Susan Waters (1823-1900)

Born in Binghamton NY May 18 1823 she died in Trenton NJ at the Quaker Nursing home July 7, 1900. Susan Waters first arrived in Bordentown in the mid 1850’s and then returned to stay in 1866. She lived on Mary Street with her husband and parents until she sold her home in 1899 to move to the nursing home.

A woman ahead of her time she married at 17 in 1841 to a kindly Quaker, William C Waters. They never had any children. William’s health was not sound and Susan found that she had to figure out a way to support herself and her ailing husband.

Before settling in Bordentown Susan and William traveled the NY and PA countryside, Susan as an itinerant painter and later an early photographer, she also taught art. With no formal training she developed a much studied technique painting on muslin or canvas. Although she started with primitive portraits she evolved to landscapes and natural settings.  Since William was not well most of the time, Susan was the family’s sole support.

She settled in Bordentown permanently in 1866 – where she painted animals in natural settings and pastoral scenes. Over 50 works were attributed to this period. In 1876 she exhibited several works at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Her house which sill stands is located on Mary Street; at one time the backyard housed the sheep that appeared so prominently in her paintings.  It was not uncommon to pay your bills with bartered goods and Susan used her paintings for that purpose.  She was also active in the Suffrage movement and in animal rights causes. She actively protested for the rights of woman especially the right to vote. She died from natural causes in 1900 she is buried in the Bordentown Cemetery on Cemetery Lane.

The Bordentown Historical Society has several works of Susan Waters in their collection including Sheep in a Meadow.