Sarah Jackson Somers

Cover of
Cover of "Aunt Sarah: Woman of the Dawnland"

Time Period

1820-1860

Subject Categories

Arts, Medicine

Notable Facts

Noted Abenaki healer and basket-maker.

Personal Information

Date of Birth

1823

Date of Death

1931?

Primary Residence

Lunenburg

Ethnicity

Native American- Abenaki

Historical Significance

Sarah Jackson Somers was a noted Abenaki healer and basket-maker.

Sarah Jackson Somers, known as Aunt Sarah, was born in 1823 in the Canadian village of St. Francis in Quebec. Her father was tribal chief, Polani-Taxos-Kohla-Kost (Wolf). When Sarah was a young child the family moved to the area known as Lunenburg, Vermont. Before she was seven, Sarah Jackson grew interested in medicine and asked for a medicine bag, which would carry her herbs. Her Aunt Nelamano taught her that while one part of a plant could heal, another part of that same plant could be fatal. One example of Somers' healing skills later in her life involved a five year old boy with a lung infection. Two doctors had seen the child and said that they could do nothing to help him and he would likely die during the night. Somers was fetched and created a poultice to put on his chest. The next morning, the doctors returned and found the boy sitting up and eating soup with Aunt Sarah. Somers was also astute in diagnosing herself, and at 65 recognized that she suffered from heart disease. She felt that the only cure would be to return to nature, so she built herself a small shelter in the woods and spent an entire summer, fall and winter there. When she returned to her family in the spring, she was healed. It has been said that Aunt Sarah lived one hundred and eight winters, and, towards the end of her long life, she grew disappointed that there wasn't anyone who wanted to learn her healing skills. Her own children told her that people went to the doctor when they were sick, and Aunt Sarah responded "People go to Aunt Sarah when it's too hard for the doctor to help." Somers was also an accomplished basket-maker.

Occupations

  • Healer
  • Basket-maker

Additional Information (Bibliography)

  • Aunt Sarah: Woman of the Dawnland Link

  • "Aunt Sarah: Woman of the Dawnland" at Amazon.com Link

  • Obituary Link

Additional Images

Basket made by Aunt Sarah.
Basket made by Aunt Sarah.