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Sarah Rebecca Milligan, Kirkland, Belmont County, Ohio, 1849

This large and colorful Belmont, Ohio Folk Art House Sampler exudes a charm and naivete` that sampler collectors appreciate.  It has enormous appeal on all levels. Stitched by Sarah Rebecca Milligan, second of four daughters of the Robert Milligan family of Belmont County, Ohio when she was 15 years old, it came to us from a descendant of the sampler maker and elicits the best of American folk artistry. 

Belmont County was organized in 1801, early in the settlement of the Ohio territory, two years, in fact, before Ohio achieved statehood. It is in the easternmost section of Ohio known as the " Seven Ranges", comprising the counties of Columbiana, Carroll, Harrison, Belmont, Monroe, Jefferson and parts of Guernsey and Washington Counties.  Bordering on Pennsylvania, a narrow strip of Virginia and the mighty Ohio River, it is not surprising that the first migration was mostly from Pennsylvania and New York. 

Some of the early Ohio settlers left behind substantial homes and considerable wealth to come to the Ohio Country, according to Sue Studebaker in Ohio is my Dwelling Place. "Their daughters wore pretty clothes, enjoyed gay social events and had all the amenities that "families of the better sort" were accustomed to." Others, however came from ordinary families who had just "adequate homes". . . but who also viewed Ohio as a land of rewarding opportunity. To all, the importance of needlework skills for a young girl cannot be over-emphasized, regardless of economic status. While learning to read, write and "cipher" were not considered the most important accomplishments for a young lady, learning the art of house-wifery and proficiency in sewing was.

Our Sarah was a busy stitcher who left few open areas on the canvas. She was very proficient with the needle, filled the canvas to capacity, then surrounded it with an elaborate arcaded border. The impressive folk artistry and silk-work detail compares in its visual appeal to earlier New England folk art samplers . . . It is conserved appx. 20"x 20" and  has everything collectors covet . . . a fabulous large house in red and coral with architectural detail that includes pastel lime green shades with a light blue door; a charming beehive motif, an exquisite arbor with cascading roses, 2 large folk art hearts with parents' birth dates, 2 oversized folk art birds with suns above them, verse, and exquisitely detailed fruiting trees . . . one with the image of a rope to climb up and another that shades a well pump.

Sarah was born 2 Oct 1834 in Richland, Belmont County, Ohio, the second of four daughters born to Robert and Mary (nee Scott) Milligan. She married Mathias Grove, a farmer, on 26 Oct 1854. Together they raised a family of 6 children, residing in Belmont County her entire life.  She died 31 January 1931 in Belmont, Ohio and is buried in the Salem Cemetery in Hendrysburg, Belmont County, Ohio.  Sarah's sampler is in excellent condition, worked in silk on linen and conservation mounted into a molded black painted frame protected with Tru-Vue Glass.

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