Kansas City, MO

Women's History Month: celebrating social leader, Sarah Walter Chandler Coates

CJ Coombs

14-yr. old striker, Fola La Follette, and Rose Livingston (1913).Photo byLibrary of CongressonUnsplash

In March every year, we get to celebrate all month long the history of women who have made contributions that enhanced and improved our lives.

Women’s History Month is an important time to celebrate women who have made a difference in our society. It's an opportunity to recognize and honor the achievements of women.

Celebrating Women’s History Month allows us to reflect on the progress we have made as a society, while also acknowledging the work that still needs to be done. It is a chance for us to recognize and honor the accomplishments of all women, regardless of their background or identity. It's important to take this time to recognize and appreciate the value of celebrating the history of women who have impacted society.

Sarah Chandler Coates

Sarah Chandler Coates was born on March 10, 1829, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. She died in Kansas City on July 25, 1897, at age 68. In 1856, she moved to Kansas City where she lived with her husband, Kersey Coates. Sarah was a suffragette, abolitionist, and progressive social leader who worked with her husband to develop the city. Kersey wore several hats too. He was a businessman and practiced law in Pennsylvania. He was also a director of a railroad, a partner in a bank, and a real estate investor.

Sarah was known as the Queen of Quality Hill. Quality Hill is a historic part of Kansas City and Sarah was its social leader. Sarah supported anti-slavery organizations and ran charities from her home. She and Susan B. Anthony were friends. Leading the local Women’s Suffrage Club, Sarah founded the ’81 Club, a women’s group that still exists.

Sarah Walter Chandler Coates.Photo byFind-a-Grave upload by quebecoise.
When she died in 1897, tributes came from all over the country from people whose lives she had touched. Her funeral was held at the Coates home on Quality Hill and the porches, yards and streets surrounding their house were filled with people who wanted to pay their respects. (Source.)

In 1898, Sarah's children, Laura Coates Reed, John Lindley Coates, and Arthur Chandler Coates, published In Memoriam to celebrate their mother. It's included on the Coates Project website. Click here to read.

Kansas City Historian Dory Deangelo said that Sarah's husband built landmarks, and she helped build lives. Sarah was very educated. She also organized groups to study human physiology, science, and politics.

In 1870, Sarah was one of the founders of the Women’s Christian Association, an early charitable organization in Kansas City. A building was rented at 11th and McGee Streets by this group where it was used as a home for impoverished women and children.

In 1894, signatures of hundreds of women were obtained by Sarah in an effort to get Jackson County’s support for mentally impaired women who were transferred from the state asylum to the county’s poor houses.

Sarah led Kansas City women’s suffrage organization. They would meet in the hotel at 10th and Broadway, the Coates House Hotel that was built by her husband. In 1896, one suffrage meeting she helped organize included Susan B. Anthony as one of its speakers. 

Sarah’s legacy is celebrated during Women’s History Month. She and her husband are buried at the Elmwood Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri where other notables are buried.

Thank you for reading.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms. Thinker, giver, and lover of life and retired early to be a writer. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO

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