Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Young Nantucket woman paints Summer 1797

Phebe Folger Coleman (1771-1857) Summer - A schoolgirl copy of the Summer print of the Four Seasons Mezzotints published by Sayers and Bennett in London in 1785.  They were hand-colored allegories of the seasons.

Phebe Folger Coleman (1771-1857) Un receuil :containing painting, penmanship, algebra and pieces selected from various authors in prose and verse, with a few pieces in French with their translation by Phebe  of Nantucket : manuscript, c 1797. MS Typ 245. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Phebe Folger (1771-1857) was a Nantucket commonplacebook author, watercolorist, poet, needlework instructor, & creator of the well-known “Nantucket sampler” style. She was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, on November 10, 1771 to Walter Folger (1735-1826) & his wife Elizabeth Starbuck (1738-1821).  She married Samuel Coleman (1771-1825) in Nantucket at the age of 27 on December 6, 1798.  They had 2 daughters who lived to adulthood, & 3 additional daughters who died as children.  Her husband, Samuel Coleman, worked at sea.  She wrote him this letter during the 10th year of their marriage. Nantucket 9th mo. 19th 1808.  Dear Husband,  "I have felt a little guilty that I have deferred so long to write: but I had nothing worth communicating, nothing but what thou might reasonably suppose, that is, that I am very lonesome. Why should so much of our time be spent apart, why do we refuse the happiness that is within our reach? Is the acquisition of wealth an adequate compensation for the tedious hours of absence? To me it is not. The enjoyment of riches alone could give no satisfaction to me. In company I am not happy, I feel as if a part of my self was gone. Thy absence grows more insupportable than it used to be. I want for nothing but thy company: but there is nothing but what I could do better without..."

They moved near the Hudson River in Hudson City, Columbia County, New York, where they operated a grist mill.  Phebe continued to run the mill after her husband's death in 1825. Sometime after 1850, Phebe moved to Fairhaven, Massachusetts, to live with her daughter Matilda (1812-1891) & her husband John Milton Howland (1810-1902).  Phebe died at the age of 87 in Fairhaven.

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