MAHONING COUNTY, OHIO MINIATURE MENNONITE SAMPLER
Mahoning County, Ohio Miniature Mennonite Sampler
Lydia Rank Witmer
Silk on linen, 7.5” high, 6.5” wide
A simple marking sampler, with an alphabet string, dated 1848, and with a few flowers and stars. Stylistically, this sampler resembles a show towel, a popular form of needlework in Germanic communities in Pennsylvania and Ohio. In a late 19th-century, walnut frame with folksy carving.
From the collection of the late Joe Irvin of Wayne County. His notation on the back indicates that he purchased it from Henry and Paul Eberly of Dalton and attributes the work to “Lidia Witmer.”
Henry (1893-1993) and Paul (1901-2000) Eberly were the last two surviving sons of Jonas Horst Eberly (1859-1952) and Sarah Amanda Witmer (1860-1949). Sarah was the daughter of John Lehman Witmer (1828-1895) and Lydia Rank Witmer (1836-1904). Henry and Paul’s grandmother, Lydia, is the maker of this sampler, according to family tradition passed along to Joe Irvin.
Lydia was born in Beaver Township, Mahoning County to Christian Witmer II (1799-1876) and Susanna Rank (1802-1858). Both were from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Lydia’s birth is recorded in Mahoning County, so the family moved to Ohio sometime after the September 1833 birth of Lydia’s older sister Nancy and Lydia’s birth on September 8, 1836.
Lydia married John Lehman Witmer in Beaver Township on December 30, 1855. They shared a last name prior to marriage, but it isn’t known if they had some distant familial relationship. John’s family had come from Washington County, Maryland in the early 1840s. The couple remained in Mahoning County the rest of their lives, during which they had six children, including Sarah. It was in December of 1891 that Sarah relocated to Wayne County and married Jonas. They ultimately settled in Dalton and had seven children, including Henry and Paul.
Probable line of descent:
Lydia Witmer (maker)
to Sarah Witmer (eldest daughter)
to Henry and Paul Eberly (last surviving children)
to Joe Irvin (purchased in 1991)
Lydia would have been twelve years old in 1848—just the right age to stitch a needlework sampler.