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Contact: John Hennessy, 540-693-3200 x 4100
The Sampler Begun by Martha “Patsy” Fitzhugh Before her Death Returns to the Place of its Creation after 220 years
The National Park Service is pleased to announce that the sampler begun by young Martha “Patsy” Fitzhugh before her death in 1793 has returned to the place of its creation. It’s likely the sampler has not been at Chatham since the Fitzhugh family moved away from the house in 1798. The sampler will be on display at Chatham for the next three months.
Patsy Fitzhugh began the sampler but died before she was able to complete it. When she passed away in 1793, it is believed that her younger sister Mary Lee eventually took up the sampler and finished it, including a memorial poem to Patsy. It is likely Mary Lee took the sampler with her when the Fitzhugh family moved to Alexandria in 1798 and kept it after she married George Washington Parke Custis in 1804. Since 1979, the sampler has been in the collections of the Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial (long known as the Custis-Lee Mansion).
Samplers were pieces of needlework—often elaborate—undertaken by girls to demonstrate both their facility with a needle and their knowledge of letters and numbers. The Fitzhugh sampler is the only known artifact to have a personal and specific connection to a member of the Fitzhugh family who resided at Chatham (1771-1798).
The sampler is on loan from Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, and will be on display at Chatham until July. Its arrival is intended to coincide with the major event “Artisans, Art, and History at Chatham Manor” on April 8, sponsored by the Friends of Chatham.
Chatham is a 1771 plantation overlooking Fredericksburg from Stafford Heights. The complex history of Chatham mirrors the history of the South—prewar prosperity built on a foundation of slavery, wartime devastation, and postwar recovery and reconfiguration. The house is open daily from 9 a.m. till 4:30 p.m. Admission is free.