Sarah Armstrong Wallis Homesite
This historical marker honors the life of early Palo ALto settler and women's suffrage pioneer Sarah Armstrong Wallis. Wallis traveled across the Great Plains with her family in the summer of 1844-prior to the United States' acquisition of California from Mexico. In 1856, she and her husband Joseph established a farm in the area now known as Barron Park in 1856. The Wallis' were leading investors in local railroad companies, and as a result, well-connected in area politics. In 1870, Sarah Wallis became the first president of the organization that grew to become the California State Woman Suffrage Education Association. The marker is located in the midst of what was once the Mayfield Farm, the home of Sarah Armstron Wallis until the economic depression of the mid-1870s forced her to sell the property. Despite her financial difficulties, she maintained local influence and corresponded with many national suffrage leaders such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.
Backstory and Context
It is possible that national suffrage leaders called on Wallis at her home, but more likely that Wallis communicated with them via correspondence. Wallis died in 1905, and the Wallis home at Mayfield Farm was destroyed by fire in 1936.
The marker also claims that Ulysses S. Grant was a visitor to the Wallis home. While Joseph Wallis was a local judge, local historian David Woodburry and rangers at the Ulysses S. Grant National Historical Site have been unable to find firm evidence that Grant visited Palo Alto during his trip to San Francisco.