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Stephen & Carol Huber:  Dealers in antique needlework samplers, silk embroidery, cross stitch, tapestries.

Saint joseph's Academy, Emmitsburg, MD 1831 closeup of buildings - Huber

Saint joseph's Academy, Emmitsburg, MD 1831 from Huber

Margaret Jane Wood (1812-c.1841)
Silk embroidered picture
Saint Joseph's Academy, Emmitsburg, MD 1831

Silk and silk chenille thread on a silk background, with watercolor painted sky, ink and watercolor washed monument and inked inscription with verse. Sight size: 22-3/4" W x 18-3/4" H Framed size: 29-3/4" W x 25-1/2" H. Likely the original molded softwood frame with a gilt liner. It has some modern, round head nails which may be later repairs.

Although not signed by the maker, a look through the appendix in Gloria Seaman Allen's A Maryland Sampling reveals that a girl named Jane Wood created a "piece of embroidery" in 1831 at Saint Joseph's Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. This incredible silk memorial contains a massive urn seated atop a monument as a focal point. A female figure, representing the embroiderer points at the urn. The monument is inscribed in ink "Sacred to the Memory of George Wood Died Dec 24th 1822." Below this is a handwritten verse: "Hail sacred shade! To mem'ry ever dear, For thee my daughter sheds the silent tear, For thee her heart by deep affection riv'n, Turns from the sacred earth & rests in Heav'n." To the right of the monument, and in perfect perspective, are all the buildings of Saint Joseph's Academy known to have existed at that point in time, hand-painted expertly by the instructress, Sister Josephine. Stitched just as expertly by Margaret Jane with silk and silk chenille, the scene appears almost three-dimensional, and her large and luxuriously-stitched willow tree anchors the foreground. In the distance, the blue hills surrounding Emmitsburg have been beautifully painted, detailing every tree. Nestled in the hills behind the female's head is a miniature painted landscape of nearby Mount Saint Mary's College and Seminary for young men. The talented instructress, Sister Josephine (Ann Collins, 1801-1850) had studied in Philadelphia before entering Saint Joseph's. This silk memorial blends the talents of a skilled 19 year old student and her extraordinarily gifted instructress.

From an online post at a genealogy website by the descendant who owned the sampler, the full name of the maker was found to be Margaret Jane Wood. She entered St. Joseph's in January of 1830, when she was 18. Even though the embroidery provides his death date and age at the time, George Wood has remained elusive. But knowing he provided his daughter with a fine education after his death, proves he was a man of means. Detailed records from the school's archive reveal that Jane also took music lessons and French in addition to embroidery. Payment for her schooling was delivered by two men who may have worked for her unknown guardian. Thanks to the descendant who posted the family genealogy, we know that Margaret Jane's mother was likely deceased. Around 1834, Jane married John Houseweart (1800-1857), a farmer from Pennsylvania. The Housewearts resided in Juniata County, Pennsylvania and had two daughters, Margaret Jane and Sarah, with Sarah disappearing from records after the 1850 census. The embroiderer, Margaret Jane, passed away by 1841 and John remarried.

Margaret Jane Wood's memorial to her father is in excellent condition and nailed to its original stretchers. A small sliver of the silk background at top was separated from the upper edge and has been glued back in place. Archival foam board was added to the back as stabilization, and archival tape was placed on the rabbet to act as spacer between needlework and glass.

The silk embroidery descended through the stitcher's daughter of the same name, eventually ending up with a great-great-granddaughter who died in 2012. Stephen & Carol Huber obtained the embroidery at an auction of this woman's estate in 2015, and then to the Campanelli Collection.


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