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Stephen & Carol Huber: 17th - 19th Century Needlework

Rhode Island, 1794 Needlework Sampler from Stephen and Carol Huber

Frelov [Freelove] Weeden (1782-1873)
Needlework Sampler
Rhode Island, 1794

Silk thread on coarse linen ground. Sight size: 9-3/4" W x 11" high. Framed size: 14-1/2" W x 15-3/4" H. Reproduction gold and black chip carved frame.

A colorful sawtooth border surrounds three sides of this small, naive, 18th century Rhode Island sampler. Within the sawtooth surround is a floral design typical of the area and time period. Central to the design is a red brick house and a colonial-costumed couple flanking a fruit tree. The sampler maker has stitched "Frelov Weeden Sampler in the twelfth year of my age 1794 BO" These last two initials may represent the name of her unknown instructress. The linen ground is primitively woven, dark and coarse, typical of other samplers from this time period and location.

Freelove's sampler is very similar to one stitched by Polly Whitmarsh in 1783 (Huber's Sampler Engagement Calendar, 1992) Polly was from Dighton, Massachusetts, fifteen miles east of where Freelove resided. This particular design may have migrated to Rhode Island or perhaps Polly was sent away for her schooling. There is a late 18th century schoolmistress in Rhode Island named Sarah Osborne. It is intriguing to think that the initials 'BO' on Freelove's sampler indicate a relative of Sarah who may also have instructed young ladies in the ornamental branches.

Freelove Weeden, born January 1782, was the daughter of Caleb Weeden (b.c.1749) and Susannah Capron (1758-c1808) who married around 1774 in East Greenwich, Kent County, Rhode Island. The family resided in East Greenwich. Freelove was married to a man named William Holden first. Rhode Island Vital records note that she married this "Mr. Holden" first, and second, Samuel Sisson. Freelove married Samuel Sisson (1777-1853) between 1815 and 1820, but all five children in the household, born from 1806 to 1824, have the last name of Sisson. Son Wanton W. Sisson's grave inscription reads: "son of William and Freelove." It is likely then, that after she married Samuel, all William's children took Sisson as their last name.

Freelove was last noted on the 1850 census, in Coventry, Rhode Island at age 68 with husband Samuel, age 70, who was a farmer. Freelove's sampler descended in her family, through daughter Julia born in 1824. Julia married Jason Lewis and the sampler descended to their son, Adelbert Jason Lewis, born in 1847. He married a woman named Lucy and had one child, Floy Montrose Lewis, in 1880. Floy married Frank Harbach in 1902 in Rhode Island. After Floy died in 1948, the sampler was sold out of her estate. It was purchased in 2002 by Neverbird Antiques from a Vermont dealer, and then to the Campanelli Collection in 2004.

There is minor thread loss to ground fabric. The sampler is conservation framed with TruVue glass.


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