Bio Sketch: Sarah H. (Howard) Forrer (1807-1887), wife of Samuel Forrer

Sarah Hastings Howard was born December 27, 1807, in Belmont County, Ohio, the eldest child of Horton Howard (1770-1833) and his third wife Hannah Hastings (1774-1833).[1] Sarah was born near the Quaker community of Concord (present-day Colerain, in Belmont County), of which her father was one of the founding members when it was established in 1800. Sarah appears to have been named after her maternal grandmother, Sarah Hastings.[2]

Sarah’s earliest formal education took place in a log cabin schoolhouse with a teacher whom her father had brought across the Ohio River from Wheeling to Concord.[3]

Sarah lived with her parents and family in Belmont County until 1820, when the Howards moved to Delaware, Ohio, when her father was appointed an agent at the federal land office there.[4]

Sarah H. Howard as a young woman

Sarah H. Howard as a young woman (Dayton Metro Library, FPW, Box 6, Folder 6)

In the fall of 1825, Sarah’s father sent her to Cincinnati to attend school.[5] In addition to her other studies, her father particularly wished Sarah to learn “the art of painting or shading maps,” a useful skill to have in the family, since as a federal land agent, Horton was involved with surveying and mapmaking.[6]

Sarah was certainly artistic, being skilled in drawing and painting; that much is evident.[7] However, she may have been denied the opportunity to explore her talents for purely artistic or leisurely interests. One source claims:

This talented pioneer woman…was never permitted to indulge her talent for painting when she was at home because she was the daughter of a Quaker family, where sketching, drawing and painting were all regarded as frivolous and worldly; vain things to be shunned and despised.[8]

In addition to her artistic abilities, Sarah also had been “gifted with rare refinement, intelligence, and beauty of person and character.”[9] Apparently, she was even known as “the Quaker Beauty.”[10]

While studying in Cincinnati, Sarah spent time at the homes of family friends, including Micajah T. Williams, a canal commissioner and member of the Society of Friends who apparently knew Sarah’s father. Through their mutual acquaintance with Williams, Sarah met her future husband, canal engineer Samuel Forrer (1793-1874).[11]

After an apparently brief courtship, Samuel and Sarah were married on the evening of February 8, 1826, at the home of Rev. William Burke in Cincinnati. Evidently, the two entered into this marriage without the consent of Sarah’s parents, who were members of the Society of Friends, which strongly disapproves of members marrying non-Quakers. (Sarah was formally reprimanded at her monthly meeting on May 3, 1827, for “marrying contrary to discipline,” perhaps because Sarah and Samuel were married by a minister, bypassing the usual Quaker marriage rites.) Sarah’s parents seem to have accepted the marriage eventually, however, as ordinary family correspondence and contact continued afterwards.[12]

[For more on Sarah and Samuel’s courtship/marriage, check out the series “A Little Quaker Love Story” here on my blog.]

Samuel and Sarah had six children:

  1. Elizabeth Hannah Forrer was born Feb. 28, 1827, and died Jan. 16, 1874; she married Jeremiah H. Peirce.[13]
  2. Edward was born Aug. 30, 1830, and died Dec. 28, 1838.[14]
  3. Augusta was born Apr. 5, 1833, and died Oct. 18, 1907; she married Luther B. Bruen.[15]
  4. Ann was born June 28, 1835, and died Jan. 11, 1837.[16]
  5. Mary was born Aug. 24, 1838, and died Sept. 2, 1929; she also married Jeremiah H. Peirce.[17]
  6. Howard was born Nov. 11, 1841, and died July 22, 1864.[18]

As was common for women of that time, Sarah had “no particular occupation” outside the home.[19] Instead she “devoted herself to domestic life, the training of her children, and the tasteful adornment of her house and grounds.”[20]

The Forrer family resided at the southeast corner of First and Ludlow Streets in Dayton until 1864, when they moved into a newly built home on a parcel of land adjacent to the property of their son-in-law Jeremiah H. Peirce in Harrison Township just west of present-day Forest Avenue.[21]

Sarah H. (Howard) Forrer later in life

Sarah H. (Howard) Forrer later in life (Dayton Metro Library, FPW, Box 6, Folder 7)

Sarah was a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers). As a child, she and her family were members of the Concord Monthly Meeting (1807-1815) and Plainfield Monthly Meeting (1815-1820), both in Belmont County, Ohio. When the family moved to central Ohio, they transferred to the Alum Creek Monthly Meeting (1820). In May 1827, Sarah was formally reprimanded for marrying contrary to discipline, but she apparently admitted misbehavior and remained in good standing. In March 1835, Sarah transferred from the Alum Creek Monthly Meeting to the Springboro Monthly Meeting.[22] It is unclear whether Sarah continued to follow the religion, and there appear to be no Quaker membership records for any of her children.[23] However, her death was noted in the Friends’ Intelligencer and Journal, and in her will she requested that her funeral be conducted in the way of the Friends.[24]

Sarah (Howard) Forrer died December 11, 1887, in Dayton, Ohio, at the age of 79.[25] She was buried next to her husband Samuel on December 12, 1887, in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.[26]

Tombstone of Sarah (Howard) Forrer and Samuel Forrer, Woodland Cemetery, Section 102

Tombstone of Sarah (Howard) Forrer and Samuel Forrer, Woodland Cemetery, Section 102 (Photo by the author, 29 Oct. 2011)

*****

This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in April 2012 for the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018) finding aid at the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, Ohio, 45402; phone (937) 496-8654.

