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Sally Bush
 
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 home.

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.

 

Sally Bush
Sally Bush with one of her cats
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