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Sarah Pownall (Henderson)

Also Known As: "Sarah Ann Henderson"
Birthplace: Sadsbury Township, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States
Death: Died in Sadsbury Township, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States
Place of Burial: Sadsbury Township, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Thomas Henderson and Elinor Henderson
Wife of Levi Pownall
Mother of Martha Pownall; Eleanor Pownall; Elizabeth Buckman Steele; Levi Pownall; Thomas Henderson Pownall and 1 other
Sister of Maria Pownall; Susan Judkins; Henry Henderson; James Henderson; Eliza Henderson and 1 other

Managed by: Edward Malcolm King
Last Updated:

About Sarah Pownall

Her son in law George Steele wrote in 1918: "Mrs. Sarah Pownall was the best and most capable woman I ever knew". Read the story here: Reminiscences of the Christiana riot

From Bloody Dawn : The Christiana Riot and Racial Violence in the Antebellum North: The Christiana Riot and Racial Violence in the Antebellum North Thomas P. Slaughter Professor of History Rutgers University. Page 57-58.

"Sarah Pownall, William Parker's neighbor from down the lane and wife of his landlord, stopped by and tried to convince him that If the slave holders should come, not to lead the colored people to resist by force of arms, but to escape to Canada .... Pacifism makes sense for whites, Parker responded to his Quaker neighbor; the law and the courts do not work for black people, and a man can only run so far."


In the fall of 1847 the members of Sadsbury Friends Meeting, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania appointed a committe of twelve, six men and six women, to draw up a letter stating their position on the issue of slavery.  This letter was to be sent to other meetings with the hope that it would encourage them to take a similar stand. 

Signed by:

(signed) James Jackson, Lindley Coates, Deborah Coates, Hannah Dingee, Thomas Whitson, Martha Whitson, Elizabeth Webster, Moses Whitson, Lydia P. Brinton, Wm. L. Rakestraw, Sarah Pownall, Jesse Webster

This is the text of the letter:

     We believe that the spirit of our righteous testimonies, faithfully carried out, would lead to the enquiry, how far we are partakers in other men's sins, by the free use of the produce of the unrequited toil of the slave; and whether we are not "striking hands with the oppressor," when we lend our support to a government that sanctions and perpetuates his wrongs.

     Our purity is always endangered admidst moral corruption; dwelling, as we have been under the blighting influence of this great injustice, our moral vision has been measurably obscured, our sensibilities blunted, and our prejudices increased; so that we do not see the depth of the enormity of this wickedness, but to some extent, with the Priest and Levite, pass by our fellow beings who have fallen amongst thieves, and whose blood, and sweat, and tears are calling to us from the ground, to arise in the might of the great principle of truth, and labor for the immediate and unconditional overthrow of this system.

     The efforts now making, as we believe, for its extension in the horrors and atrocities of the Mexican War, call renewedly upon us to examine the ground on which we stand.  We claim to be an Anti-slavery Society; - are we not resting satisfied with a name to live?  "Let us strengthen the things that remain that are ready to die;" believing the more reputedly good men are, the more dangerous to human progress do they become, when by their silence, or otherwise, they sanction that which is evil.

     We believe a responsibility therefore rests on us to enter into an individual examination, how far "we are guilty concerning our brother in that we see the anquish of his soul and will not hear him;" and how far our conduct towards him has been governed by that test of action, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them."


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Sarah Pownall's Timeline

October 9, 1796
Sadsbury Township, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States
March 17, 1819
Age 22
February 18, 1820
Age 23
Sadsbury Township, Lancaster , Pennsylvania, United States
September 24, 1822
Age 25
Sadsbury Township, Lancaster , Pennsylvania, United States
May 16, 1825
Age 28
Sadsbury Township, Lancaster , Pennsylvania, United States
October 16, 1827
Age 31
Sadsbury Township, Lancaster , Pennsylvania, United States
May 8, 1830
Age 33
Sadsbury Township, Lancaster , Pennsylvania, United States
July 3, 1833
Age 36
Christiana, Lancaster, PA, USA
Age 53
Sadsbury, Lancaster , Pennsylvania, United States

1850 United States Federal Census
Name: Levi Pownall
Age: 67
Birth Year: abt 1783
Birthplace: Pennsylvania
Home in 1850: Sadsbury, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Gender: Male
Family Number: 31
Household Members:
Name Age
Levi Pownall
Sarah Pownall
Martha Pownall
Eleanor Pownall
Elizabeth Pownall
Levi Pownall
Thomas H Pownall
George Pownall
Barnard Barton
Mary Barton
Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: Sadsbury, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_789; Page: 3A; Image: 12.
Source Information: 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
Original data: Seventh Census of the United States, 1850; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, 1009 rolls); Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

August 6, 1852
Age 55
Sadsbury Township, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States