New Hampshire Suffragist, Physician, Teacher and Civic Leader: Dr. Jennie Sarah Barney of Grafton and Franklin (1861-1956)

Dr. Jennie Sarah Barney. Photograph courtesy of the Grafton (NH) Historical Society.

Jennie Sarah Barney‘s birth certificate does not list a first name. But the 1880 U.S. Census calls her Jennie S. Barney, and her college graduation listing shows: “Jennie Sarah Barney.”

Most of her professional life she went by Dr. J. Sarah Barney.”  She was born on 8 June 1861 in the town of Grafton in Grafton County, New Hampshire, the daughter of Jesse & Elvira (Hale) Barney.

She died 24 Feb 1956 at Merrill Manor in Franklin NH. Services were held at the Unitarian Church in Franklin with burial in Franklin Cemetery.

1896 Boston School of Medicine booklet listing for Dr. Barney.

From obituaries printed in New Hampshire newspapers upon her death, additional information is found. “The first 33 years of her life her home was Razor Hill in Grafton (NH)...” By 1880 (at the age of 19) she was teaching school in Grafton New Hampshire and living there with her family.  “She graduated from New Hampton Literary Institute in 1882 and taught school in this area for several years, including at the Nesmith school here. She went on to graduate from Plymouth Normal school in 1890.”

Advertisement in the 1907 NH Woman Suffrage Association Report by Dr. Barney, and her companion, Abbie L. Gale.

She graduated from the Boston School of Medicine in 1896.  The school’s booklet for 1896 reads: “Jennie Sarah Barney of Andover NH. Graduate as Doctor of Medicine Title of Thesis: Theories of Menstruation.”  Her obituary additionally states: “She was valedictorian of her class at BU. Following her internship at the Memorial Hospital for Women and Children at Brooklyn NY she came to Franklin in 1897 and was associated in practice with the late Dr. Charles W. Adams. She later opened her own office in West Franklin and then moved to Central Street where she maintained her office until her retirement. Dr. Barney was one of the first women physicians in the area. She was a member of the staff of Franklin Hospital since its founding in 1910 until her retirement.” By 1910 the Franklin City Directory shows she was living in Franklin NH at 45 Central street, a general practice physician.

Dr. J. Sarah Barney in her later years. Property of Lorie Greenwood. Lorie’s 2nd great-grandfather George was Sarah’s brother. Used with her permission.

During this time, from 1907-1908, she was an active member of the National Executive Committee of the New Hampshire Women Suffrage Association. In 1920 when the Suffrage Association became the New Hampshire League of Women Voters she continued membership and worked on behalf of suffrage for women.

In 2017 the life and contributions of Dr. Jennie Sarah Barney were recognized with a historic marker in Grafton New Hampshire that reads: “DR. JENNIE SARAH BARNEY 1861-1956. Born to a prominent family in Grafton, J. Sarah Barney graduated valedictorian from Boston University with degrees in medicine and surgery in 1896. A founding doctor at Franklin Hospital,, where she practiced from 1910 to her retirement, Dr. Barney was remembered for her grit, humor, and involvement with women’s suffrage. Upon her death, newspapers called her a pioneer and urge young readers to “gather a little inspiration from the life of Dr. Barney to face up to the problem of the hour.”


Edward Barney & Christian —

Jacob Barney & Anna — (immigrant ancestor, England to Massachusetts Bay coloney, Salem)

Rev. Jacob Barney & Ann Witt

Joseph Barney & Constance Davis

John Barney & Hannah Clark

Aaron Barney, son of John & Hannah (Clark) Barney b 12 Apr 1734 Rehoboth MA d 1817 Grafton NH; of Rehoboth MA. Patriot of the American Revolution. He married 13 Dec 1753 in Rehoboth MA to Susanna (Bosworth) Carpenter, daughter of Charles & Hannah (Bosworth) Carpenter. She was b 5 July 1735 in Rehoboth MA and d. 1817 in Grafton NH.
Children of Aaron & Susanna Bosworth (Carpenter) Barney:
1. +Jabez Bosworth Barney, b 14 Jan 1755
2. Hannah Barney 1757-1841
3. Kezia Barney 1759-1846
4. Otis Barney 1773-1849 (?)

Jabez Bosworth Barney, son of Aaron & Susannah Bosworth (Carpenter) Barney, b 14 January 1755, d 4 Aug 1839; He m. Chloe Barney, daughter of Jacob & Ruth (Burr) Barney, a cousin. She was b 2 March 1755, died 22 July 1818. He is buried in Razor Hill Cemetery, Grafton NH. [Some info from bible on family tree at Ancestry]
Info from Findagrave
“Jabez Bosworth Barney was a Mayflower Descendant through his mother’s Bosworth line back to John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley.”
Children of Jabez B. & Chloe (Barney) Barney:
1. + John Barney b 5 March 1791 Orange NH.
2. Jacob Barney, b 21 July 1775. He married Lois –. She b. 11 March 1772, d. 3 Nov 1845.

