By Enid Davis
Did you know that the great, great, great, great grandniece of George Washington attended Miss Harker’s School?
According to the 1952 yearbook, “The Echo,” fourth grader Margot Washington was descended from George Washington’s oldest brother, Samuel Washington. George Washington had no children of his own, so the article states that, “All of the Washingtons of today are descended from George Washington’s brothers and sisters. Except for her father, Lawrence Washington, Margot is the closest living relative of George Washington, who bears the name of Washington.”
Source: “The Echo.” Miss Harker’s School, 1952. (Palo Alto, CA) p. 12.
Sarah Ellen Polk Harker
Sarah Ellen was the mother of Catherine and Sara D. Harker, the women who founded and ran Miss Harker’s School for Girls in Palo Alto.
Mrs. Harker was born in Indiana on October 28, 1845. That would have made her two years old when the family joined the Oregon Trail and she suffered the loss of her father. He died of pneumonia, after being exposed to bad weather while crossing a raging river.
Sarah’s father’s name was Adam Polk. He was a cousin of President Polk. He came from Kentucky with his three sons to La Porte, Ind., and served (it is believed) as foreman for her grandfather, Nathaniel Winchell. Sarah’s parents married in 1842 and had two children together, Sarah and her sister Caroline.
Years later Sarah married James Bartlett Harker, a native of New Jersey. He died the same year Catherine Harker opened her school. Sarah and James had three daughters: Catherine, Sara and Caroline. Tragedy struck the family on June 18, 1893, when Caroline, the youngest daughter, committed suicide by drowning during a state of depression at age 22.
Sarah Harker eventually left Portland, Ore., where the family had settled, to work at Miss Harker’s School. In 1902, Sarah’s sister Mrs. Caroline Wellman joined her. Together, the Harker women put all their energies into Miss Harker’s School.
Sarah’s daughters never married, but their much-loved students became their legacy.