52 Ancestors,
in 52 Weeks
Week 19:
Family Finds Charter Oak

Service to Others

I have mentioned my great aunt Sadie Osborne in two previous posts, “In The Paper” and “Luck”. [1] Both those posts reference Sadie’s service as a policewoman with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. But, before Sadie became a policewoman in 1918 she was a deaconess in the service of the Methodist Episcopal Church. A deaconess was a woman who ministered to the community through social work.

Sadie M. Osborne, 1888 – 1940

Sadie Marzella Osborne was born July 19, 1888 in the home of her maternal grandparents in Port Jefferson, Ohio. Sadie’s parents were Jennie (Warbington) and David Osborne of Indianapolis, and the family returned there after her birth. Sadie’s father worked as an interior finisher in the booming building industry in Indianapolis. When Sadie was a child, her family lived in the Windsor Park neighborhood of Indianapolis where she attended IPS #33 elementary and Shortridge High School. [2]

Sadie Osborne 1918

Deaconess Training

In 1908, Sadie enrolled at the National Training School for Deaconesses and Missionaries in Kansas City, MO and was in the graduating class of 1910. [3] After graduating from the deaconess program, Sadie returned home to Indianapolis to do social work among the poor of the city. The duties she performed included providing training to housewives to improve household sanitary conditions. Sadie also provided general nursing and first aid, as well as counseling, to those in need. [4]

Fisk Hall
Class of 1910

Sadie Osborne is top right

Social Work

In 1912, Sadie was among the first women to live in the Deaconess Home on N. Capitol Ave. The home was across the street from the, then, new Methodist (Episcopal) Hospital where the deaconesses performed many duties in support of the nursing staff, the hospital patients, and the patient’s families. [5] Sadie’s role as a deaconess doing social work later evolved into working for the Travelers Aid Association at Union Station and the Traction Barn where she aided women and girls traveling alone. As well as, being on the lookout for vice crimes and activities that preyed on women. Sadie’s work and position in the community led to her appointment in May 1918 as one of the first police women in Indianapolis. [6]

Sadie’s application for the police position is preserved at the Indiana State Archive and I had the opportunity to view it in 2015. It’s a typed half sheet in the form of a reference letter from an attorney for the Traveler’s Aid Association. [7]


Miss Osborne took three years training in Kansas City for the work of a deaconess under the auspices of the Methodist Church.


She has been doing active work in Indianapolis for seven years, she has been at the Union Station under the Traveler’s Aid Association. Miss Osborne is a most efficient social worker. She is intelligent and her judgment is good. She has a most pleasing personality which counts for much in her work. In her work with girls she has been most successful. Her experience fits her particularly for the work in the police department.



I don’t know why Sadie chose to go into service to others, first as a social worker and then as a policewoman. In both roles she particularly served the needs of women and children. I have read accounts of her caring for whole families struck down with influenza. Her service to the community made a difference to those she assisted.


By 1932, Sadie was having health problems that led to her retiring from the IMPD. Soon after, her home was foreclosed and she went to live with her sister Pearl (my grandmother.) Sadly, Sadie died from breast cancer on January 28, 1940. The Deaconess Training School remembered Sadie with an obituary in their newsletter, see image. [8]



  1. Posts on Family Finds: https://barblafara.com/in-the-paper/
  2. Profile for Sadie Osborn, ‘Osborn‘ family tree, Ancestry.com;
  3. Newsletter: The Kansas City Deaconess, June 1910, Vol. II, No. 9, page 1, image: Class of 1910. Accessed online: https://cdm15926.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15926coll1/id/1650
  4. Newspaper article: “Deaconesses Work Among the City’s Poor”, The Indianapolis Star, March 10, 1912, page 20, col 2, with image; Access online: https://www.newspapers.com/image/7488063/
  5. Newspaper article: “Deaconesses in New Home”, The Indianapolis Star, 3 Nov 1912, p. 23, col. 2, with images; Access online: https://www.newspapers.com/image/7734205
  6. Newspaper article: “Women Get Police Powers” Indianapolis News, 2 May 1918, p. 9, col. 3, below fold; Access online: https://www.newspapers.com/image/?spot=4164373
  7. Entry for Sadie M. Osborne; Indiana State Archive: 54-L-2, Box-11, Accession Number: 9999999 Public Safety Comm meeting minutes of 10 Jun 1918. Viewed 7 Aug 2015 at 6440 E. 30th St. building in Indianapolis. Index online: https://secure.in.gov/apps/iara/search/Home/Detail?rId=1384478
  8. Newsletter: The Kansas City Deaconess, March 1940, Vol. XXXII, No. 3, page 8, “Alumnae and Beth-Haven News”, Accessed online:


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