Warrenville Women’s History Wednesday: Sarah “Sally” Louise Warren

The Historical Society began 2016 telling the story of Colonel Warren’s seven sisters. Julius Warren, our town’s founder, was the only son in his family and had the important job of helping his parents, Nancy and Daniel Warren, find seven suitable husbands for his seven sisters. The Warren sisters were successfully married to seven well-established men who helped to shape northern Illinois. Please enjoy reading a little bit about one of the seven sisters featured in our January program The Seven Sisters of Colonel Warren. You can also learn more about the sisters in our museum exhibit that will be on display at the Historical Museum & Art Gallery through 2016.

Sarah Warren

Sarah Warren


Sarah Louise Warren, often referred to as Sally, was born in 1813, the third Warren daughter. Although it was uncommon for women to have much of a career in those days, Sarah tried her hardest. She originally left the family’s New York home in 1827 to go to work as a teacher at a school that was 10 miles away. She lived and taught at the school for the entire school year before the school’s administration realized she was only 13 years old-clearly mature and responsible for her age, but young for the profession. Some of her students were even older than she was! Despite her young age, she returned to the school the next fall and taught for 6 more months before receiving training at the Fredonia Academy where her brother, Julius, was also enrolled. At the end of her studies she taught in neighboring communities until the family headed west.

It was during her teaching however that she was attracted to the Christian religion, an institution that would form the basis for much of her life’s work. A group of Methodists held a meeting in her school house and following their stirring words, she decided to be baptized a Christian. We know that her mother Nancy, and oldest sister, Philinda, attended church prior to Sarah’s baptism, but religion was not a strong focus of the Warren family while the children were growing up. Religion remained important to Sarah and saw her through some dark days later in her life.

When the family first got to Illinois, Sarah wanted to continue her teaching, so she chose to teach as an assistant teacher from 1834 until 1836 in one of the first schools opened in Chicago. Sarah quit teaching when she married Abel Carpenter, as married women were not allowed to be teachers. Abel was however not Sarah’s first love in her new Illinois home. Shortly after she began teaching, she became engaged to be married to a Dr. Vanderbogart, the principal of the school where she was teaching. Dr. Vanderbogart however was taken ill with typhoid fever. Once he felt himself recovered, he headed to the Warren home in McDowell Grove, but the journey proved too much for his fragile health. He was taken ill again and died at the Warren home, a terrible tragedy for any bride to be. Sarah’s heart would heal well enough though for her to marry into a prominent northern Illinois family, the Carpenters.

Philo Carpenter

Philo Carpenter

The Carpenters were originally from the Berkshire Hills in western Massachusetts. They were widely known for their unswerving dedication to their religious and moral convictions. After moving west in the early 1830s, they exerted tremendous influence in Chicago and Warrenville. Philo, Abel’s older brother, was the first to come to Chicago. He arrived to the still developing city right at the time of the Black Hawk War of 1832. A druggist by trade, he was in immediate demand to aid the cholera victims suffering from the raging epidemic. Philo quickly established a successful business and became involved with the establishment of the First Presbyterian Church. Philo also purchased large land tracts, including a tract of land that extended from downtown Chicago to the Fox River. In 1833, Abel followed his brother to Chicago and helped him work his business and manage his landholdings. Religion was also close to Abel’s mind as he settled in the new community and began work to form the First Baptist Church of Chicago. In order to raise money for the new church, he undertook a brave solo journey back to Massachusetts on horseback to solicit funds for the erection of a meetinghouse with only a bible in his pocket to protect him. After Abel’s religious tasks in Chicago were complete, he headed west onto his brother’s land and settled in an area just east of Colonel Warren’s mill. Realizing the community was in need of a general store, he opened the first one in 1835, just east of First Street on Big Woods Road, todays Winfield and Warrenville Roads. We aren’t sure if Sarah Warren and Abel Carpenter met in Chicago or Warrenville, but there is no doubt that within the relatively small communities the two quickly became acquainted. The couple was married on June 26, 1836, in the sitting room of the Warren family home. The newlyweds settled on Abel’s 160 acres of land on the southeast side of town with three Carpenter sisters and their husbands.

Abel was very involved in the growth and early prominence of the Warrenville community. He served on the Big Woods Claim Protection Society, the first organization of its kind in the area, which sought to limit land pirating and settle land disputes. Abel was one of five appointed to a court of law to help negotiate quarrels over land stakes. Abel also served on the first Cemetery board starting in 1845, and was a leader in the temperance and abolitionist movements, both very important to the local community.

