| After her father's death in 1913,
Sally Bush stepped into her family's luxurious private railway
car and traveled across the country to the east coast. When
she returned, Sally had brought her fifty year old sister Eugenia
Sally Bush was 18 years old, visiting away from Salem,
in the winter of 1877 to 1878 when Bush House was being completed
and furnished by her father. When she returned, she became
hostess for her widower father until his death thirty-eight
years later. She would continue to live there for thirty-three
more years until her own death in 1946. "Miss Sally"
of Bush House lived as many a daughter would have in her day:
to serve her family.
Asahel Bush had married Eugenia Zieber on October 12, 1854,
a year after he came to Salem. They had four children: Estelle,
Asahel III, Sally, and Eugenia. Mrs. Bush died of "consumption"
when Sally was three, Eugenia only a year old. Mr. Bush did
not marry again. We can imagine the four children, all under
the age of nine, growing up under the care of a father busy
with his publishing business and politics, left with each
other and the servants.
Sally's older sister Estelle married, and so did her brother.
At some time in her youth, the younger sister Eugenia became
ill and was sent back to the East. Sally, always dressed
in modest gray, became the Lady of the House and as such was
known for the rest of her life.
She was kind and generous to everyone, from the servants
of the house to the many guests who enjoyed her hospitality.
The children of the town who picnicked in the pasture around
the house knew they were welcome. The destitute men of the
Depression understood they would get a "hand- out"
at Miss Sally's kitchen door. She preserved nature on her
property, using a Conservatory for flowers. Nor were animals
ignored: she is said to have enjoyed the presence the farm
animals on the estate, especially a favorite cow and her twenty
seven cats. Miss Sally was ahead of her time in diet: she
was a vegetarian.
Sally's bringing her sister home probably shows the greater
degree of freedom she had after Mr. Bush's death. At
the mid-point of these twenty years when these two sisters
lived together, their older sister Estelle became a widow
and returned to Salem. Known as "Mother Thayer"
she was an elegant lady, active in the local social and cultural
life and must have brought additional pleasure to Sally's
life until Estelle's death in 1942. Sally's brother also shared
the last years of her life, joining her in photography and
producing with her many family albums and home movies.
Sally even bought an electric car, but abandoned it after
only one drive to the nearby pharmacy - where she drove through
the front window. She only dealt in cash: finding herself
without the money to pay for a grocery purchase, she refused
credit, going to the bank to withdraw the necessary funds.
Sally lived only four years after her older sister. Her passing
came at a time when women were enjoying greater freedom than
ever before. Not only were their lives as wives taking advantage
of new housekeeping miracles, but jobs opened to them a few
years before during the war years were becoming career possibilities.
What did Miss Sally of Bush House think of these changes?
Would this gentle lady who devoted herself to her father and
his children have traded places with the young women she saw
in Salem ? Perhaps not. She was as much a woman of her time
as they were, and no doubt enjoyed as many personal pleasures
- and sorrows.
The Bush family home is now a historic home museum open to
the public. The family's large estate grounds, now known
as Bush's Pasture Park, is operated as a city park.
Compiled by Virginia Green.