Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920
Biography of Sarah Jane Lincoln O'Brion, 1821-1904
By Gloria Polizzotti Greis, Executive Director, Needham History Center & Museum, Needham, MA
Secretary of the Woman Suffragists of Maine (?-1885). On the founding Executive Committee of the Maine Woman Suffrage Association, 1885-?1891; Vice-President, 1891-1900; Vice-President-at-Large, 1900-?. President of the Ladies' Department of the Ossipee Valley Union Agricultural Association, c. 1888.
Sarah Jane Lincoln O'Brion was born in Cornish, Maine on 5 February 1821, to Cotton Lincoln and Betsey (Thompson) Lincoln. She married Daniel Wilson O'Brion (1810-1896) of Cornish, ME, and together they had two children – Ellen O'Brion (1840-1843), who died as a child; and Charles Carroll O'Brion (1849-1915), who became a physician. Daniel Cornish was an Incorporator and Officer of the Cornish Savings Bank. The O'Brions apparently lived in Cornish throughout their lives, and they and their children are buried there.
Sarah Jane Lincoln O'Brion was long committed to the suffragist cause, and praised by Lucy Hobart Day as “one of the Pioneers of Suffrage work in Maine.” As early as 1855, she arranged for Lucy Stone to come to Cornish and deliver a speech on equal rights for women.
As an officer of the Woman Suffragists of Maine, O'Brion helped the Woman Suffrage Movement and the New England Woman Suffrage Association to organize a convention in Portland in September 1885, aimed at “perfecting a state organization that will increase in strength until political rights are secured to women” (Day, et al). The convention moved to re-form the dormant Maine Woman Suffrage Association, and establish it as the state's central suffrage organization. Reflecting this renewed energy and commitment, the first few years of the MWSA also saw the transition in its governance from sympathetic men to the women themselves, as many of Maine's long-time suffragists took on roles as officers of the organization (Risk, 2009). O'Brion served as an officer of the Maine Woman Suffrage Association for at least fifteen years, first as a member of its founding Executive Committee, and later as a Vice-President, and Vice-President-at-Large.
It is also worth noting that Sarah O'Brion apparently had the support of her husband in her suffragist efforts. Daniel W. O'Brion was among those who submitted petitions to the Maine State Legislature for state-wide women's suffrage in 1887, and for full suffrage in 1893.
Day, Lucy H., Helen N. Bates, and Sara P. Anthoine. "Historical Sketch of the Maine Woman Suffrage Association" (2018). League of Women Voters (69.129). 101. http://digitalmaine.com/lwvme/101 . Accessed 19 April 2018.
Harper, Ida H., et al., eds. History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6. (1922), [LINK]
Acts and Resolves of the Forty-Eighth Legislature of the State of Maine, 1869. Augusta, 1869. (via Google Books)
Biddeford Daily Journal. “County Correspondence: Cornish.” 24 August 1888, evening edition, page 2. https://newspaperarchive.com/biddeford-daily-journal-aug-24-1888-p-2/. Accessed 3 May 2018.
Risk, Shannon M. "In Order to Establish Justice": The Nineteenth-Century Woman Suffrage Movements of Maine and New Brunswick. 2009. Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 181. http://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/etd/181