Sarah Scull Residence 2008
Corner of West Water Street & Washington
photo credit: Ross Porter Collection 2008

Miss Sarah Amelia Scull
Smethport's Most Highly Esteemed Daughter

Sarah Amelia Scull was Noted Authority on Greek Mythology

McKean County Democrat Smethport Centennial Edition- June 18, 1853

At the time of her death in 1913, Miss Sarah Amelia Scull of Smethport was mentioned in the local press as “One of the most talented and highly educated women in this State.”

As a Greek scholar her position was unique. She made a profound study of Greek Mythology. She was the author of a work entitled “Greek Mythology Systematized” and other kindred works.

Her collection of authorities on the subject and of photographs made in Athens under her direction were unsurpassed.

She was a teacher and a lecturer of note upon Greek art. As a pupil of Smethport Academy, of which her father, Paul E. Scull, was one of the corporations, she set in its history an undying star. Her further studies were prosecuted in the university at Lima, N.Y. She taught in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and others.

She had famous Greek studios in Washington and Athens. How completely her life became absorbed in the thrilling grandeur of Greek art is illustrated in the following passage from the eloquent funeral speech of her former pastor Rev. W. A. Harris.
“I have listened as she told of standing for the first time before the crumbling splendor of the Parthenon, beholding that wonder of Greek art, as it gleamed like a broken jewel in the sunlight, while the tears fell down upon the sacred dust from which had flown forever the noble spirit of her loved Greece.”

But what shall be said of the personality of this rare, gifted, favorite daughter of McKean for the eye of future generations to read. Perhaps Mrs. Ada M. Young, writing as if or the community, has given to it the best expression when she says, “We all loved her dearly.”

In more measured phrase her pastor contributed his portrayal in those culled passages wherein he spoke of the common “admiration for the childlike simplicity of her life, its gentleness of spirit and charm of manner, its gift of friendship, its devotion to beauty, both in nature and in art, and for its still more intense devotion to truth and goodness.
“She held this simplicity in such a natural way that it gave to her certain nobleness of character… Who of us shall ever forget the sweet gentleness that was as much a part of her as the fragrance of the rose?

“For her beauty was the smile which God had thrown out upon the universe… The beauty which appealed to her most strongly was that embodied in the mythology and art and literature of the ancient Greeks.

“In her book Greek Mythology Systematized, she has written: ‘Wherever human beings have lived we find this mingling of hope and fear, this evidence of the spirit’s consciousness of its divine origin and heavenly destination, taking pathetic expression in its sacrifices, votive offerings, priesthoods, sacred fanes and festivals. We admit that these were but indirect revelations, but we hold that they were God-given and not the result of mental processes’.

“It does not seem to us a strange thing that she should be the friend and associate of scholars and lovers of art and religious leaders of our own and other lands nor that her qualities of mind and heart won for her the friendship of statesmen, bishops, editors, and authors whose names are household words.

“It is not so easy to understand how she bore toward all the same gracious manner of a true friend nor how she held the affection of the highest and the humblest just as she held ours who would pay her a tribute of love this day.”

By invitation of the Pompeiton Club she addressed that famous forum on the evening of the 25th of February 1888. The Bradford “Era” next morning published the following report:
“A sweet, womanly, intellectual face, surmounted by a coronet of silver hair; a petite form, robed in a costume of gray lustrous silk, such is the agreeable, attractive personnel of Miss S. Amelia Scull, who lectured under the auspices of the Pompriton Club Saturday evening on ‘The Shrines and Deities of Ancient Greece.’

This dainty cultured lady has explored Attica, stood upon Olympia, photographed the sacred places of Greece, gazed upon all that is beautiful and ennobling in art of the world’s art treasures and crystallized this knowledge into an agreeable entertaining lecture. This is profusely illustrated from photographs taken by herself of the objects and places seen and visited.

Miss Scull is an undoubted enthusiast in the fascinating study of ancient mythology, and brings all the knowledge acquired by years of research, study and travel before her hearers.

The gifted lecturer traced the gradual evolution, the upward influence as expressed in the ennobling forms, the drawing of inspiration in the purity and majesty of expression in the wondrous art work of Greek genius.

In the diminished light, looking at the illuminated pictures of the gods and goddesses, listening to a musical voice recalling Jupiter, Plato, Apollo, Minerva, Diana, Juno, and Venus, ancient mythology becomes a reality: the enthusiasm of the speaker becomes contagious; the heroic deeds of the Trojans are again enacted, Doric architecture is all that is ideally beautiful.

The speaker gracefully expressed acknowledgements to Pompleton Club: its president thanked the speaker for her entertaining and instructive lecture, and two hours journey in ancient Greece was ended.”

Read Sarah Scull's entire "Greek Mythology Systematized" HERE

Miss. Scull Celebrates 79th Birthday

McKean County Miner, November 28, 1912

The Smethport correspondent to the Bradford Stat-Record of Monday says of Smethport’s most highly respected ladies: Today is the seventy-ninth birthday of Miss Sarah Amelia Scull, one of Smethport’s oldest and most honored residents. As a teacher and author, Miss Scull has a wide spread fame, having spent many years in Philadelphia and Washington and numbers among her friends many of the nation’s best known and most honored citizens. She is spending her declining years in the home of her girlhood and many old friends and neighbors called today to express their best wishes and great esteem for one greatly honored and respected by all.

Perhaps a fatal fire Saturday Eve.
Miss S.A. Scull's Home Fire Swept.
The Lady Receives Burns of a Serious Nature.

