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Jameson, Mahala
Place Made:
Greenwood Seminary Spotsylvania County Virginia
Date Made:
silk on linen
HOA: 17 1/4″ WOA: 17 1/4″
Accession Number:
MAKER: This marking sampler was worked by Mahala Jameson in 1818. Mahala was one of four daughters born to Thomas Robinson Jameson (1769-1805) and Mary “Polly” Samuel who were married in Orange County, Virginia in 1792. After her father died in 1805, Mahala’s mother married Frederick Herman in 1810. The exact date of Mahala’s birth is unknown.

Stitched along the bottom, Mahala’s sampler does include a family register sequence: “Thomas Jameson Mary Herman Frederick Herman Samuel Ayrse Dolly Ayrse”. This family documentation singles out her father, Thomas Jameson (deceased), her mother Mary Herman, her step-father Frederick Herman, her paternal aunt Dolly Jameson Ayres, and Dolly’s husband, Samuel Ayres.

Samuel Ayres (1764-1824) married Dolly Jameson (1768-1848) in 1792, and the couple resided in Lexington, Kentucky, before later moving to Danville, Kentucky. Samuel Ayres was a well-documented early silversmith and one of the first to pursue his trade in the expanding frontier. At the time the sampler was made, Mahala’s family was preparing for a move from Orange County, Virginia, to Kentucky, so perhaps the inclusion of Dolly and Samuel was in anticipation of their reunion.

Mahala Jameson’s story ends in Todd County, Kentucky, court records. Mahala and her sister Susan died by March of 1822 and listed in the settlement of their estate is the sale of six slaves owned between them.

SCHOOL: The sampler states, “Mahala Jameson marked this sampler under the direction of Mrs. Hackley A D 1818…” In 1818 there are two Mrs. Hackley’s teaching in Virginia. Ann Duncanson Hackley (1778-1859) was teaching in Spotsylvania County and her sister-in-law, Harriet Randolph Hackley (1783-1869) in Richmond. Based on their close physical proximity, it is most probable that Mahala was under the tuition of Mrs. Ann Hackley, who advertised her school, Greenwood Seminary for Young Ladies, beginning in 1815. Hackley advertised as a teacher in the Fredericksburg Virginia Herald more than twelve times between 1805 and 1820.

Ann Duncanson Hackley was born in 1778 to James Duncanson (1735-1791) and Molly McAuley (d.1790). James was born in Scotland and immigrated to Fredericksburg in 1752. He served in the Virginia Regiment under George Washington in 1756 and was a successful merchant in Fredericksburg, expanding his business to the Shenandoah Valley in the 1760’s. Ann married Edward Stubblefield Hackley (1775-1805) in 1796 and they had four daughters. In April of 1805, a few months before her husband’s death, Ann placed her first advertisement in the Virginia Herald stating “Mrs. Hackley, informs the inhabitants of Fredericksburg, that she wishes to undertake the management of a school…” Edward Hackley died in August and by September Ann advertised a relocation of her school, revealing “that a change in her situation renders it necessary for her to remove from Fredericksburg to Germanna…” Significantly, it is in 1816 when Ann moves her school again, and she advertises “Greenwood Seminary for Young Ladies. Mrs. Hackley has removed from Germanna to this beautiful and healthy situation in the County of Spotsylvania, near the Wilderness tavern….”

DESCRIPTION: This sampler stitched by Mahala Jameson includes cross, eyelet, four-sided, and rice stitches. Four alphabet and two numeric sequences are included in this sampler as well as the following inscription:
“Mahala Jameson marked this sampler under/the direction of Mrs. Hackley A D 1818/Thomas Jameson Mary Herman Frederi/ck Herman Samuel Ayrse Dolly Ayrse”

RELATED WORKS: There are at least three other known Greenwood Seminary samplers. The Terrill family sampler (Acc. 5924) in the MESDA Collection is one of them. The similarities of these three samplers are notable in the “open window” houses, distinctive fruit trees with birds, and important family member’s names (including those deceased) stitched in succession on the top of the sampler. The Mahala Jameson sampler does not include the ornamental motifs depicted in the other Greenwood Seminary examples, but rather a representation of a straight forward marking sampler. In Mrs. Hackley’s 1805 advertisement she relates teaching “Knitting , Netting, Marking, and plain Sewing.” The alphabet sequence on Mahala’s sampler features the same lettering style as on the Terrill family’s example of Greenwood Seminary work.
This sampler documents the connection of Ann Hackley to her Greenwood Seminary for Young Ladies and to an established group of needlework samplers.

Another sampler resides in the collection of Colonial Williamsburg (acc.1990-39) made by Mary W. Tomlin in 1817. It includes the “open windows” house as well as the inscription “Greenwood Seminary”.

In the collection of the DAR is a sampler made by Martha Smith in 1824 (acc.56.20). While it is not inscribed with the name of the school, it is consistent with the other examples.

Credit Line:
Gift of Anna Marie and David Witmer