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Women of Lowell

Sarah Hosmer (March 17, 1791 - December 28, 1871)

"She drew from a well that was never dry, the supplying springs of which were energy, industry, and self-reliance".1


There is no known image of Sarah Hosmer.  In her lifetime members of the lower class, women in particular, were seldom afforded the opportunity to have their likeness preserved. 


Sarah V. Hosmer (1791-1871) was born in Concord, MA, to parents John and Mary Hosmer, who lived and worked on the family farm. Her early life was devoted to her family, education, and church.  Sarah became a local schoolteacher in Concord and taught Sabbath school to local children each week in her parents' home.  Starting at this early point in her life, Hosmer was known for her charity and “she spent little for self, and much for others”.2

In around 1835, Hosmer, then 44, relocated to Lowell, MA, and began working in the mills.  At this time she also increased her saving, living more frugally than her income dictated in order to support many different charitable causes. She hired a financial advisor and manager, Mr. Hapgood Wright. His responsibilities included investing Hosmer’s savings and distributing charitable donations. 

Wright remembered that Hosmer’s charitable contributions “would average from one to two hundred dollars a year, for the last twenty years of her life” and said that she was “the most conscientious person he ever knew.”4  She gave generously to her church, supported missions work, funded educations, and gave to those less fortunate locally.  Hosmer was even known to invest in small businesses in the Lowell area.     

In addition to her charitable work, Hosmer was known for her “eccentricities of manner” including wearing her dresses “shorter than average.”5 She enjoyed going to the local bookstore and was a member of the Appleton Street Church.

While her death records note that she was a widow, people who knew her well recalled that she was single throughout her life, devoting her life to charity and her faith.  “She fought the battle of life alone, save the Unseen Presence at her side, into whose treasury she cast all her living.”6 Being single did not stop Hosmer from adopting a child, also named Sarah, “from the depths of poverty” to whom she devoted her life and “gave the warm love of a mother's heart.”7 When the younger Sarah died at age ten, Hosmer was left heartbroken.  

Toward the end of her 80 years, “though nearly blind, she often worked when she was not able, ever willing to do anything rather than be idle,” taking in sewing and mending work when she was no longer able to work in the mills.8,9  As she had her entire life, "She lived with the strictest economy, and was always industrious, that she might give the bread of life to the perishing."10

Sarah V. Hosmer died at age 80 on December 23, 1871.11 According to probate records filed by Mr. Wright, her estate was worth over $11,000, including $9200.70 in savings.12,13  Her estate was distributed to relatives who used the funds to continue her good works.  Sarah Hosmer was buried in Concord, MA, next to her “dear little Sarah.”14


2. 5. 9. "Interesting Facts in the Lives of Two Lowell Women," from Selections, Historical and General, Mostly Concerning Lowell and Vicinity: Largely from the Lowell Newspapers of the Past Thirty Years, volume III  (Lowell, MA: 1894), 101. Internet Archive.
3. 4. Greene, The Semi-Centennial Volume, 237.
10.  Green, The Semi-Centennial Volume, 122.
11. "Massachusetts State Vital Records, 1841-1920" [database with images], FamilySearch ( : 14 December 2022), Sarah Hosmer, 1871.
12. Probate Records 1648--1924 (Middlesex County, Massachusetts), Massachusetts, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.
13. Middlesex County (Mass.) Probate Packets (1 - 4702) (Second Series) 1872-1967 (And 4703 - 19,935). Massachusetts, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.

Click on images to link to pdf in the Internet Archive



"Interesting Facts in the Lives of Two Lowell Women," from Selections, Historical and General, Mostly Concerning Lowell and Vicinity: Largely from the Lowell Newspapers of the Past Thirty Years, volume III (Lowell, MA: 1894) 101-102. Lowell Historical Society, Center for Lowell History Monograph Collection.