Some of Milwaukee’s earliest settlers were Anglo Americans from New York and New England. Among them was Russell Wheeler of Connecticut, who came to Milwaukee by way of Canada in 1842. Wheeler’s daughter Amelia probably made this sampler while she was a student at one of the new schools for girls established in the city. Wheeler identified her bustling hometown on her sampler as “Milwaukie,” which was an accepted early spelling of the city’s name.
The process of designing and stitching samplers was one way that early Wisconsin girls demonstrated their educational and domestic virtues. As in all other European-influenced settlements in early America, making samplers proved a young woman’s familiarity with genteel social roles and also stood as a symbol of her family’s investment in their daughter’s education.