Betsy Manchester 1793
Origin and date: Mary Balch School, Providence, RI, 1793
Linen count and finished size: 25 count, 13-3/4″x10″
Stitches: Cross, queen, tent, satin and stem
Source: The State Historical Society of Wisconsin
Some of America’s most recognizable samplers and silkworks were made at Mary (Polly) Balch’s school in Providence, Rhode Island, between 1785 and 1830. Seen here is a variation of her famous archway, one of the most popular patterns used at the school before 1797, although this especially graceful rendition is found on only four other Balch school samplers. Elizabeth (Betsy) Manchester was born in Providence in 1782, the daughter of John Manchester and Elizabeth Potter. She married Israel Arnold on May 29, 1800, and they had four children. One son, John M., born in Providence in 1810, married Caroline Cadmus in 1838 and moved with her to Chicago, taking his mother’s sampler with him. Betsy died in 1837. Her granddaughter, Charlotte Manchester Arnold, was born in Chicago in 1840. Charlotte inherited her grandmother’s sampler, and in 1858 she married John Chester Welles and moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their daughter, Frances Bradley Welles, donated her grandmother’s sampler to the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in 1944. It was worked on a very evenly woven homespun linen.