An Opportunity to Secure a Rare Piece of American History

Written by: Ann Dillon, President General
November 25, 2018

This #GivingTuesday we have an opportunity to help the DAR Museum secure a rare 18th-century American Sampler, made by a little girl born in the midst of America’s fight for Independence.

One of eight children, Maria Antonia Hill was born in 1779 in Charleston, N.C. Maria moved with her family to St. Augustine, Fla., in 1785 or 1786, joining the very small community of wealthy Americans, mostly from the South and of British Isles ancestry.

It is here in St. Augustine, the oldest continually settled European community in North America that Maria worked on her sampler, stitch by stich. This beautiful pictorial sampler is signed, "Maria Antonia Hill her work dun (sic) in the 13th year of her age 1793.” 

Young Maria could not have imagined that some 200 years in the future, her artwork would still be telling her story—that her needlework would survive into the 21st century to inspire the people of this country. This Giving Tuesday you and I have the opportunity to see that Maria’s sampler has a safe, permanent home and that her story continues to be shared with generations to come.

We have set a #GivingTuesday goal of $35,000, with $18,000 of that to secure this unique needlework piece. All remaining donations will enable us to bring other significantly historic pieces to our fully accredited Museum in the future. This not only gives our Museum curators the freedom and resources to find specific pieces that help tell our American story, but also enables them to make future purchases without having to rely on separate fundraising events.

This is, by far, the older of only two samplers from Florida from before 1850 known to have survived the humid climate that destroyed many antique textiles. Although this pictorial American sampler shares overall characteristics with other American samplers of the late 18th century, the images depicted in Maria’s sampler do not resemble samplers made elsewhere in Charleston, Philadelphia or New York City. This piece is unique in both origin and design.

Once our #GivingTuesday goal is reached, we plan to proudly display the Maria Hill Sampler in the newly renovated DAR Museum Gallery next week during the DAR Christmas Open House on Wednesday, December 5.

I feel we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to add this unique needlework example to the numerous important historical artifacts that we, as Daughters, take to heart as part of our mission of historic preservation.

Thank you for helping us to secure a rare piece of American History and to continue to tell Maria’s story.

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