Biographical Sketch of Sarah Pease

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Sarah Pease, 1840–1909

By Kim Viner, independent historian, September 2017

Sarah Pease moved to Laramie from Crystal Lake, Illinois, in 1869 with her husband Lorenzo Dow Pease whom she had married in 1867. Mr. Pease was a prominent attorney and judge during his time in Laramie and was deputy clerk of district court. In 1870 she was called by Sheriff N.K. Boswell to serve on the first formal jury in the world to seat women. She served with five other women (and additional men) on the grand jury convened in Laramie, Wyoming Territory. When Sarah was called to jury duty in March 1870 she was a replacement for Mrs. Baker who asked to be excused.

Sarah's interest in public service was again noted in 1884 when she ran for superintendent of public schools on the Democratic ticket. She was defeated by Helen Bradshaw. However, shortly after the death of her husband, she was nominated again in 1892 on both the Democratic and Populist tickets and won a two-year term. She ran again as a Democrat in 1894 and was re-elected. Of note, her election in 1892 resulted in a lawsuit brought by her defeated opponent, Mrs. Lizzie Sawin, because Mrs. Pease received votes as both a Democrat and a Populist. The case was eventually heard by Wyoming Supreme Court which rejected Mrs. Sawin's complaint.

After completing her last term, Sarah moved to Battle Creek, Michigan in 1900. There she was also elected superintendent of schools. She died in April 1909. Mrs. Pease was the only member of the original grand jury who wrote an extended firsthand account of those momentous events that was printed in the Laramie Boomerang. It is through that account that historians can accurately judge the tenor of the community and the nation as the women served their community. Mrs. Pease made it clear that the women took their charge seriously, despite the ridicule and rancor that they faced. She noted that the women carefully studied the laws that they were asked to rule on and were not reluctant to correct the jury foreman, Mr. Frederick Laycock, when he misinterpreted the territorial statutes.

Sources:

1870 U.S. Census at https://www.familysearch.org/

Laramie Boomerang "Women on the Jury" October 17, 1889, p 1 at http://newspapers.wyo.gov/

Laramie Boomerang "Our Officials Qualify" January 3, 1893, p 2 at http://newspapers.wyo.gov/

Laramie Boomerang "Sawin-Pease Case" November 20, 1895, p 2 at http://newspapers.wyo.gov/

Laramie Daily Boomerang "Lady Formerly of Laramie Dies in Michigan" p. 2 at http://newspapers.wyo.gov/

Sarah Wallace Pease https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/15328106/sarah-pease

Viner, Kim. Laramie Wyoming Women Made World History. Laramie, Wyoming: Laramie Plains Museum Association, 2015.

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