Harriet E. Jenkins was born in Vermont sometime in 1815, possibly to John and Mary Jenkins. She was a little girl of 12 in 1828 when she worked on a sampler using needle and thread. She sewed white thread on a beige linen background. She included, as samplers typically did at the time, the alphabet in various forms and fonts. Then she included a poem:
Jesus permit thy gracious name to stand,
As the first efforts of an infants hand,
And while her fingers o’er this canvass move,
Engage her tender heart to seek thy love.
Harriet’s family moved to Massachusetts at some point, so that she married Joseph Wiggin April 14, 1836, in Stoneham, MA.
In the 1850 census Joseph and Harriet lived in South Reading, MA; he was a shoemaker, and they had two daughters. He was 37, she was 35, which is in keeping with the sampler indicating that she was 12 in 1828. One daughter, Harriet, was aged 11; another daughter, Mary Frances, was 7 years old, born in 1843.
Little is known about the life of Harriet and her husband. Much is known about her daughter, Mary Frances, who lived a long life, dying in 1931.