Sarah Osborn Letters, 1743-1779
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- Abstract / Summary
Sarah Haggar Osborn (1714-1796) was born in London, the daughter of Benjamin and Susanna Haggar. She arrived in New England in 1722 with her family, who eventually settled in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1729. In 1731, she married Samuel Wheaten ( -1733), who died at sea two years later. She started teaching school to support her family in 1734, and in 1737 was admitted to the Congregational Church in Newport.
In 1741, Sarah Haggar Wheaten founded a female religious society which she headed until her death more than fifty years later. In 1742, she married Henry Osborn, a merchant who suffered economic setbacks shortly thereafter. In 1744, Mrs. Osborn resumed teaching, once again to support her family. She taught continuously until the mid-1770s; since she had 70 or more students on occasion (including eight to ten boarders) she employed assistants.
In addition to her female religious society and teaching activities, she catechized her students in the evenings, as well as conducted religion classes for young men and Newport African-Americans. She persisted in teaching until her health weakened shortly before the Revolution. She remained a lifelong friend of Susanna "Susa" Anthony (1726-1791).
Her letters to the Rev. Joseph Fish (1705/06-1781) of North Stonington, Connecticut, in the period 1743 to 1770 are filled with religious reflection and speculation on the state of her soul. There is also, however, much information on her teaching activity, as well as her involvement in her female religion society and her prayer meetings with Newport African-Americans and the young men of the community. Her school and prayer meetings were popular, and she not only supported herself in this fashion, but achieved a position of respect if not leadership in Newport. A final letter, in 1779, recounts the British occupation, then withdrawal, from Newport.
- Field of Interest
- Letters and Diaries
- Content Type
- Page Count
- Publication Year
- Alexander Street
- Place Published / Released
- Alexandria, VA
- Letters and Diaries, History, Daily Life, Domestic life
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