McKean County Democrat, Feburary 13, 1913

Shortly afret 10 o'clock last Saturday nightfire broke out at the home of Miss Sarah Amelia Scull, on Water Street, near the Kushequa depot, from the effects of which this noted educational author will undoubtedly lose her life from burns received in her efforts to extinguish the fire. The fire originated in the bathroom of the house which is located off the basement kitchen, where Miss Scull spent most of time. Hearing a noise in the adjoining room Miss Scull entered the same, only to find a blaze caused by the paper on the ceiling becoming loose and falling down over a gas light. She undertook to put the fire out, but in doing so her hair and clothing took fire, and then she rushed outdoors and gave the alarm, which was most fortunately heard by Miss Carrie Natello, who resides with her mother in rooms over the Kushequa depot, and by F.H. Biever, who lives nearby. With rare presence of mind Miss Natello seized a blanket and rushed to Miss Scul's assistance, and throwing the blanket around that lady succeeded in extinguishing the flames. After the fire had been extinguished the aged lady was tenderly carried to the Natello home and Drs. Osrander and McCoy were called, who have her the necessary medical attention.

The fire department was soon on the ground, but the found the fire a most stubborn one to combat with - due to the high wind that was prevailing at the time, and before they succeeded in getting the flames under control the house and contents were nearly ruined by fire and water. Besides the serious injury of Miss Scull received, priceless manuscripts were, we understand, ruined. The manuscript on Greek mythology in which Miss Scull had spent the past twelve or fifteen years in writing was destroyed, besides many valuable views that this talented lady had secured during her extended visit in Greece a quarter of a century ago were badly damaged. This history, probably, can never be replaced, and to the educational world the loss will be almost irreplaceable.

Miss Scull suffered he principal injuries about the head, shoulders and hands. Her hair was entirely bruned from her head, a part of an ear burned off, and her neck and shoulders were badly burned, and owing to her advanced years, upward of 79, very little encouragement is held out for her recovery. On Sunday morning she was removed to the home of Mr. John Forreat, where everything that medical skill can sugest and loving ministration of friends can do to ease her condition is being done.

We understand that there was an insurance of $1,500 carried on the house and contents. The years of work of this noted author, whic were of priceless value to the educational world, are probably a total loss, as, in the event of Miss Scull's recovery, she would never be in condition to take up the work again and complete it.

Death of Miss Sarah Amelia Scull

McKean County Miner, February 20, 1913

Died at the home Mr. and Mrs. John Forrest, at about 1:00 o’clock last Friday morning, as a result at the severe burns, and attendant shock she received at the fire at her home on Water street, on Saturday night, Feb. 8th, Miss Sarah Amelia Scull.

At the time the Democrat went to press last Thursday Miss Scull’s condition was precarious, with scarcely any hope that she would rally from the coma in which she lay for several days before the end came. While this aged and beloved woman never suffered any pain from her burns, and for a day or two after the accident was in a most cheerful frame of mind, she gradually declined from the effects of the shock, advanced age being decidedly against her in the unequal struggle against the inevitable, and she quietly passed away at the time mentioned.

Miss Scull was born in Monroe County, N.Y., neat the city of Rochester, on November 25, 1834, being a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Paul Scull, who were among the early settlers of Smethport. At the age of 14 the subject of this sketch began teaching in this county, a vocations which she followed during nearly all her long life. Her thirst for knowledge developed early in her life, and it was her ambition to secure a higher education. With the money she earned as a teacher she paid her way through Wesleyan Seminary, at Lima, N.Y. After she graduated at that institution she went to Meadville, Pa., where she secured the position in the Pittsburgh Female College. After a time she obtained a position in the Chestnut Street Seminary, Philadelphia, in which city in company with two other ladies she afterwards established the Logan Square Seminary. This venture proved unsuccessful owing to the panic of 1877. For some time thereafter she was connected with a school at Ogantz, near Philadelphia. From there she went to Washington, D.C., where she filled the position of vice-principal of Mount Vernon Seminary, in that city, for some time, which was her last active school work. It was while in Washington that she perfected her plans for carrying out a long cherished ambition to visit Greece, as she was greatly interested in the study of Greek mythology and art. In 1886 she set out on the trip to Greece, where she made a close study of everything pertaining to the history of that wonderful country, its ruins, art, etc. During her sojourn in Greece Miss Scull secured with her own camera about five hundred views of Grecian ruins and statuary, which are said to be the finest extant. While abroad Miss Scull pursued her interesting studies in Paris and London, and during nearly twenty-five years this talented lady has spent nearly all her time in preparing works on Grecian history. She has issued two books, “Greed Mythology Systematized,” and “Catalogue on Greek Art,” which are said to be masterpieces. During the past twelve years Miss Scull had been busily engaged in compiling a more elaborate work on Grecian history, but the hand of death stayed her in her work, and we understand that the manuscript for the planned work, which had required all these years of diligent work, was badly damaged by the fire that caused her death.

At the early age of 13 years Miss Scull united with the Methodist church, with which she affiliated for nearly seventy years. Hers was a beautiful Christian life, and inspiration to all who came in contact with this devout woman. A more loveable character never existed that was Miss Scull, and her sad death under such distressing circumstances caused profound sorrow throughout this entire community, where she was personally known to nearly every person in it. Her only surviving relatives are a brother, Victor Scull, who is an inmate of a soldiers’ home somewhere in the West, and two nephews who reside in Arkansas.

The funeral of Miss Scull was held at the M. E. church at 10:30 Sunday morning, Rev. W.A. Harris, of Medina, N.Y., a former pastor of the Smethport Methodist church, and Rev. E.S. Beacom, pastor in charge, conducting the services. There was a large attendance of sorrowing friends present at the service. Previous to removing the remains to the church, Rev. W.E. VanDyke, rector of St. Luke’s church, conducted prayer services at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Forrest.
In the death of Miss Scull Smethport has lost one of its best beloved residents, a lady who will be missed in every walk of life in this borough.