Collections › MESDA Collection › Sampler


Garrett, Nancy
Place Made:
Caswell County North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
April 24, 1834
silk on linen
HOA; 23″ ; WOA: 19″
Accession Number:
MAKER: Nancy was the daughter of Thomas Lucas Garrett (1777-1857) and his wife, Susan (Simpson) Garrett (1781-1850), who lived in the western part of Caswell County near the Camp Spring Methodist Church. In addition to the quintessential urn, Nancy stitched a strawberry border surrounding four alphabet series, her parents’ names, and 20 sets of initials, many of them for members of the Garrett, Simpson, and Swift families. In the lower right corner, she stitched “Nancy Garrett/April 24th 183(4)/Caswell County/N. Carolina.”

A very closely related sampler by Susan Jane Butler, dated June 12, 1834, is now in the collection of the North Carolina Museum of History and shares many of the same characteristics of Nancy Garrett’s work. The Greensboro History Museum owns three other examples by Minerva Hill (1833), an unidentified member of the Graves family (unfinished and undated), and Mary Waynick (1843).

TEACHER: Of special interest is identification of the teacher, Rachel Pendergast (1810 – after 1870). It was common practice to include the name or initials of the teacher on needlework samplers, and the initials “RP” appear on the Garrett, Butler, and Hill samplers. In 1818, Rachel Pendergast advertised in the Raleigh Register her plan to open a school in Caswell County where she would teach embroidery, among other subjects. She was still operating the school in 1837 when she became the defendant in a well-known corporal punishment case. Her case went to the North Carolina Supreme Court where Pendergast was ultimately acquitted. Her teaching career may have ended in March 1853 when she married Thomas J. Judkins (1801-1866), the sheriff of neighboring Warren County, North Carolina. The five related samplers in this group document her teaching career and constitute the largest Piedmont North Carolina sampler group outside of Salem.

DESCRIPTION: To the left of Nancy’s inscription with the County and State the verse reads;”Tis virtue saves from every harm/ And calms the mind to Wisdom given/O follow then with interest warm/Her guiding hand,it leads to Heaven”. Above the verse on the left from the top down it reads: “Thomas L. Garrett/ next line Susan Garrett/ next line W.G.(William Garrett) / next line H.G. A.G./next line G.W.G (George W. Garrett) E.G (Emily Garrett) / next line S.F. M.F./ R.S. (Robert Swift) J.S. (Jane Swift) V.S.G. (Vinson S. Garrett) / next line J.M.G.(James Madison Garrett J.W.G. (John Wesley Garrett)….then the poem. On the right side starting below the small alphabet M.S.(Moses Simpson) / next line E.G.(Eliza Garrett) /next line S.G. (Susanna Garrett) then smaller A.S.(Ann Simpson)/ next line F.A.G. (Francis A. Garrett)/ then lastly just above samplermaker Nancy’s name is E.T.G. (E. Thomas Garrett). There are queen stitch diamonds on either side of the base of the spectacular central basket. Most of the initials and accompanying names are the samplermaker’s siblings.

Credit Line:
Gift of David and Anna Marie Witmer