Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Herbarium #5: Clover Wreath for Almira Lincoln Phelps


Herbarium #5 Clover Wreath by Becky Brown
The block recalls Almira Lincoln Phelps.

Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps (1793-1884)
UPDATE: The more I look at this photo the less likely I think it's Almira. The dress style is circa 1860 I am guessing and Almira would have been 67. Not her style. See next photo.

Almira Hart and her older sister Emma Hart Willard (1787-1870), innovators
in women's education, were from a family of 17 in Berlin, Connecticut.
Emma founded the Troy Female Seminary, New York school in 1821.

In 1829 Almira, then married to publisher Simon Lincoln, began publishing science textbooks for schoolchildren and teachers. Familiar Lectures on Botany went through many editions in the 19th century under her two married names Mrs. Lincoln & Mrs. Phelps. After Simon Lincoln's death the widowed Almira, mother to 2 daughters, taught at her sister's Troy school.

Clover Wreath by Becky Collis

Account of sisterly rivalry in 1884

Almira then married Vermont lawyer John Phelps. In 1841 she was offered a position near Baltimore at the Patapsco Female Institute and the family moved to Ellicott Mills, Maryland. Botany was an important part of the curriculum and they planted a formal garden for the botanizing and herbariums. 

Enoch Pratt Library
The Institute's classical revival building overlooked the Patapsco River.

Virginia Museum of History & Culture

Maria Jerdone's herbarium, collected at Patapsco, came with slots for stems. Here's her page for wild indigo. The restored gardens at Patapsco today are named for Maria, a student from Virginia.

Maria Ann Glanville Coleman Jerdone Pettus (1833-1879)
Maria seems to have been fond of botanizing.
From her Find A Grave files:

John Phelps died in 1849; Almira retired in 1856, succeeded by principal Robert Archer in the years right before the Civil War. He went off to join the Confederate armies and then Sarah Randolph, a great-granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson, took over the school.

Robyn Gragg turned her Clover Wreath into a pentagram.

Almira made money off all those textbooks, enabling her to retire with $50,000 in real estate and $75,000 in other wealth according to the 1860 census. Her assets in  Baltimore---all too common at the time--- included slaves. Here 2 Black women and a man are living at her residence in the city. They must be free people as the census did not name slaves.

The 1860 Slave Schedule shows four enslaved people, 2
 unnamed women, a man and a two-year old boy. 

Despite her acceptance of the Southern economic system Almira remained true to her Connecticut culture as a Union sympathizer in Union Maryland.

Students at Patapsco in the late-19th century.
The school closed in 1896.

In the pre-preservation 20th century the magnificent school building fell to ruin
but the shell been rebuilt as a monument in a park.

The Block

Three similar wreaths from the 8 herbarium quilts
The quilt in the Shelburne Museum's collection tells
us it is a Clover Wreath.

Almira shows the Clover and explains the inflorescence.

And the ternate leaves. 

Red Clover Tryfolium pratense from about 1800

Working on a more balanced composition: larger ternate leaves,
rounder sessile flowers.

Clover Wreath by Denniele Bohannon

Print the pattern on an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet. Note the inch square for scale.

You might want to shade the clover blossoms by piecing
green and red strips

And placing your templates over the seam line.

My Clover Wreath, glued up and ready to stitch.

Almira gave a talk about her own Herbarium in 1874 at the Maryland Academy of Sciences where she seems to have donated the collection. It was quite an honor to be considered scientist enough to be a female member. She died on her 91st birthday ten years later.

Almira's Find A Grave files.

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