Fine American Sampler by Sally Paine Hemenway, Shrewsbury, Worcester County, Massachusetts, 1814

Occasionally a sampler offers a truly winning combination: a highly appealing pictorial scene along with a fascinating family history and Sally Paine Hemenway’s sampler falls into this category. The house and lawn scene is greatly detailed, with attention lavished on the architecture, fence, leafy trees and many birds. The doorway is surrounded by many small panes of lights and the windows, some of which are shuttered, have their mullions, as does the little window in the eaves. Of note, as well, is the brick path at the base of the steps. The verse that young Sally stitched captures our attention as well, as it expresses a competition between needle, pen and pencil in her hope that she will gain her parents’ love. Unusually, the letter “v” seems to have been used instead of “w” in each case.

Sally indicates that was, “in her ninth year AD 1814,” when she worked this; she was the daughter of Vashni and Sarah (Heard) Hemenway who were married in 1792. Born on October 14, 1805, Sally was the third and youngest of the Hemenway children. Vashni was active in town affairs and served as town clerk for 22 years, additionally as a selectman and assessor, as described in History of the Town of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, 1717-1829, by Andrew H. Ward (1847).

The Hemenway family in America began with Ralph Hemenway (1603-1678) and Elizabeth Hewes (1603-1684), each of whom was born in England. They were married in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1634.

In 1828, at age 23, Sally married Dr. William Workman (1798-1885) who became a prominent physician in Worcester. The Workmans had ten children born between 1829 and 1848. The Workman Family History by Thelma C. Anderson (1962) provides excellent information, which was supplemented by research from many other sources. One of their sons, William Hunter Workman (1847-1925) also became a physician, having studied at Yale and Harvard, as well as abroad in Vienna, Heidelberg and Munich. He married Fanny Bullock, daughter of Alexander H. Bullock, who served as governor of Massachusetts from 1866 to 1869. William and Fanny resided in Worcester for 13 years and then William retired from his medical practice; beginning in 1897 he and Fanny spent many adventurous years exploring exotic places, climbing mountains and glaciers, and writing a great many books and articles that were published in scientific journals. Their expeditions included trips to Ceylon, Java, India, Pakistan, Kashmir and Nepal. Fanny’s ascent of Pinnacle Peak in the Himalayas earned her the right to claim the women’s high altitude record for the first decade of the 1900s. In 1906 Dr. Workman was awarded the grand medal of the Societe de Topigraphique de France.

The samplermaker, Sally, also traveled extensively. She and her husband spent six months abroad in 1870. Remarkably, a copy of their passport application along with an extensive file documenting this unusual and fascinating family accompanies the sampler. Sally died in 1882 in Worcester.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted into a beveled cherry frame with a black outer bead.

Sampler size: 16¼” x 21”      

Framed size: 20” x 24¾”     

** We are best reached by text message or call, cell phone: 215-292-3568 **

Dealer M. Finkel & Daughter
Date: 1814
Origin American, Shrewsbury, Worcester County, Massachusetts
Artist/Maker Sally Paine Hemenway
Measurements Sampler size: 16¼” x 21”, Framed size: 20” x 24¾”
Inventory View Dealer's Inventory
Price $6,500.
Contact Amy Finkel, 215-627-7797 or

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