1804 Wethersfield Sampler by Polly Coleman

NSCDA-CT member Ann Burton displays the recently-purchased 1804 Wethersfield sampler by Polly Coleman (1794-1832). Photo credit: Gay Ayers

Quoting Stephen and Carol Huber of Antique Samplers:

“Polly Coleman (1794-1832)
Antique needlework sampler
Wethersfield, CT circa 1804

Silk thread on linen ground. Sight size: 19-1/2″ W x 10″ H.

Polly’s sampler is a typical example from an important Wethersfield group made around 1804 featuring a floral swag along the top and a landscape at bottom. A willow tree, a man and woman, a man on horseback, a fruit tree, a house, a little girl and another tree sit on a narrow lawn. The verse is missing a few words, but is based on a published poem by the Reverend Dr. Dwight in 1791: Look lovely maid on yonder flower, And see that busy fly. Made for the enjoyment of an hour. And only born to die. Extensive research by Betty Ring and other needlework scholars pinpoint the instructress as Abigail Goodrich, and she may have instructed Polly in her home or at the Wethersfield Academy which was just built in 1804. Abigail Goodrich would alter go on to work alongside two of her former students at the Academy, which now houses the Wethersfield Historical Society.

Polly’s great-great-great-great-grandparents, Thomas and Sarah Coleman, emigrated from England about 1634 and were among the first settlers of Wethersfield, Connecticut around 1636. The sampler maker was one of eleven children of Thomas Coleman (1761-1813) and Salome Kilby (1765-1831) who married in 1782. Polly, a common nickname for Mary, was born in 1794, a year after another daughter named Mary died at age five. The parents and both girls are buried side by side in the Wethersfield Cemetery, with Polly having died unmarried on January 30, 1832 at age 38.”

Reference: Huber, S & C. (n.d.). Polly Coleman Antique needlework sampler, Wethersfield, CT circa 1804. Antique Samplers. Retrieved September 17, 2020, from http://www.antiquesamplers.com/samplers/coleman,-polly.htm