Hannah W. Blackwell,
Eliza A. Rue’s School,
Pennington, New Jersey, 1836
In the late 1820s and 1830s there existed a school in Pennington, New Jersey, in which Eliza A. Rue designed particularly handsome and graphic samplers and instructed her students to work them according to the highest standards. These samplers, two of which are in the collection of the New Jersey State Museum, are easily recognizable for their baskets of lush flower and grape bunches, dramatic borders, extract verses and the very high quality of the needlework.
Betty Ring, in vol II of Girlhood Embroidery, illustrates a sampler worked at the Rue school, and we are pleased to be able to offer a new discovery to this appealing group, an outstanding sampler worked in 1836 by Hannah W. Blackwell. Mrs. Ring's writing tells us much about Eliza A. Rue, the descendant of French Huguenots and the daughter of Rev. Joseph Rue of Monmouth County, New Jersey. After the death of her father in 1826, Miss Rue began teaching and soon developed this distinctive sampler design. Two other samplers made at this school are published in Hail Specimen of Female Art! New Jersey Schoolgirl Needlework, 1726-1860 (Morven Museum & Garden, Princeton, NJ, 2014).
Hannah W. Blackwell was born on June 15, 1824, the daughter of David and Jemima (Burroughs) Blackwell of Hopewell, 5 miles from Pennington. Her grandfather, Stephen Blackwell (1756-1831), served in Carle's Troop of Light Horse, Hunterdon Militia during the Revolutionary War; he later became a captain in the militia. He was a farmer, constable and overseer of roads. In 1846, Hannah married Alfred Hurd, an engineer, and by 1850 they were living in Newark with their children and one of Hannah’s sisters. Hannah died in 1863 at age 38 and is buried in Orchard Street Cemetery in Morris County.
The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a beveled maple and cherry frame.