Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Sarah Ann Sophia (Myers) Rich Latimer, 1826-1904
By John Sheehy, Penngrove, California
- Sonoma County Woman Suffrage Association, 1869, vice president
- California Woman Suffrage Association 1870 Inaugural Convention, delegate
- California Woman Suffrage Association, vice president, 1870-74
- California Women's Silk Culture Association, board member, 1882
Sarah Myers Rich Latimer was born in 1826 in Lambertville, New Jersey, the sixth child of Abraham Dillion Myers (1789-1872) and Martha Preston Gillingham (1788-1844). Shortly after losing her mother at the age of nineteen, Sarah married John Pennington Rich (1815-1862), a construction engineer, and moved with him to Massachusetts and Maine, where she became a member of the Swedenborgian Church.
Over the next fifteen years Sarah gave birth to three boys, one of whom died in infancy, and two girls. In 1862, the family sailed to California via the Isthmus of Panama route, where they settled on a 480-acre ranch of fruit trees, cattle, and mineral springs in town of Windsor, Sonoma County, adjacent to farms of Sarah's father and brother, who had settled there in the mid-1850s. Sarah named the ranch Glen Valley Springs. Tragically, Sarah's husband John died from malaria six months after their arrival, leaving Sarah to run the ranch.
In 1865, Sarah married thirty-five-year-old Lorenzo Dow Latimer (1830-1901), a Santa Rosa attorney, whose first two wives had died prematurely, each leaving him with a young child. A prominent leader of the Sonoma County Republican Party, he ran unsuccessfully for the state senate the year he married Sarah, followed by two unsuccessful campaigns for county judge. In December 1869, he was appointed California's U.S. District Attorney, a position based in San Francisco that he held for the next decade.
That same month, Sarah participated in the formation of the Sonoma County Woman Suffrage Association held at the Petaluma home of fellow Swedenborgian, Abigail Haskell. In late January 1870, she accompanied Haskell to the inaugural convention of the California Woman Suffrage Association in San Francisco, where Haskell was elected president and Sarah vice president. Sarah also became an officer of the local chapter of the International Order of Good Templars, a national temperance organization promoting abstinence (a position she may have modified once she and Lorenzo added a large vineyard to their ranch).
In 1880, Lorenzo was appointed to fill the remaining eight months of the term of the deceased Superior Court Judge of San Francisco, after which he maintained a law partnership in San Francisco until 1886. During the years Lorenzo worked in San Francisco, the couple commuted between Glen Valley Springs and the city, where Sarah remained engaged with the California Woman Suffrage Association, participated in philanthropic affairs, including the founding of the Hospital for Children, and served as a delegate to the national regional Swedenborgian conventions.
She also joined the board of the California Women's Silk Culture Association, an initiative by women suffragists in the 1880s to foster the cultivation of mulberry trees and silk production as a means of providing work to unemployed women and children.
In 1878, Sarah returned full time to her ranch, which had grown to almost 1,000 acres, and converted it into a hot springs resort, which she managed with the help of her son William Rich. She passed away in 1904, a few years after her husband, surrounded by her family at Glen Valley Springs.
Annual Report of the Women's Silk Culture Association of the United States, Volume 3 (Philadelphia, April 1883).
Klose, Nelson, "Sericulture in the United States," Agricultural History Vol. 37, No. 4 (Oct. 1963) pp. 225-234.
Rich, Elinor, Along Family Lines, the family history of the Rich Family, Windsor Museum & Historical Society.
Journals of 37th-46th General Conventions of the New Jerusalem. General convention of the Church of New Jerusalem (Swedenborg Church) in Chicago, June 9-13, 1871.
New Church Messenger. Vol. 88, 1904, "Latimer," p. 211.
Oakland Tribune. November 17, 1886.
Petaluma Argus. "Appointed," December 18, 1869; May 14, 1870.
Petaluma Argus-Courier. "The Death of William B. Rich," April 27, 1933.
Petaluma Courier: May 19, 1880. "Former Local Woman Dead," January 29, 1925.
Sacramento Bee: "Deaths," February 20, 1858; "Marriages," November 27, 1860; "Deaths," October 8, 1864; "State, County, and City Officers," December 24, 1880.
San Francisco Call. "Swedenborgian Church," October 13, 1895.
San Francisco Chronicle. "Hospital for Children," January 13, 1887.
San Francisco Examiner. "The City's Vote," November 5, 1880; Ad, March 9, 1881; "Silk Culture," January 21, 1882; "The Juice of the Grape," January 11, 1887.
Santa Rosa Republican. "Death of Mrs. Latimer," March 9, 1904.
Sonoma Democrat. March 31, 1859.