Sarah Ann "Sallie" Stinson was born in Georgia in 1854. She moved to Texas in 1868 with her two brothers, John and James, and her widowed father, a former Confederate colonel named James Alexander Stinson. Sallie’s father soon remarried, and he prospered as the owner of a large plantation with a gristmill and sawmill in a settlement called Speer, 11 miles from Quitman in Wood County.
In 1869 Sallie went to a private school in Quitman. There, at age 14, she met Jim Hogg, age 18. Jim was taking a short course at the school with money he had made from sharecropping. After Jim’s course finished, the two parted ways. Sallie continued her education, and Jim went off to seek his fortune.
Five years after their first meeting, Jim Hogg, now an ambitious young justice of the peace in Wood County, began courting Sallie. Jim proposed and Sallie said yes, but before they could marry, they had to convince Sallie’s father. Col. Stinson did not look with favor on their courtship. He wanted Sallie to finish her education and find a more prosperous suitor. However, Sallie was able to convince her father otherwise, and the two were married in the Stinson parlor on April 22, 1874.
Historically, Sallie has been depicted as the “five foot two, petite,” soft-spoken, proper Victorian counterpart to her larger-than-life husband, the one who served the traditional 19th-century role of “civilizing force” in the home. The most recent study of the Hogg family, however, has suggested that the idealized Victorian portrayals of Sallie, many of them put forth by Ima, are misleading.
They have overlooked her “steely determination,” her partnership with husband in managing family and business affairs, and her willingness to balance traditionally strict parenting with more emotional and indulgent child-rearing. These portrayals also overlook the influence that Sallie had on the sense of public responsibility her children absorbed. Her teachings in the home, which were inspired by the Social Gospel prevalent at the time, taught the Hogg children “that they must nurture the communities that had nurtured them.”
In the summer of 1895 Sallie was diagnosed with tuberculosis, an endemic disease with a high fatality rate. She died on September 21, 1895, with her husband and children at her bedside. She was 41 years old.