Hiram E. Leonard

Hiram E. Leonard

Abel Carpenter should also hold a special place in all of our hearts, because it was at his urging that our beloved Hiram Leonard came to Warrenville and made his home here. We know Hiram best through his detailed diaries of his 35 years of life here in town. Even though they often track more about his loneliness, sickness and life troubles, the vital information contained in Hiram’s diaries have allowed much local history to be saved.

Sarah Warren Carpenter gave birth to six children, but sadly two died in infancy. These were just two of the tragedies she would face in her motherhood and there is no doubt that her fervent ties to religion that she established as a teen teaching in New York helped her through the hard times.

Sarah and Abel were charter members of the Warrenville Baptist Church in 1836 and remained immovable pillars for 40 years. They counseled fallen-away brethren and sisters, led prayer meetings, resolved disputes, negotiated for resident preachers-even providing living quarters in their home, and collected funds. Abel represented Warrenville at the annual Baptist Association meetings throughout the area. Their children also served unselfishly and untiringly whenever called upon.

Warrenville's original Baptist Church.

Warrenville’s original Baptist Church

In the late 1850s, the Carpenters left their farm on the east part of town and moved to the western part of Winfield Township. They weren’t far from town though and visited Warrenville often for personal and church matters. Today their farm is home to the Fermilab buffalos.

During the 1850s the Carpenters activities around their abolitionist beliefs increased. As the country moved towards Civil War, abolitionists held meetings throughout northern Illinois, with some important gatherings happening right here in Warrenville. Philo, Abel’s brother, also turned his west-side Chicago home into an asylum for fugitive slaves, and worked with their brother-in-law Thomas Bridges to help escaped slaves across state lines in the underground railroad.

Ashley Carpenter, Warrenville’s first Civil War casualty

Ashley Carpenter, Warrenville’s first Civil War casualty

Sarah faced one of her biggest life challenges when war did finally break out. In 1862, a year after fighting had begun, their son Ashley answered the call and volunteered to fight for the Union Army with other Warrenville boys. Sadly, after just three months in harsh conditions, Ashley succumbed to the hard marching and exposure as many other soldiers did. Abel traveled to Kentucky and brought their son’s body back along with his personal effects, which included an eloquent journal detailing his short service on behalf of his beliefs in the Union cause. Sarah, however, never recovered from the loss of Ashley and wore his likeness around her neck for the rest of her life. Her only solace was in watching her three remaining children marry and prosper. After Abel died following a stroke in 1882, Sarah lived out her last 15 years with her daughter and her family on the Walker homestead in Aurora.

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, December 15 – 21, 1864

15th Thursday fine weather & more mild I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½.

16th Friday rather fine weather & the snow a melting conciderable, I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home at 8 ½ went to bed 9 ½ Mrs Bliss got home and Charles Estes came with her & stayed with me over night.

17th Saturday rather warm & thawey & mist a little I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home at 8 & went to bed about 9 tiard & about sick I had Rusegiue & Jerry Pollard kill my 4 pigs in forenoon & I carried them in at night alone I weighed 200# 1, 220 & 2, about 140 or 50, each Mrs Bli

18th Sunday A warm cloudy damp day, foggy & misty & rained in the evening I did my choars was at the home all day & evening I cut up my hogs and salted them choared round went to the office in the evening came back & wrote some & went to bed a little after 9 tiard & nearly sick have worked hard Mrs Bliss came over here and brought some thurmometers sent by Hiram [in margin] Charles Estes was at Carpenters last night & today.

19th Monday rather fine weather for the season I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard & sick.

20th Tuesday rather fine weather I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ nearly sick.

21st Wednesday rather fine for December but cool I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home at 8 ½ went to bed at about 9 nearly sick.”

Warrenville and the American Civil War: December 1862

On December 5th, 1862, Warrenville residents faced the community’s first Civil War death.  The bells of the Baptist Church rang 20 times as Ashley Carpenter’s casket was carried to the cemetery.  The procession was long and emotional, as the town had turned out en masse to say good-bye to the 20 year old.  Sarah, Ashley’s mother and Colonel Warren’s sister, never fully recovered from the loss.  She wore a picture of Ashley on a necklace for the rest of her life.  Adding to Warrenville’s grief, Ashley’s fellow soldier Freddie Cooper died on December 28th of diphtheria after being left at the military hospital in Bowling Green.   Ashley and Freddie were the first of 17 Warrenville men who died during the four year war Civil War.  At least 157 DuPage residents were killed, 34,834 from Illinois, and over 600,000 Americans lost their lives in the War.  The American Civil War is still the bloodiest U.S. war to date.

