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Historical Highlights

The Saga of the Sampler

By Eva Gemmill

A little girl named Amanda Reichard carefully cross-stitched a sampler at her home in Sand Lake in the 1840s. Creating such exquisite embroideries of alphabets and aphorisms was a popular occupation for early 19th century girls like Amanda. It was thought to teach them patience and other virtues, as well as needle skills. Amanda finished off the piece with her name, address (Sand Lake), and date of birth (1833).

Amanda's sampler; click to enlarge. Photo courtesy Rensselaer County Historical SocietyBy the spring of 1998, Amanda's sampler, framed and still very beautiful, had attained a market value that would have astounded her family. Somehow, in the ensuing century and a half, the sampler had found its way to Tennessee and was on the verge of being sold to a collector in Atlanta. Fortunately the owner very thoughtfully gave first choice to the sampler's place of origin.

Her letter of inquiry to the Town of Sand Lake, with a photo of the treasure, was forwarded to Bea Danks, then-president of the Sand Lake Historical Society. Not finding Reichards in Sand Lake, but knowing of Poestenkill Reichards, Bea phoned a Poestenkill Friend, Eva Gemmill. Meanwhile, the deadline on the Atlanta sale was imminent. One Reichard whom Eva contacted agreed with her that the proper repository for Amanda 's sampler was the Rensselaer County Historical Society, where he would subsidize its cost.

So moving briskly forward, Eva approached Rensselaer County Historical Society Curator Stacy Draper. Delighted with the find, Stacy quickly consummated an arrangement with the owner of the Amanda's sampler. The sampler is now in the collection of the Rensselaer County Historical Society. Now all persons who are interested in the skilled needlework of a little girl from Sand Lake (or possibly Poestenkill, since the two towns were not separated until 1848) can request to view it. Please call in advance of your visit.

And many thanks to the Tennessee antiquarian and Stacy Draper! (Above photo courtesy Rensselaer County Historical Society)

[NOTE: Efforts have been made to trace Amanda. It was first assumed that she would be the granddaughter of Michael Rykert who had a farm of 159 acres on today's Reichard Lake in the 1790s. This couldn't be verified in local records. But it's a nice thought.]. -- from the Fall 1998 issue of Historical Highlights

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Created 3/25/2000; last revised March 16, 2012 -- asm. © 2002-2023 Sand Lake Historical Society; all rights reserved.