Sarah T. Bolton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sarah T. Bolton
Sarah T Bolton.jpg
Engraving by John Sartain, Philadelphia
Born December 18, 1814
Newport, Kentucky
Died August 5, 1893
Indianapolis, Indiana
Nationality American

Nathaniel Bolton

Addison Reese

Sarah Tittle Bolton née Barrett (18 December 1814 – 5 August 1893), an American poet and Indiana's "pioneer poet," is best known for her poem “Paddle Your Own Canoe” (1850). An activist for women’s rights, she worked with Robert Dale Owen during Indiana's 1850–1851 constitutional convention to include the recognition of women's property rights.


Early life[edit]

She was born in Newport, Kentucky but moved to Indiana as a child.[1] The family first settled in Jennings County, and later Madison.[2]

As a young woman she contributed poems to the Madison newspaper. These poems attracted the paper's editor Nathaniel Bolton (25 July 1803 – 26 November 1858), and the two were soon married.[2]


The couple moved to Indianapolis where Sarah gained a wide reputation as a poet. In 1855 Nathaniel Bolton was appointed consul to Geneva, Switzerland, and Sarah accompanied him to his new post. They remained in Switzerland for three years. During this time Sarah acted as a correspondent for the Cincinnati Commercial. In 1858 they returned to Indianapolis. Nathaniel died a few months after their return.[2] Nathaniel co-founded Indianapolis’s first newspaper, the Gazette, and was Indiana State Librarian from 1851 to 1854.

After her first husband's death, Sarah married Addison Reese, a judge. They lived in Missouri for two years, but she found the climate unhealthy and moved back to Indianapolis. She only used the name Reese for business, and continued with the name Bolton for other purposes.[3]


Sarah was Indiana's foremost female singer for many years. A complete collection of her poetry was published in Indianapolis in 1886. She died there in 1893.[2] She has been called the "Pioneer Poet Laureate of Indiana".[4] She is commemorated by the Sarah T. Bolton Relief, a 1941 bronze relief in the Indiana Statehouse, Indianapolis.

Further reading[edit]

Bolton's gravestone at the Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.
  • John Clark Ridpath, ed., The Life and Poems of Sarah T. Bolton, F. L. Horton, Indianapolis, 1880. from
  • Songs Of A Life-Time, The Bowen-Merrill Company, 1892.


  1. ^ "Sarah T. Barrett Bolton". Our land, our literature. Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana. 
  2. ^ a b c d Kentucky in American Letters, 1794-1912, Vol 1, J. W. Thompson, Torch Press, Iowa, 1913.
  3. ^ Harris Elwood Starr (1929). "Bolton, Sarah Tittle Barrett". Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 
  4. ^ Greasley, Philip A (2001). "Sarah T(itle Barrett) Bolton". Dictionary of Midwestern Literature. Indiana University Press. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-253-33609-5. Retrieved 11 December 2010. 

External links[edit]