Please join us on Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. for “1863 in 48 minutes,” at the Warrenville Public Library.    To register, visit the Information Desk, call 630/393-1171 x100 or register online at http://www.warrenville.com/programs/programsadult.htm.  We will open our exhibit “1863” when the Historical Museum & Art Gallery reopens on Sunday, February 3rd from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, December 5, 1862

5th Friday  rather a cool cloudy day & night.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home at 9 & went to bed at about 10, Ashley Carpenter was buryed today.  Elder Holt preached at 2 oclock  Frank Wellman was one of the paul bearers.”

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, December 3, 1862

3rd Wednesday  rather a cool cloudy day.  I did my choars was at home till 11 then started for Naperville with the folks, got home about 5 went to office came home about 9 & went to bed at 10 sick, Carpenter got home tonight & left Ashley corps in Chicago.”

Ashley Carpenter, Warrenville’s First Civil War Casualty

The following excerpts taken from Ashley’s mother, Sarah Warren Carpenter’s notes written in 1895 will fill in the gap between his last entry and his death on November 30, 1862, in Scottsville, Kentucky.

“In ’62 our oldest son Ashley and a boy that had lived in our family 12 years, Robert Corlet, 4 years older than our son, enlisted.  We hoped then the war would soon be over –the regiment was first in Chicago, then at Dixon and then back to Chicago –before leaving Dixon our son was sick so he obtained a furlough and came home for a few days, then they were sent to Kentucky –he had only been from home 2 months –when Ashley was taken sick from hard marching and exposure.  We received a letter from the physician and surgeon of the 105th, Dr. Potter with whom we were well acquainted, saying Ashley is sick –we obliged to push on south, I leave him in the hands of a good physician –and whatever the result, Ashley is all right –he has the confidence and respect of the whole regiment, and is every inch a hero –We soon received a dispatch sent to his brother Philo Carpenter –whose son brought it to us at 11 oclock at night –and at 2 o’clock that morning he was on his way to Chicago hoping to take the morning train south –but could not get his passes and his money changed in time, so had to wait till the evening train –when he arrived at Bowling Green he hurried on to Scottsville as fast as possible, he found Ashley just alive, but past speaking –though they thought he knew he had come had been looking very anxiously for him.  They started as quickly as possible expecting to travel all night, hoping to meet the morning train at Bowling Green but there was a severe thunder storm in the night and they had to stop at the house of a rebel –they arrived in time but it was because the train was delayed 2 hours–the young friend that took care of Ashley was left at Bowling Green sick he only lived 2 weeks–On arriving at Chicago was met by friends, took him to the undertakers and the next forenoon about 40 of our relatives went to see the remains–my husband had three sisters and a brother and I had three sisters living there at that time.  (my husband came home that night and the next afternoon two of my sisters came out with the remains, funeral Friday.  Ashley was the first one of our regiment to be brought home and in a very short time 14 soldiers were laid in our little cemetery at Warrenville.  There was a great many palliating circumstances connected with our son’s sickness and death.  Two of the Captains took great pains to find him a nice place; they got him in to a good union family, merchant in the place, members of the Baptist Church, and their names were Carpenter.  They had 5 sick soldiers at the time they gave him the parlor and took excellent care of him–my husband became very much attached to them–and before the war closed they came up and made us a visit, and we visited them–we corresponded with them as long as they lived, and do yet with the family.  Robert went all through the war and came to us with consumption, lived 5 months.”

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, November 30, 1862

30th Sunday  rather a fine cloudy day with the ground covered with snow, spit snow in evening, I did my choars was at the office in morning & at Hoyts came home before noon & choared round some etc called at Hoyts in evening came home about 8 & soon went to bed, Wm McNelly came here about noon & went away a little before 4 & David & the rest left soon after for home.  Ashley Carpenter died today at a Mr Carpenters in Scottsville in Kentucky.  Carpenter got there a little before he died & started home with him in afternoon.  John Billings & Cooper came with him to Bowling Green.”

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, November 29, 1862

29th Saturday  rather a fine day with the ground covered with snow, not cold, I did my choars was at store the most of forenoon & at home in afternoon banking house & choaring round was at office in evening, eat some oysters & came home about 9 & went to bed after 10 nearly sick.  David & Eliza McNelly & Wm Ackly came here about dusk & stay all night it snowed tonight, they went to bed about 12.”

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, November 24, 1862

24th Monday  rather a fine cool day I did my choars was at the office a part of the day & at home a part of the day came home about 9 & soon went to bed Elib Potter came & stayed all night.”

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, November 23, 1862

23rd Sunday  A fine pleasant day & evening,  I did my choars went to the office in morning came back by Hoyts & went to fix a rool on my corn crib did my choars wrote some called at Hoyts a short time came home & washed me & went to bed about 9.”