Sophronia Farrington was the first woman missionary of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Farrington grew up in Herkimer, New York, one of ten children. She graduated from Cazenovia (New York) Seminary and taught school for several years. In November 1833 she sailed with Rufus Spaulding and Samuel O. Wright and their wives for the mission in Liberia, begun by Melville Cox that March. The missionaries landed in Monrovia on New Year’s Day 1834 and immediately fell ill. Phebe Wright died February 4, her husband March 29. When the Spauldings decided to return to the United States, Farrington refused to go with them, fearing that the church would abandon the mission if she left. She wrote, “I laid my life on the altar on leaving America, and I am willing that it should remain there.” She remained alone and ill with fever in Liberia from May 17, 1834, until reinforcements arrived that fall. Her health did not improve, and she returned to the United States the following spring, arriving in New York on April 29, 1835. She settled in Utica, New York. In 1851 she married George Cone, a grocer.
Susan E. Warrick
There is no complete biography of Farrington, but information about her missionary experiences appears in Wade Crawford Barclay, History of Methodist Missions, vol. 1 (1949), and John M. Reid, Missions and Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1879).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.