Additional information about the sketch’s subject can be found in that collection. For more information about the manuscript collection’s contents, please see the original PDF finding aid available in the Local History Room of the Dayton Metro Library, the OhioLINK EAD Repository entry, or the WorldCat record.

Please contact the Dayton Metro Library or this blog’s author for more information about how to access the original finding aid or the manuscript collection.


[1] See also FPW, Series III, Subseries 2: Howard Family.

[2] Forrer Genealogical Data, Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (hereafter cited as FPW), 7:12, Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, Ohio); Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20; William W. Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, vol. 4 (Ann Arbor, MI: Edwards Brothers, 1946), 150; John A. Caldwell, History of Belmont and Jefferson Counties, Ohio (Evansville, IN: Unigraphic, 1976), 186.

[3] Frances Isabel Parrott, “Sons and Mothers” (short story), FPW, 32:4, 3.

[4] Horton Howard to Thomas Rotch, 16 Dec. 1819 and 28 Apr. 1820, Thomas and Charity Rotch Papers, Massillon Public Library, Massillon, Ohio, accessed 29 Dec. 2011, http://www.massillonmemory.org; “Horton Howard,” Quakerpedia, last modified 29 Aug. 2007, http://www.quakerpedia.org/index.php?title=Horton_Howard; Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, vol. 4, 338, 1166.

[5] Research in the early Cincinnati City Directories indicates that Sarah likely attended either Locke’s Cincinnati Female Academy or Pickett’s Cincinnati Female College.

[6] Horton Howard to Sarah Howard, 23 Nov. 1825, FPW, 34:13.

[7] Examples of her artwork can be found in FPW 6:2.

[8] “Mary Forrer Peirce: An Artist Who is Yet Busy with Brush and Palette Though Near Her 80th Year,” Dayton Daily News, 24 Dec. 1916, quoted in Frank Bruen, Christian Forrer, the Clockmaker, and his Descendants (Rutland, VT: Tuttle, 1939), 137.

[9] Death notice of Sarah Forrer, Friends’ Intelligencer and Journal, 21 Jan. 1888, p. 41, in Sarah H. (Howard) Forrer: Obituaries, FPW 6:5.

[10] “Old Journal Cites Civil War Occurrences in City,” in Sarah H. (Howard) Forrer: Newspaper Clippings, FPW, 6:6; Frances Isabel Parrott, “Sons and Mothers” (short story), FPW, 32:4, 1-2.

[11] Samuel Forrer to Horton Howard, undated [circa 1825/1826] and 13 Feb. 1826, FPW, 1:12; Horton Howard to Sarah Howard, 23 Nov. 1825 and 11 Dec. 1825, FPW, 34:13. See also FPW, Series I, Subseries 1: Samuel Forrer.

[12] For more information, see: Samuel Forrer to his father-in-law Horton Howard, 1826 (FPW 1:12), and Horton Howard to his son-in-law Samuel FORRER and his daughter Sarah H. (HOWARD) Forrer, 1823-1833 (FPW 34:13); Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 4:1166.

[13] Forrer Genealogical Data, FPW, 7:12; Bruen, Christian Forrer, 105. See also FPW, Series II, Subseries 2: Elizabeth Hannah (Forrer) Peirce, and in general, Series II: Jeremiah H. Peirce Family.

[14] Forrer Genealogical Data, FPW, 7:12; Bruen, Christian Forrer, 129. See also FPW, Series I, Subseries 4: Other Forrer Family Members.

[15] Forrer Genealogical Data, FPW, 7:12; Bruen, Christian Forrer, 129. See also FPW, Series III, Subseries 1: Bruen Family.

[16] Forrer Genealogical Data, FPW, 7:12; Bruen, Christian Forrer, 136.

[17] Forrer Genealogical Data, FPW, 7:12; Mary (FORRER) Peirce: Will and Estate Documents, FPW, 13:19; Bruen, Christian Forrer, 136. See also FPW, Series II, Subseries 3: Mary (Forrer) Peirce.

[18] Forrer Genealogical Data, FPW, 7:12; Bruen, Christian Forrer, 140. See also FPW, Series I, Subseries 3: Howard Forrer.

[19] Forrer Genealogical Data, FPW, 7:12.

[20] Death notice of Sarah Forrer, Friends’ Intelligencer and Journal, 21 Jan. 1888, p. 41; Bruen, Christian Forrer, 105.

[21] Dayton City Directories, 1850-1889; Bruen, Christian Forrer, 94a, 96a.

A sketch of the Forrers’ home at First and Ludlow can be seen in Bruen (p. 96a); the site is now a parking lot adjacent to the Christ Episcopal Church. A photograph of the Forrers’ 1864 home can be seen in Bruen (p. 94a); this house was located just west of present-day Forest Avenue, a little north of Grand Avenue, near where the Grandview Medical Center now stands.

[22] Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, vol. 4, 150, 338, 1159, 1166; Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, vol. 5, 969.

[23] William W. Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 7 vols. (Ann Arbor, MI: Edwards Brothers, 1936-1975).

[24] Death notice of Sarah Forrer, Friends’ Intelligencer and Journal, 21 Jan. 1888, p. 41; Will of Sarah Forrer, FPW, 6:4.

[25] Bruen, Christian Forrer, 105.

[26] Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org. Sarah is buried in Section 102, Lot 1348.

11 responses to “Bio Sketch: Sarah H. (Howard) Forrer (1807-1887), wife of Samuel Forrer

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