Sarah Bingham Norris

Born on November 18, 1849 in Yorkshire, England to Joseph and Mary Bingham, Sarah immigrated to Illinois with her family in 1861.  With the nation unsettled due to the outbreak of war, they found farm life hard and moved to Iowa.  Sarah struggled to obtain an education and along with doing missionary work and some nursing, she eventually taught school.

The death of her two older sisters before they were thirty years old left the care of their aging parents to Sarah.  In 1891, Sarah married Aaron Delu Norris, a veteran of the Civil War. They enjoyed sixteen years together before Mr. Norris died in 1908 at the age of 67.

In 1909, Sarah decided to join in the movement of veterans, wives and widows from the North to a town called St. Cloud, being settled in Florida. Hardships weren’t new to Sarah so she readily jumped into the work needed to establish a prosperous community.

 Sarah was one of a group of ladies who established the first library, which at the time was only a reading room in the railroad depot.  She later helped to raise funds for a library building, the Veterans Memorial Library.   She sponsored all educational projects and was involved in the founding of the Episcopal Church. 

 A pioneer in not one, but two areas of the country, Sarah was active until about 1939 when illness forced a move from her home to Mrs. Shoop’s Nursing Home at 1117 Massachusetts Avenue.  A fall resulting in a broken hip kept Sarah bedridden for two weeks prior to her death on September 24, 1952; two months before her 103rdbirthday. 

By: Anza Bast

Sources:  “St. Cloud News” November 18, 1949, September 26, 1952

Image source:  “St. Cloud News” November 18, 1949