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Williams, Eliza Ann
Place Made:
Yorkville Female Academy York County South Carolina
Date Made:
silk on linen
HOA 21 1/2; WOA 17 1/2 (sight)
Accession Number:
MAKER: Elizabeth “Eliza” Ann Williams (1823-1883) was born in York District, South Carolina to Rev. Aaron Williams (1789-1861) and Elizabeth James Davis (1792-1864). Eliza’s father, Rev. Aaron Williams, was a Presbyterian minister in the upcountry South Carolina Districts from 1819 until 1839. He went to Arkansas in 1842 where he organized and served in various churches before becoming a traveling evangelist.

Eliza Ann Williams was married in 1840 to Rev. James Woods – a Presbyterian minister. They served in Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, and Alabama, before arriving in California in 1850 with three young children. They moved to the gold boomtown of Stockton and organized the first Presbyterian church in California. Eliza Ann died in California in January of 1883 at the age of 59.

SCHOOL: This sampler is part of a collection referred to as “The Bethel Group”. This group of samplers were made in academies that were sponsored by or associated with Bethel Presbyterian Church in York County, SC. “Presbyterian ministers and their wives organized academies such as Yorkville Female Academy…” (Veasey, JESDA, Winter 2006, p.103).

The Yorkville Female Academy was incorporated by an Act of Assembly in December 1819. Benjamin Chambers became the principal of the school in 1823. The school was located in the McCaw house, the former home of Judge William Smith. According to Robert Mills’ STATISTICS OF SOUTH CAROLINA (1826), the male and female academies of Yorkville were “in a flourishing state. The same branches of useful education are taught here as in the most respectable seminaries of learning in the state.”

DESCRIPTION: Silk on linen sampler/ needlework picture depicting a blue footed bowl of fruit (variously colored) on a greenish blue surface below the name of the maker and a verse; below fruit bowl is the name of the Academy (see inscription); the whole framed by a satin-stitched garland of pink stylized roses and green leaves. The name of maker, central motif, and name of Academy are cross-stitched over two threads and the verse is cross-stitched over one. In gold painted frame with simple molding.

The verse stitched in this picture is from a long poem written by Lady Catherine Rebecca Manners, published in 1799. Review of Poetry, Ancient and Modern. A Poem.
Rough is learning’s arduous road.
Yet with brigtest [sic] flowrets strow’d.
Flowrets mid the waste of time.
Blooming in eternal prime.

RELATED OBJECTS: The MESDA collection includes a painting on silk (acc. # 3170) which was also made by a student of the Yorkville Femal Academy. The reverse of the frame contains the RULES of the academy, dated July 1820, and listing prices for various courses, including such subjects as flowering and plain sewing, drawing and painting, tambour, filligree and embroidery, music, etc.

Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund