Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Sarah J. Prentiss, 1823–1877
By Angela M. Keith
Sarah J. Prentiss was born on November 29, 1823, to Henry Prentiss and Mary Hart Prentiss. According to available US Census Records, Sarah remained unmarried throughout the course of her life, and in 1870, the census reported that she kept a home with two other young women, Clara Forbes and Flora Ripley. Sarah died on October 21, 1877 and was buried in the Tuell Town Cemetery in West Paris, Maine.
In 1872, Sarah Prentiss, along with colleagues Lydian Neal Dennett, and Mrs. A.J.W Stevens, gathered 215 signatures and presented them in a petition to the legislature that year. The Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Maine for Thursday, February 8, 1872 also notes that Prentiss submitted a petition with the signatures of 39 others from the Town of Paris, which came from the Senate and was referred to the Committee on Legal Reform.
On January 1, 1873, in the Woman's Journal, Sarah signed a call to action, inviting any and all like-minded supporters of women's suffrage in Maine to attend a meeting for the purposes of organizing a State Woman Suffrage Association.
The convention was held at Granite Hall in Augusta on Wednesday, January 29, 1873. Over 1,000 people attended the event, including a large contingent of legislators, and supporters from all over New England. The Honorable Joshua Nye presided over the meeting and was elected President of the Association. Mrs. Agnes A. Houghton of Bath spoke of the “Turning of the Tide,” the call for elevation of women “socially, politically, and morally, enjoying the same rights of man.” Additional speeches were made by Henry B. Blackwell, Rev. Ellen Gustin, and Mary Eastman, among others. Resolutions were passed which pledged that the Association continue its efforts “until the unjust discrimination with regard to voting is swept away...” The event was considered an enthusiastic success and was a touchstone on the path to a woman's right to vote in Maine.
Day, Lucy H.; Bates, Helen N.; and Anthoine, Sara P., "Historical Sketch of the Maine Woman Suffrage Association" (2018). League of Women Voters Mrs Wing's Scrapbook 69.129.2. 101.
Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Maine, Thursday, February 8, 1872 By Maine. Legislature. House of Representatives, Page 178
"Maine, Nathan Hale Cemetery Collection, ca. 1780-1980," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVJP-B4DS : 16 March 2018), Sarah J Prentiss, 1877; citing West Paris, Oxford, Maine, United States, Tuell Town Cemetery, Maine State Library, Augusta; FHL microfilm 1,316,116.
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.
History of Woman Suffrage, Volume III, by Various, Chapter XXXIV, Maine [LINK]
"United States Census, 1870," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M6DP-JBD : 12 April 2016), Sarah J Prentiss, Maine, United States; citing p. 66, family 586, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 552,050.