Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Sarah Frame Toler, 1848-1941
By Grace Birgel, undergraduate, University of California San Diego
Sarah J. (Sallie) Frame was born in 1848 in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1867, She married Hooper George "H.G." Toler, a businessman, real-estate agent, horse trader, and director at Garfield University. They had three sons, Matthew Foster, Edwin C., and Sidney, born Hooper Graff. Sidney Toler, who became a famous actor, best known for his role as Charlie Chan, the Chinese-American detective, in 22 films. In 1878, Sally and her family moved to Wichita, Kansas only 10 years after it was founded. H.G. Toler died on February 14, 1906 leaving her a widow at age 58. Sally enriched every community she was involved in with her intelligence, sense of humor, and kind human nature. She filled many roles, including those of author, playwright, officer of various women's organizations, and leading member in a non-denominational Christian church.
Sally participated in a wide range of women's clubs and organizations. She served on the Kansas Woman Suffrage Amendment Campaign Committee, an affiliate of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The Kansas chapter gained ground in achieving municipal suffrage. Women in Kansas were at the polls and in the primaries. These women were heavily involved in political campaigns as organizers, writers, and speakers for the People's party, and the Prohibition and Republican parties. In these conventions, the Kansas chapter worked to get rid of the word "male" in the suffrage clause of the state constitution, and they also campaigned by agitation, organization, and education for voting rights. In May of 1912, Sally attended the State convention as the president of the City Federation of Women's Clubs. She was also a part of the Woman's council, Social Science Club of Kansas and Western Missouri, a charter member and early president of Wichita Hypatia, Kansas Women's Press Club, and helped organize a ladies' aid society in Wichita. She was the treasurer and the first vice president of the Equal Suffrage Association, and she was president and vice president of Western Artists and Authors Club.
Sally and her family were prominent members in Wichita social circles. In 1900, her husband bought the Toler auditorium, where they held many important political gatherings, conventions, concerts, and stage shows. In 1917, Sally opened a bookstore in Anthony, Kansas, and before her marriage, she previously taught in Warrensburg, Missouri. Sally wrote many plays like "Belle of Richmond" which starred her son, Sidney Toler. She was known as a "writer of ability," and her son often sold her witty, clever sketches to companies in the East.
Sally passed away in Los Angeles, California in 1941, after living there some time. She is buried in Highland Cemetery in Wichita, Kansas.
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"Sidney Toler (1874-1947) - Find A Grave Memorial." Find a Grave, www.findagrave.com/memorial/3093/sidney-toler.