A Labor of Love: Memorial Needlework Sampler by Margaret Jane Cross

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Mar 15, 2013

"Taylor Cross deceas'd June 18 1821." Margaret Jane Cross would have been about 13 years old when she sewed this memorial sampler on natural colored linen. Presumably, upon completion, she marked the date - April 30, 1829. Judging from the fine, precise needlework and the detail of her design, this was probably not Margaret's first sampler. Elaborate decorative pictorials and memorials, such as this one, required skill accumulated through practice. Sewed by Margaret as a memorial to her father, Taylor Cross who died June 18, 1821. Margaret was but five years old, yet she must have remembered him fondly. This sampler was a labor of love.

When Young life journey I began,The glitt'ring prospect charm'd my eyes
I saw along th' extended plain. Joy after joy successive rise.
But soon I found twas all a dream, And learn'd the fond pursuit to shun.
Where few can reach their purpos'd aim And thousands daily are undone
Our hearts are fasten'd to this world, By strong and endless ties.
But every sorrow cuts a string, And urges us to rise.
~~Wrought by Margaret J. Cross April 30th 1829
As part of the preparation for adult responsibilities of sewing clothes and linens, most young girls completed "samplers." According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, decorative samplers and needlework pictures "revealed the values of the girl and her family to potential suitors. The completed work was usually framed and hung in the parlor, proclaiming the maker’s obedience, patience, and skill."

Margaret was born about 1816, the daughter of Taylor Cross and Charity Barnes Cross. Taylor Cross was the brother of Jesse Riddick Cross, my 3x great grandfather. So, Margaret (sewer of the sampler), was the first cousin of my 2x great grandfather, Dr. Wm C Cross, who was surgeon of the 16th AL. Margaret married Lassiter Riddick (b. about 1805) in Gates County, NC and the couple had at least 8 children. One son, Rufus, would serve in the Confederate Army.

Rufus M. Riddick Sgt. Co A 5th North Carolina Infantry (b. Sept 25, 1843) - enlisted April 17, 1861 at Suffolk, Virginia for the war; wounded May 10, 1864 at Spotsylvania. On Feb. 20, 1865, the surgical examining board wrote:
"Twenty one years of age. Five feet ten and one half inches high. Light complexion. Grey eyes. Light hair. and by occupation when enlisted a student......we have carefully examined this soldier and find him permanently disabled and cannot perform duty in any branch of the Military Service. because of a wound received on the 10th of May 1864. The misile struck the left thigh in the upper third causing a comminuted fracture. In healing, the limb has shortened three inches. The ensuing inflammation has produced an adhesion agglutinatious between the muscles themselves and also between the muscles and adjacent bone thereby preventing the complete flexion of the leg upon the thigh. This wound was received in the service of the Confederate States in the line of duty." [Carded records Fold 3]
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