Sarah T. Bolton

The only official portrait of Sarah T. Bolton in existence. Artist: John Sartain
(accessed from Google)

Background and Information

Born on December 18th, 1814 to Esther and Jonathan Barrett, Sarah T. Bolton (Barrett) spent her early life on a farm in Kentucky, helping her mother and father with daily farm life as well as taking care of her siblings. When she was around 8 years of age, Bolton attended a preacher’s mass: the first person to ever spread Catholicism in her small town. Bolton expressed her awe for the preacher and how much fear he seemingly struck in the townsfolk, triggering Bolton to write her first ever piece about the experience. And thus her love of writing began.

After moving from Kentucky to Indiana so she could be educated, Sarah T. Bolton finally expanded her creativity to start professionally writing for the Madison Banner. It is here that she met her first husband, Nathaniel Bolton, the love of her life. Through Nathaniel and his connection with the Banner and the Indianapolis Gazette , Bolton was able to establish herself as a poet by writing weekly publications. Although her works are virtually unknown in today’s society, Sarah T. Bolton’s unconventional writings dictate how a 19th-century woman’s perspectives should not be ignored.


  • The Life and Poems of Sarah T. Bolton (1880)
  • Poems (1865)
  • Songs of a Lifetime (1892)
  • Paddle Your Own Canoe, and Other Poems (1897)

The Life and Poems of Sarah T. Bolton

The Life and Poems of Sarah T. Bolton contains a collection of 156 poems that Bolton wrote in her lifetime. With some published when she wrote for the Indianapolis Journal while others never got to see the world of publication, the collection provides a wide array of different genres, themes and styles of poems that Bolton worked on through the years. With glorious additions such as “Paddle Your Own Canoe” and “Indiana”, the only two poems deemed popular for Mrs. Bolton in the 19th century, the collection brings an air of familiarity to the state of Indiana. In addition to these two more accessible poems, the collection includes other fascinating pieces about death, poverty, famine, miscarriage, love, as well as so many more ground-breaking topics for a woman of her time. With all the poetry included, what makes this collection special is the expansive anonymously-written 61-page introduction about the entire life of Sarah T. Bolton, including direct quotations from the author herself as well as personal information about her family that cannot be obtained elsewhere.

For a link to the full text, click here

Works Cited

Bolton, Sarah T. The Life and Poems of Sarah T. Bolton. Indianapolis: F.L. Horton, 1880.