Saviniah Elizabeth Mish,

Saviniah Elizabeth Mish,

Mrs. Leah Meguier School,
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1810

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sampler size: 10” x 10½” • framed size: 12½” x 13” • price: sold

A highly significant group of Pennsylvania samplers that hold strong aesthetic appeal, dubbed by Betty Ring the “Samplers of the Susquehanna Valley,” is comprised of those worked at several different schools that share an overall composition and excellent needlework. One of the most important teachers was Mrs. Leah Galligher Meguier (1764-1830) and much has been written about her by Betty Ring in Girlhood Embroidery: American Samplers & Pictorial Needlework 1650-1850, vol. II (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1993). We are delighted to offer this small and unusual sampler made by one of the youngest students known to have attended this renowned school. The sampler is signed, “Saviniah Elizabeth a Daughter of Jacob and Catherine Mish Was born in Harrisburgh [sic] December 23 1802 and Made this Sampler in Harrisburgh [sic] in Mrss [sic] Leah Meguier’s School in the year of our Lord 1810.”

Saviniah Elizabeth Mish would have been 7 or 8 years old (depending on when in 1810 she worked this sampler) and reflecting with her age, it is a smaller, less pictorial piece than most from this group. The complicated stitches that she learned from Mrs. Meguier, however, are no less advanced than those taught to older students – splendid queen’s-stitched hearts and diamonds fill the compartmented border.

The Mish family in Pennsylvania began with John Mish (1729-1810) who was born in Switzerland and Margaret Swake (1738-1807); they resided in Cumberland County. Their great-granddaughter, Saviniah Elizabeth was one of at least five children born to Jacob and Catherine (Bickel) Mish. Published information from the Histories of the Counties of Dauphin and Lebanon in the Commonwealth: Biographical and Genealogical by Wm. Henry Egle (Everts and Peck, 1883) informs us about the Bickel side of the family, which also came from Switzerland. Saviniah Elizabeth’s maternal grandfather, John Bickel, was said to be a hero of the revolutionary war. The Pennsylvania-German Society Proceedings and Addresses (1907) indicates that her paternal grandfather served similarly.

In 1822, Saviniah Elizabeth married George Boyd (1796-1863) and they remained in Harrisburg. Pennsylvania Genealogies: Scotch Irish and German by W. H. Egle (Harrisburg, 1886) includes information about the Boyd family, indicating that George was a successful chairmaker, a member of the council of the borough and, “a man of influence in the community.” They had seven children and Elizabeth (as she came to be known) died in 1849; she is buried near her husband and other family members in the Harrisburg Cemetery.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen. It is in very good condition with areas of weakness to the linen; it has been conservation mounted and stabilized and is now in a beveled mahogany frame. 

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