse would certainly qualify. The sampler is a simple blue-and-white and resembles the popular woven coverlets made by weavers in that region in the early and mid 19tth centuries.


Harry Tyler (1801–1858) Made in Jefferson County, New York, United States

 

Ann was born in 1817, only 5 years after the was of 1812. I am sure there was a lot of residual talk in her parent’s house from those days. The Bible verse stitched in the lower left-hand corner speaks of the time after Judgment Day when redeemed souls will rise from the dead and “soar to the blest mansions”. I found the verse in different wording in bibles, the actual exact verbiage I only found in old hymn books. It probably was the hip hymn of that time and sung at church frequently. Line six shows the text.


First published in “Sacred Music in Miniature” without attribution in 1812

 

I find listing her teacher Rachel Gorton on the sampler very unique, in my research I have not found any mention of her elsewhere. I would have hoped she made a sampler of her own. I have found nothing to date but will continue to search. This delightfully unique sampler, with borders illustrating buildings and trees, reveals the visual influences and religious concerns of the part of New York State where McFarlan grew up in the 1820s. Ann did both, she practiced her stitching to perfection for her young age and also voiced her religious convictions in this more than unusual sampler. She also died at a fairly young age (1817-1835) of 18 years. It could have been childbirth, but more than likely the 1836 outbreak of typhus coming from Philadelphia or the Cholera pandemic from 1832 to 1866 that was first felt in New York. The pandemic started in India and swiftly spread across the globe through trade routes. 5-10 % of the population died in large cities.

 Ann McFarlan sampler verse 1827

Verse at the bottom of Ann's sampler

I hope you enjoy this little bit of history. I love learning new things myself and find so many tidbits an eye-opener. If you want to stitch Ann McFarlan’s Sampler you can find it here: Ann McFarlan Reproduction Sampler