Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Sarah Lucinda Ventress, 1842-1912

By Patricia Lyn Scott, independent historian, co-editor, Women in Utah History: Paradigm or Paradox? Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2005.

Alternate, Utah, 1908 National Democratic Convention, Denver, Colorado.

Sarah Lucinda Marshall was born on November 7, 1842, to Joseph and Sarah Carr Marshall in Fulton, Whitesides County, Illinois. She married William Cyrus Ventress on November 19, 1864, in Schuyler, Illinois. They were the parents of the following three children: Margaret Ventress (1865-1945), Martha "Mattie" Ventress (1867-1944), and William Henry Ventress (1876-1931). In 1885, they left Illinois, settled in Kansas, and operated the Sherman House, a hotel in Chanute for twelve years. In 1897, they arrived in Salt Lake City and became the proprietors of a boardinghouse, the Salt Lake House. On March 2, 1912, she died of a heart attack just moments after arriving home from a late meeting. Her husband was so devastated he never recovered from his loss and died on March 19.

Sarah L. Ventress was very committed to public service, being an active member of the Order of the Eastern Star. She was also very politically active, serving as a member of the Women's Democratic Club. Later it was reported she was "one of [only] three Gentiles (nonMormons)." On June 12, 1908, the State Democratic Convention was held in Salt Lake City to select their delegates for the National Convention. Women's Democratic Club President Elizabeth A. Hayward was chosen as one of the six delegates, and Sarah Ventress was selected as her alternate.

The 1908 National Democratic Convention was one of firsts, the first time the convention met in the West and the first time women were accredited as delegates (two delegates and three alternates). Utah and Colorado sent both a woman delegate and alternate, while Wyoming sent an alternate. Utah's delegation traveled together aboard a special train for the twenty-hour journey to Denver. It was met with numerous reporters anxious to interview Utah's women. A Rocky Mountain News reporter described Sarah Ventress as being "portly framed, weighing 200 pounds, and of gentle demeanor." He also noted that both her husband and daughter opposed women's suffrage. Newspapers across the United States listed the names of each delegate and alternate and proclaimed, "their votes will be the first cast by women in any national convention of Democrats." Unfortunately, the Convention did not discuss women's suffrage.

SOURCES: Illinois Marriage Index, 1860-1920 [Database on-line]. Provo, UT: Operations, 2015.

"Democratic Delegates Chosen," Salt Lake Telegram, June 13, 1908, 12.
Accessed: March 23, 2018.

"The Denver Convention," Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey) July 23, 1908, 10. Accessed: March 22, 2018.

Kelly, Kate. "A First for Women (1908)," America Comes Alive! Accessed: March 23, 2018.

"Mrs. Ventress Dies in Salt Lake City," The Chanute Daily Tribune (Chanute, Kansas), March 12, 1912, 2. Accessed: March 21, 2018.

"Two Women Delegates," Evening Star (Washington, District of Columbia), July 3, 1908, 8. Accessed: March 23, 2028.

"Utah Democrats for Bryan and Send a Letter to Grover," Great Falls Tribune (Great Falls, Montana), June 13, 1908. 1. Accessed: October 30, 2017.

Utah State Archives. "Utah Death Certificates," Utah State Archives Indexes. Database and images, Department of Health, Office of Vital Records and Statistics Death Certificates. Series 81448. Accessed: March 21, 2018.

"W.C. Ventress Died in Salt Lake City," The Chanute Daily Tribune (Chanute, Kansas), April 5, 1912, 1. Accessed: March 21, 2018.

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