UNION COUNTY, OHIO SAMPLER
Martha Jane Reynolds’s Sampler
Silk on linen, in a modern frame, 19.75” high, 19.25” wide
Homer, Union County County, Ohio
Completed June 6, 1839
Condition: toning, fading
Packed with alphabets, numbers, names, and dates, this sampler also includes a fascinating verse:
With my needle and my thread,
Which now appears so neat
Before I was quite nine years old,
I did this work complete.
It still will show when I am old
Or laid into the tomb,
How I employed my little hands,
While I was in my bloom.
Young Martha Jane was born in 1830 or 1831 to Elisha Reynolds (1783-1843) and Sophia Burnham Reynolds (1799-1875). Elisha was born in Maryland but lived in western New York after his marriage to his first wife, Polly. The couple had eight children, the last two after having moved west to Union County, Ohio. Polly died in 1828 and Elisha soon remarried and had one more child, Martha Jane.
Elisha played a major role in founding, platting, and building the town of Homer in the 1830s. It briefly thrived, and had a number of business and a school (perhaps the school depicted in Martha Jane’s sampler). Unfortunately, after the railroad came through the area three miles away in 1855, the town withered and died. All that is left is an historical marker at the intersection of state routes 4 and 36.
Martha Jane married Luther Winget (1823-1906), a farmer, in 1848. The couple doesn’t appear to have had any children, and they remained in Union County for the rest of their lives. Most of the Reynolds family, including Martha Jane, is buried in the nearby Milford Center Cemetery.
This sampler is illustrated and discussed in Sue Studebaker’s landmark volume, Ohio Is My Dwelling Place: Schoolgirl Embroideries, 1800-1850, p. 162, and is identified as the only Union County sampler identified during the author’s survey.
Nancy Wagner, Dayton, Ohio