Sunday, June 22, 2014

Susanna Riticor

I have to begin by apologizing for such a long post, but I really couldn't bring myself to split it up into a few posts.  Like many samplers this one is special and has a story which I am now ready to share with you.  First some background - I am a native Virginian who grew up outside of Washington, DC in Herndon, VA which at the time was still a very rural area with farms all around the town and roads that were in many places one lane and dirt.  Growing up in a place where so much history transpired resulted in me having a deep appreciation of the history and bucolic countryside of the area.  Thanks to my grandmothers and mother I also have a love for anything handmade and old.  My mother always has something she is making in her hand.  My father's mother was an interior designer which is where I am convinced my love of color comes from and my ability to find the center of a wall without measuring or using a level (drives my husband crazy).  I also have ingrained in me an appreciation of my ancestors and I enjoy finding out as much as I can about them.  The same way I love to research the stitchers of the samplers I have acquired.

Needless to say the town I grew up in soon was engulfed with high rise buildings, dense housing and plenty of traffic.  When my husband and I decided to return to the area we moved further out to what I always considered farm country and thought we would be safe from the growth being experienced to the east of us.  Our neighborhood is even designated by the Commonwealth as conservation land which requires buffers around the property.  However, seven years later the growth is quickly once again heading our way (now that I think about it maybe I should go into Real Estate investment).

When we first moved in we were probably the 17th house in the neighborhood and the market here had halted to say the least.  Fortunately, our neighborhood stayed pretty quiet which allowed us to explore the land and surrounding area.  One day my boys came home and told me about the chimney the kids had found.  Me being one for adventure decided to explore with them.  Up over the hill we did find a chimney still standing and a cleared area where a house had been.  The kids really enjoyed finding the hole in the ground which was the cold cellar for the home.  At that point I thought I really need to do some research and see if I can find out who owned the home.  Due to time and other distractions I didn't really give it another thought.  However, one of our neighbors was intrigued enough to spend some time at the town library and did research the property.  In his research he was able to find out who owned the property and contacted family members still in the area to obtain photos which he has shared with the neighbors and continues to do so as he stumbles across additional information.

The home which goes with the chimney still standing was built in the 1840's about twenty years prior to the start of the Civil War.  The family owned hundreds of acres and worked the land - we can still see cotton sporadically pop up in the open fields of the neighborhood.  The first spring we were here after the discovery of the chimney we liked to walk up and check it out every once in a while.  Imagine my surprise when we walked up the hill to look at the chimney and in the open area where the second chimney would have stood were daffodils blooming to welcome spring in.  The same daffodils that have bloomed for over 150 years.
Daffodils that bloom every year in the area of the homes second chimney
Daffodils are in the area of the second chimney just beyond is the chimney that is still standing
Susanna Riticor Sampler
Fabric - Lakeside Linen, Vintage Pear 32 ct
Silk Threads - Needlepoint Silks International
Stitch Count - 336 x 191
Model Stitched by - Marnie Kopera and LaDonna Snellbaker
Framed by - Sherri Berkmann of Total Framing

My new design is in honor of Susanna Riticor (January  3rd, 1815 to October 26th, 1885) who along with her husband lived here until her death.  Every spring one of the first signs we enjoy are the return of her lovely daffodils planted so many years ago.  The sampler design is based on the photos of the original home my neighbor was able to acquire from the family along with the fact the home's color was light yellow. 
Photo is of the front of the home which was surrounded by several varieties of trees.
I believe the chimney to the left is the one still standing today.
Front porch of the Riticor home which I have attempted to capture as accurately as possible
in the sampler all the way down to the screen door's wood trim.
The verse stitched on the sampler is from William Wordsworth (1770-1850) last two lines of his Daffodils (1804) poem, which I believe is very fitting for the sampler based on our annual daffodils.

"And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."

Seems Susanna loved everything to be bright and cheery.  In addition to the daffodils planted near her home same neighbor made an additional discovery about a year ago of what appears to be a former slave cabin with yet another set of daffodils. 
In the foreground of the photo appears to be logs stacked in the formation of a small log cabin
and just beyond the logs around the base of the tree are once again carefully planted
daffodils blooming many years after originally being planted.
Another view of the daffodils in bloom
This sampler has been in the works for a while, my husband kept asking me when I would start the sampler.  However, I could never get the design just right.  Finally everything came together for me and thanks to my wonderful model stitcher Marnie Kopera who stitched the majority of the sampler for me the model was stitched.  When I picked it up from my framer Sherri Berkmann of Total Framing I could see that everything had come together perfectly.   However, I must thank most of all my neighbor Gary for his persistence in discovering the true history of the land our neighborhood is now located on, for sharing his information and photos he took with me.  Gary also took the time to coordinate an introduction with Betsy the wife of Susanna's great-grand son Paul who gave me permission to share the family photos here and the additional photos that will be included with the chart.  My distributor should have the charts in a couple of weeks, but I couldn't wait to share Susanna's sampler.

I hope you enjoy my tribute to Susanna and
her annual daffodil reminder to let your heart 
with pleasure fill and dance with the daffodils.


  1. Congratulations to you on your new sampler, LaDonna! What a wonderful story you have shared with us about Susanna's home.

    Robin in Virginia

  2. A "masterpiece" LaDonna!

    Our community, Greene Mill Preserve, is better because of you!

    A LaDonna Snellbaker Fan,
    Gary M. Cuppett

  3. A beautiful tribute to Susanna and the footprints she left behind! ~*