Woman of the Century/Sarah Iliff Davis

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DAVIS, Mrs. Sarah Iliff, business woman and philanthropist, born in Oxford, Butler county, Ohio, 19th February, 1820. Her maiden name was Sarah A. Sausman. The family removed to Richmond, Ind., in 1832. At the age of fifteen she united with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and was a teacher in the first Sabbath-school which was organized in the church in her town. She SARAH ILIFF DAVIS.jpgSARAH ILIFF DAVIS. taught a private school for a time, and afterwards learned the millinery business. At the age of eighteen she went into business for herself. She became the wife of John K. Iliff, 23rd February, 1841 Mr. Iliff was an excellent man of good family, an old-time Methodist, earnest and devout. Seven children were born to them, five sons and two daughters. Two sons died in infancy. Mrs. Iliff never gave up her business, but carried it steadily forward, assisting in the education of the children and the acquisition of a competency. Mr. Iliff died in 1867, after a long illness. Mrs. Iliff became the wife in 1870 of B. W. Davis, editor of the "Palladium" and postmaster of Richmond. He died in 1884. Mrs. Iliff-Davis has marked executive ability. As early as 1844 she was a charter member and officer of the order of Daughters of Temperance. She was active in the Temple of Honor and the Good Templars In 1861 the Woman's Aid Society of Union Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church, of which Mrs. Iliff was president from first to last, began sanitary work for the Union Army. It soon became auxiliary to the Indiana State Sanitary Commission. That society continued active work until the close of the war. Then her efforts were directed to giving entertainments to aid in establishing the State Soldiers' Orphans' Home. Later the Freedman's Aid Society claimed her attention. In 1868 she was appointed one of a committee of women by the Young Men's Christian Association of Richmond to organize a Home for Friendless Women. For twenty years she was in active work for the home, and for sixteen years she was president of its board of managers. In 1870 she was one of a committee of two women, appointed by the home management, to go before the county commissioners, asking that the home be legalized for the commitment of women prisoners That request was granted. The same day these ladies attended the trial of a young woman, who received a sentence of imprisonment for two years, and who was committed to the home instead of the State penitentiary. They left the court-house in Centerville, taking the prisoner a distance of seven miles by railroad. That young woman served her time, working faithfully at domestic duties, and went out from the home to live an upright life. Afterwards the managers of the home petitioned the city Council to give them the keeping of all women prisoners. That was granted, and an addition was built to the home for a city and county prison. The action of the Wayne county officials was an initial step towards separate prisons for men and women, and towards establishing the Indiana State Reformatory for Women. Mrs Iliff-Davis is still actively engaged in business. As a writer her essays and reports show marked ability, and she has written poems and other contributions for the local press.