Mary Hergesheimer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, circa 1808
sampler size: 21” x 19½” • framed size: 24 x 25¼”
Mary Hergesheimer’s sampler is a particularly fine example of a type of sampler that was made by Philadelphia schoolgirls in the late 18th and very early 19th centuries. Along with many other wonderful groups of needlework from this city, these samplers have been well documented and studied by scholars and collectors for many years. They are large works that feature a greatly developed house and garden scene, the lawn populated with sheep, flowering plants, assorted trees, dogs and birds. The upper register of these samplers is dominated by a large framework containing the verse that begins with, “Oh Support My Weak Endeavor,” a lovely entreaty. Mary Hergesheimer’s praiseworthy sampler exhibit all of these characteristics and was accomplished with excellent needlework throughout, in fact her house, animals and much of the lawn are worked in the tightest stiches imaginable.
Born on October 12, 1799, Mary Hergesheimer was the third of at least five children of Samuel and Elizabeth (Shubert) Hergesheimer, whose marriage in 1794 took place at the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia. In, 1817, at 17-years-old, Mary married Elisha Shoemaker (1794-1865).
The family of Elisha Shoemaker is well documented in Genealogy of the Shoemaker Family of Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, compiled by Benjamin Shoemaker (J.B. Lippincott, Philadelphia). Mary and Elisha lived variously in Philadelphia and in nearby Cheltenham, Pennsylvania. In the winter of 1839, the family – then replete with seven surviving children – moved west to Henderson township, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, in the center of the state. According to the 1850 census, their real estate was worth the considerable $12,000. The record also lists Mary’s older brother Jonathan as part of her household; moreover, it is likely Mary’s parents moved with her, as they both passed away in Henderson: Samuel in 1841 and Elizabeth in 1850.
Elizabeth Hergesheimer Shoemaker died on January 25, 1874 and her death is recorded in Huntingdon County as well as back in Cheltenham.
The sampler was worked in silk in linen and is in excellent condition, with one very small spot of wear to the linen. It has been conservation mounted and is in its outstanding original frame which is black painted with gold-leaf corner embellishments.