Sarah Emma Cleggett Hollensworth

Sarah E. (Emma) Cleggett was born in Wisconsin around 1858, the daughter of William S. and Rebecca B. Hollensworth Cleggett. She married her cousin H. T. (Albert) Hollensworth on June 7, 1883 in Appleton. She is listed in some city directories as Mrs. E. C. [Emma Cleggett] Hollensworth. Albert was born in New York around 1860 and is listed on the 1870 federal census as being mulatto. He was the son of Jeremiah Hollensworth and Martha E. Johnson Hollensworth, and half-brother of Mary E. Hollensworth.

Members of the family are listed as mulatto on the 1860 census when they lived in Stevens Point and also on the 1870 and 1880 census schedules when they lived in Appleton. However, in both the 1900 federal census and the 1905 Wisconsin census they are black. By 1910 they were back to mulatto.

Sister Mary's entry in the Lawrence College Alumni Record, 1857-1905 states the family is of "Scotch-Irish-negro ancestry." Sarah is listed as white on her marriage record (Wisconsin, Marriages, 1836-1930, accessed

Emma, as she was known, ran a successful business as a hairdresser. The quilt square shown here, from a redwork quilt of Appleton area businesses circa 1900, includes an advertisement for Emma Hollensworth's hair-dressing business. According to information from Appleton's History Museum at the Castle, for supplemental income Emma served for a brief time as Matron of the city’s Children’s Home for orphans and destitute young women. Emma submitted three letters on behalf of the Children's Home to the Appleton Crescent signed as Matron on January 14, 1893, February 16, 1893, and April 13, 1893.
Image courtesy of the History Museum at the Castle, Appleton.
Used with permission.

The 1889 Appleton city directory has the Cleggett/Hollenswoth family living at 450 State (now 510 S. State St.) In the 1900 federal census Emma is listed as black and married, and lives in her parents' house at 438 State (now 528 W. Fifth St.) with her two daughters Rebecca and Gertrude. In the 1905 Wisconsin census she is divorced and still living with her parents and daughters. She died March 25, 1906 and is buried in Appleton's Riverside Cemetery. Her gravestone bears the name "Mother."

Her Cook County, Illinois death certificate indicates she died of a pulmonary embolism as a result of a hysterectomy at Chicago's St. Luke's hospital, having lived in Illinois for 7 days and having been hospitalized that entire time. She is also listed as black and widowed.