Needlework samplers are pieces of cloth embroidered with letters and images. They were usually created by young girls as documentation of the child’s stitching skills. They are also proof that the girl was educated enough to know her alphabet, which implies that the family has the wealth to educate their daughter. All of these skills displayed on a young girl’s sampler would later be used to present her as a suitable young woman when it came time to find a husband. One such sampler is the Welthy Andrus sampler. Welthy Andrus was born March 28, 1803 to Elisha and Anna Andrus;[1] the same year as the Louisiana Purchase. She was the youngest of nine children and the third girl.[2]

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Welthy Andrus Sampler, 1815, linen on linen. H: 15.5 x W:12.5. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, NY, Gift of Mrs. William Wilsey, N0123.1939. Photograph by Richard Walker.


Welthy Andrus completed her sampler February 20th, 1815 at the age of eleven years old. Her sampler is made from blue linen thread stitched onto linen. The linen was bleached, which has preserved the fabric from discoloring with age. Despite being over two hundred years old, the sampler has little sign of wear and has been framed. The lack of wear and the care that went into preserving it shows that it was meant as a decorative piece rather than something with a functional purpose in the home. She could have been taught by a teacher or by her older sister’s at home. Welthy carefully stitched her alphabet, name, age, the date that her sampler was completed, and where she was living, Richfield, NY.

She is listed in one census record listing that Welthy lived with her sister, Anna, at the age of sixty-one. She was still living in Richfield, NY[3]. Her last name is still recorded as Andrus, which makes it likely that she never married and never had children. Where and when she died and the circumstances of her death are unknown. Her brother Daniel, however, was recorded to have died on his 53rd birthday and was buried at Saint Luke’s Cemetery in Richfield Springs[4] in a family plot. It is possible that this is also where Welthy was interred. Besides what can be learned from her sampler, that is all that is known about Welthy Andrus. Ironically it was a piece of fabric that was created to find her a husband during a time when women were usually only identified by the men that they lived with that has preserved the identity of a woman who never married.

– Leigh Graham

[1] Hugh MacDougall, Records of Births and Baptisms,