SARAH THOMPSON SUTTERFIELD was a woman who represented many of the pioneer women in our history who were the backbone of families and communities throughout the state. Despite enduring difficult living conditions, lack of modern medical care, high infant mortality rates and a never-ending daily workload that required a great deal of physical labor, she was one of the women who kept her family together and functioning. She was born in southeast Missouri in 1874, just nine years after the Civil War. She married James Sutterfield in 1903 and moved to St. Louis. Due to financial difficulties, they returned to Reynolds County.
Her formal education was sketchy. She bore nine children, only five of whom lived to adulthood. For the day-to-day life of the family and their large farm, it was Sutterfield who saw that things were done.
Sutterfield’s daily life consisted of washing clothes outside on a washboard; drawing water from a well and heating it over an open fire; raising a huge garden; cooking and canning on a wood kitchen stove; making her own soap and bread; preserving foods to last the winter; filling the mattresses with new corn shucks every fall; feeding and taking care of all the people who dropped in; making the family’s clothes; and being ever watchful for the hazards of rural and pioneer life, such as snakebites, bedbugs, ringworm, boils, accidents and disease. She also had a maple sugar camp every early spring, boiling the syrup down and selling it and maple sugar cakes at the local store in Bunker.