Sarah Louisa Shull was born in Shulls Mill of Watauga County, North Carolina to Phillip and Phoebe Ward Shull on 3 October 1833. In 1854/55, she became involved with David Colvert "Colb" McCanles, who was the Watauga County sheriff in the 1850s. They left for the west without his spouse and children. McCanles purchased land in Rock Creek, Nebraska. Somewhat of an rough character, McCanles was killed by James "Wild Bill" Hickok in Rock Creek Station, Jones County, (now Jefferson County), Nebraska in July 1861. In 1863, she married Phillip DeVald in Arapahoe County, Colorado and lived in Wyoming, Iowa, Florida, and Georgia. In 1896, he requested a divorce after becoming involved with a 16 year old named Hertha Berkelman. Sarah contested the divorce but DeVald's second request for divorce was granted in 1899. Shull returned to Shulls Mill and lived with family until 1932 when she was placed in the Watuga County Poor House and died the next day.