Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

1878-1888, Sara B. Maxwell


1878-1888, Sara B. Maxwell



Sara “Sadie” B. Bushong was born in Columbian County, Ohio, February 12, 1837, the daughter of Jacob and Hannah Bushong. She attended the academies at Bryan and West Unity, Ohio, then taught from 1853 to 1858. Sara married William Maxwell in 1858, and in 1863 they moved to Panora, Iowa. William and Sara had three children: Emmet G., Jessie, and Blanche. In 1876 Sadie wrote a book on the Centennial History of Guthrie County, Iowa; containing a short history of Iowa, history and description of Guthrie County, early settlement, incidents, etc. The very next year, on March 24, 1877, William and Emmett were murdered on a business trip in New Mexico. Sara moved to Des Moines and in 1878 Governor Gear appointed her State Librarian to succeed Mrs. Ada North. She served until 1888 and during her administration inaugurated the work of collecting and preserving the files of Iowa newspapers, books by Iowa authors, and material relating to state history. Mrs. Maxwell had charge of the Iowa Columbian Exposition at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. In 1897 Sara was elected Librarian of the Meadville, Pennsylvania Unitarian and Theological School, and held that position until her death. Sara B. Maxwell died October 12, 1904 at the home of her daughter in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania where she was living. It was said that “Many in Iowa recall with affection, this modest unassuming woman who went about among us, doing good.” “Sara B. Maxwell.” Quarterly of the Iowa Library Commission, Oct 1904. 64. 1850 US. Federal Census, Williams County, Ohio, p.20-21, Jacob Bushong household, (Online: Access Genealogy; a free genealogical resource) 1870 US. Federal Census, Cass Township, Guthrie County, Iowa, p.166, line 1, Wm. Maxwell household, (Online: Heritage Quest, 2008) Iowa Register of Marriages Polk County, Iowa. LDS microfilm project, p.289 (marriage of Martin L. Weaver to Jessie Maxwell, Sara’s daughter, April 29, 1886). Deaths of William and Emmett Maxwell. Guthrie Vedette newspaper, Panora, IA Thursday, March 29,1877 front page and Thursday, April 6, 1877 front page.


State Librarians of Iowa 1837 - 2008 Compiled by Karon S. King Library Resource Technician State Library of Iowa 1112 East Grand Avenue Des Moines, Iowa 50319 2008


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State Librarians of Iowa