Collections › OSMG Collection › Mourning Embroidery

Mourning Embroidery

Artist/Maker:
Maker Unknown
Place Made:
Salem North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
1818
Medium:
silk –watercolor –paper
Dimensions:
HOA 7 7/8″; WOA 10 7/8″
Accession Number:
5929
Description:
DESCRIPTION: Needlework picture comprised of silk thread, silk chenille, watercolor, and ink on silk ground depicting a monument (large boulder) beneath a cedar (?) tree. Monument has inscription: Erinerung un 1818 (Translates to Memory in 1818). Delicate pierced paper is glued to the outer edge of the embroidery which is mounted on board with a laid paper backing.

HISTORY: This needlework picture descended in the Willingham branch of the Fries family. The daughter of Francis (son of Christian William Fries and Lisetta Fries (daughter of John Vogler), Rosa Eleanor (1887-1954), married Richard Furman Willingham (1885-1939) on May 17, 1909. The Willingham family was from Georgia and Kentucky so it is most likely that the needlework came through the Vogler/ Fries family. The inscription on the monument suggests this may be a mourning embroidery, but the combination of motifs is also reminiscent of commemorative embroideries made at the Salem Girls’ Boarding School. The year 1818 was a year in which a “fever” epidemic (possibly Typhoid fever) descended upon the residents of Wachovia, and several residents died. We have searched unsuccessfully for someone specific in the extended Vogler/Fries family who may have died in 1818, but it’s possible that this piece was made as a tribute to all of the people who died in the epidemic since the the inscription does not include the name or initials of a specific person. Most (all?) mourning embroideries stitched to memorialize a specific person include the death date and that person’s name or initials.

History:
HISTORY: This needlework picture descended in the Willingham branch of the Fries family. The daughter of Francis (son of Christian William Fries and Lisetta Fries (daughter of John Vogler), Rosa Eleanor (1887-1954), married Richard Furman Willingham (1885-1939) on May 17, 1909. The Willingham family was from Georgia and Kentucky so it is most likely that the needlework came through the Vogler/ Fries family. The inscription on the monument suggests this may be a mourning embroidery, but the combination of motifs is also reminiscent of commemorative embroideries made at the Salem Girls’ Boarding School. The year 1818 was a year in which a “fever” epidemic (possibly Typhoid fever) descended upon the residents of Wachovia, and several residents died. We have searched unsuccessfully for someone specific in the extended Vogler/Fries family who may have died in 1818, but it’s possible that this piece was made as a tribute to all of the people who died in the epidemic since the the inscription does not include the name or initials of a specific person. Most (all?) mourning embroideries stitched to memorialize a specific person include the death date and that person’s name or initials.

Credit Line:
Old Salem Antiquites Purchase Fund