John Barney, son of Jabez & Chloe (Barney) Barney. b 5 March 1791 in Orange NH, d 4 May 1863 in Grafton NH; m. Nancy Martin. She b Feb 1792, d 18 June 1875 in Grafton NH. He was a merchant. Buried Razor Hill Cemetery, Grafton NH.
Findagrave says:
His grandfather, Aaron Barney, was a Revolutionary War soldier who served from Rehoboth, MA. Aaron and his son Jabez B. Barney, John Barney’s father, walked from Rehoboth, MA to Grafton, NH to settle the Grafton lots they bought. Grafton was considered “frontier” land.
John Barney was also a Mayflower Descendant through his grandmother, Aaron Barney’s wife Susannah Carpenter back to Elizabeth Tilley and John Howland.
Children of John & Nancy (Martin) Barney:
1. Eleazer Barney 1814-1884
2. Finette Barney 1817-1902
3. Nancy Barney 1821-1822
4. + Jesse Barney b 9 May 1823 in Grafton, Grafton Co. NH
5. Alfred Barney b 2 Sep 1826 Grafton NH; d. 12 Jan 1904 Lowell MA. Buried Edson Cemetery, Lowell MA. He married 17 Apr 1854 Lowell MA to Myra A. Stevens. They had children: Johanna S., Emma B. and Fred M.
6. Horace Barney 1828-1904
7. Martin Barney 1833-1833

Jesse Barney, son of John & Nancy (Martin) Barney, b 9 May 1823 in Grafton, Grafton Co., NH, d 1 Feb 1887 Grafton NH. He m. 19 Dec 1852 in Grafton NH to Elvira Hale, daughter of Simeon Barrett & Jane (Williams) Hale.
1880 US census > NH > Grafton > Grafton
Jesse Barney 57
Elvira Barney 53
William H Barney 26
George J Barney 24
Jennie S Barney 19
Mary E Barney 13
Children of Jesse & Elvira (Hale) Barney:
1. William H. “Willie” Barney, b 22 May 1854, died 22 Sep 1917 Montana. The Great Falls (Montana) Tribune newspaper of 9 August 1919 printed: “Lewistown, Aug 8–A decree has been entered in the district court dividing the big estate left by William H. Barney, who was a prominent farmer and stockman in the Moore district equally between a brother and dister of the decedent. The farm land aggregate 1760 acres of choice property. The sister, Dr. J. Sarah Barney is a practicing physician in New Hampshire. He is buried in Grafton Center Cemetery, Grafton NH
2. George S. Barney, b 13 Dec 1855 Grafton, Grafton NH; died 16 Dec 1832. He married 6 March 1888 in Canaan NH to Cora B. Martin, daughter of Albert & Jane E. (Cilley) Martin. She died 7 January 1946 in Grafton NH. They had several children including Jesse A., Earl M., Mildred M., Lester W., Mable E., and George V.
3. +Jennie Sarah Barney, born 1861. This story is about her. See photo and briography above. Dr. Barney did not marry. Her companion was Abbie L. Gale who was a masseuse. They are buried in the same cemetery plot.
4. Mary E. “Nellie” Barney, born Aug 1866 Grafton NH, d. 17 July 1889 1889 Barnstead NH
5. Anna Belle Barney, b. Sep 1869, d. 11 Oct 1875, age 6


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7 Responses to New Hampshire Suffragist, Physician, Teacher and Civic Leader: Dr. Jennie Sarah Barney of Grafton and Franklin (1861-1956)

  1. Pingback: Was Your New Hampshire Ancestor a Suffragist? | Cow Hampshire

  2. Amy says:

    I wonder what her theories of menstruation were. Interesting woman!

  3. doctor davis says:

    Ms. Brown: Thank you once again for highlighting an important person in NH history. Even though Dr. Barney was not famous, she certainly set an example for her service to others, especially women. For anyone interested in Grafton history Ken Cushing wrote a book about 20 years ago called “Isinglass, Timber, and Wool.”

  4. Donna M Dunn says:

    You write the most amazing blog and bring so many important people to life. Thank you!

    Do you know of any suffragists in Dunbarton? So far all I’ve found is “Mrs. Barnard.” I believe it’s a reference to Mary Barnard, the fourth woman elected to the House in NH…. The first three have been written about, but not the fourth..

  5. Janice Brown says:

    Donna, Thank you for your kind words. I have as of yet not run across a list of any Dunbarton Suffrage Association, nor mention of women active at the state and national level. Horace Caldwell of Dunbarton did vote in 1903 for women’s suffrage however the legislature did not pass due to still too many voting against it. You might look into his wife, as often a husband and wife shared the same political views.

  6. Pingback: New Hampshire’s Centennial Celebration of the 19th Amendment | Cow Hampshire

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