Lucy Drury Stickney was the daughter of William Stickney (1783-1868) and Margaret Nowell (1792-1840). Born in 1818, she was named for her father’s first wife, Lucy Drury (1787-1812), with whom he had had two sons. Margaret bore him six daughters and two sons, one of whom died in infancy. William Stickney began his career as a Boston grocer before founding a successful mustard and spice firm. In 1827, he moved his family and business to Charlestown, where he married a third time after the death of Lucy’s mother. His company, eventually incorporated under the name of Stickney & Poor Spice Co., continued to thrive throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
In 1833, at the age of fifteen, Lucy married Hervey Zury Kimball (1811-1886), a leather dresser. Of the couple’s fourteen children, only five survived past the age of two: Amanda Melvina (born 1834), William Henry Stickney (born 1840), Lucy Maria (1845-1853), Samuel Howell Kimball (born 1848), and Frederick Stickney (born 1858). Lucy and her husband initially lived in Charlestown, but from at least 1839 to 1840 they were living in New York City, where two of their children were born. The family was back in Charlestown by 1842, and had moved to Malden, Massachusetts, by 1860. Lucy was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and was very active in Malden social and charitable organizations. She was one of the original promoters and founders of the city’s Old People’s Home. Lucy died in 1902 at the age of eighty-four.
Lucy’s sampler is bordered by a naturalistic garland of roses secured by bows of blue ribbon at its upper corners. At the bottom of the sampler, below three alphabets, a verse, and an inscription, is a stately house in a park-like setting with trees and a body of water. This idyllic scene is a combination of watercolor and embroidery. The painted areas were most likely the work of a professional artist or a skilled instructress.
Jennifer N. Johnson holds a degree from the Parsons/Cooper-Hewitt Master’s Program in the History of Decorative Arts and Design. While pursuing her studies, she completed a two-year fellowship researching the Cooper-Hewitt’s American sampler collection. She is currently a Marcia Brady Tucker Fellow in the American Decorative Arts department at Yale University Art Gallery.