Sorry I’m late! That seems to be the story of my life this summer.
I can’t, today, even claim that I wasn’t near a computer. I was. But I was so enthralled with what I’ve been doing that I forgot what day it was.
It began on Monday when my dear friend Kate Walker told me that while she was out last week at an antiques place near where she lives, she saw a wonderful stitched sampler. She collects them – and I collect family history. And this sampler was both.
So she asked me if I could find out anything about the family of children whose names and birthdates had been painstakingly embroidered quite beautifully in tiny tiny stiches on this sampler.
There were six children, born between 1809 and 1822, two girls and four boys, and if the initials of the maker were anything to go by, she was Eliza, the youngest girl.
Armed with the names and dates, I went forth using Family Search and Ancestry and Find My Past, all very useful sites for those of us who like dead people, and lo and behold, before long I was pretty sure I’d turned up the oldest son. And then the older daughter. They’d both been born in Derbyshire. Then all four of the younger children turned up in the Hertforshire baptismal records.
I found the family in censuses and I was able to trace Eliza through her marriage, the births of her children, a move to London and back to Hertforshire again, and finally her death there in 1909.
Everything I found, of course, was the prod to ask more questions. Many of them have not been answered. Most will probably never be answered.
But between us, Kate and I feel we have rescued and recognized 12 year old Eliza’s efforts (she made the sampler in 1834). Census records told us she’d become a seamstress and a dressmaker. We’re not surprised.
Kate has a whole collection of samplers she’s rescued and given a home to where their makers are appreciated and visitors can marvel at the patience and skill of the young girls and women who made them.
As a terrible embroiderer myself, I stand in awe of their talent and their diligence – and I’m grateful that through research I can sometimes do a small part, as in this instance, to bring a light of recognition to their lives.
So that’s why I’m late.