The sampler worked by Emily Tinkham is a form typical of Shaker schoolgirl needlework. It is plain and unadorned, and its colors are those most often employed for Shaker samplers, medium shades of red and blue. The loosely woven gauze of the finished sampler was attached to a backing of blue glazed-cotton chintz, a technique not commonly found in samplers of this type.1 It remained unframed for over a century. Emily Tinkham was the daughter of Seth and Elizabeth A. Tinkham (1827-1851), of Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Born May 8, 1848, she was brought to live in the Society just after her third birthday, following the death of her mother. It was a practice of the Shakers to refrain from recording genealogical data on "adopted" children, or those brought up within the community, except for dates of birth, death, and "belief," that is, the signing of the Covenant. Emily's name first appears in the census records of 1860, as a "house worker" in the Enfield Shaker Community, located north of Hartford, Connecticut.2 She did not choose to sign the sacred roll, or Covenant, when she reached adulthood. Instead, like many, she left the Shaker community when she reached maturity. In the summer of 1900, she was living in a boarding house on Chestnut Street in Hartford. The city directory of 1921 indicates that she worked as a chiropodist. 3 Emily Tinkham, who remained unmarried, died in Hartford, September 2, 1926, and was buried in the Zion Hill Cemetery in an unmarked grave.4
1. Letter from Jean Anderson, librarian, The Shaker Museum, Old Chatham, New York, August 13, 1979, to whom I am indebted.
2. The birth certificate registered in Hartford, CT, gives Emily Tinkham's birth year and lists her parents as Seth and Elizabeth Tinkham, Windsor Locks. The death of her mother is recorded in Grove Cemetery at Windsor Locks, August 26, 1851, age 24 years. See also Federal Census, Enfield Township, Connecticut, 1860.
3. Information received from Robert F. W. Meader, librarian of the Shaker Community, Inc., Library, Hancock, MA, January 24, 1980. See also Hartford City Directory, 1921 and 1922. See also Martineau, Society in America, 57. Martineau observed, "I saw many a bright face within the prim cap-border, which bore a prophecy of a return to the world; and two of the boys stamped so vigorously in the dance, that it was impossible to imagine their feelings to be very devotional."
4. Date of death is recorded at the Public Health office, Hartford, CT. See also, Connecticut State Library, Hartford, records for dates and place of burial for both Emily and her mother, Elizabeth. I have visited Emily's grave site.
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