Moab History: Sarah J. Elliott and Women’s History in Grand County

This March the Moab Museum celebrates Women’s History Month with a weekly popup on the West Lawn. Museum staff invite you to make a button or color a postcard of significant women in Utah’s history. The pop up is a collaboration with Utah Women’s History, a partnership between Better Days 2020 and the Utah Historical Society.

This week, the Museum team dives into the story of one of Grand County’s prominent historical figures: Sarah J. Elliott. This excerpt was adapted from the Utah Women’s History Project. 

Moab resident Sarah J. Elliott was a schoolteacher and suffragist. Before moving to Utah, she had heard Susan B. Anthony and Rev. Anna Howard Shaw speak in Pennsylvania. In the spring of 1895, her school participated in Arbor Day and the teachers and students chose important people in U.S. and Utah history to name the trees after. Sarah wrote to the Woman’s Exponent that her students had chosen Mary and Martha Washington, Frances Willard, Elizabeth Grannis, Clara Barton, Susan B. Anthony, Eliza R. Snow, and Emmeline B. Wells. Sarah wrote that she hoped to attend the suffrage convention in Salt Lake City with Susan B. Anthony in May 1895 if her school closed for the summer before that time. Sarah was elected that month as president of the newly formed Grand County Woman Suffrage Association. Her efforts with her pupils and in her town show how committed and active Utah suffragists were across the entire territory.

Grand County Woman Suffrage Association

The Grand County Woman Suffrage Association was organized in Moab just days after women’s suffrage was included in the Utah constitution drafted by convention in 1895. Fifty women joined at the first meeting headlined by leading suffragist Margaret Caine from the Utah Woman Suffrage Association. Sarah J. Elliott was elected president, with A. W. Warner as vice president, Helen Kirk as secretary and Esther Tangreen as treasurer.

The Woman’s Exponent from May 1, 1895, in which Sarah J. Elliott explains who she and her students chose to name trees after during that year’s Arbor Day.

Share Your History

Who are the women’s advocates in your family or community? Send an email to stories@betterdays2020.orgto build upon this history. 


The Moab Museum is dedicated to sharing stories of the natural and human history of the Moab area. To explore more of Moab’s stories and artifacts, find out about upcoming programs, and become a Member, visit www.moabmuseum.org.

This article was originally published in the Moab Sun News in the weekly-written Moab History Column by Moab Museum staff.