Anna Jarvis and Mother's Day

Grafton Daily Sentinel
November 26, 1948

Grafton, Northern W. Va. Proud Of Mother's Day Connection

Historian Relates Interesting Data About First Observance

By E. E. Meredith

It is only natural that residents of Northern West Virginia should be proud of their connection with the establishment of "Mother's Day" as a world-wide occasion in which motherhood is idealized.

The death of Miss Anna Jarvis, daughter of Mrs. Anna Reeves Jarvis, the "Mother of Mothers Day", brings those associated with the founding of the day into the limelight. Norman F. Kendall, now a resident of Fairmont, who delivered the first "Mother's Day address in May 1907 and Judge Ira E. Robinson, of Philippi, who as a delegate to the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal church at Minneapolis, in 1912, introduced the resolution which passed giving recognition to the day.

The late Dr. Harry C. Howard, who delivered the sermon at the Andrews Methodist church at Grafton at a "Mothers' Day" service, purely local, often regretted the errors which have appeared in articles telling of the "founding" of the day. He was a graduate of Ohio Northern University, who accepted his first charge at Kingwood and had been transferred to Grafton. The late Harry Souders, of Fairmont, was proud to have been a member of the male quartette, singing at an early observance of the day at Grafton. The late L. L. Loar, of Clarksburg, was a resident of Grafton in the days of the beginning of "Mothers' Day" observance and it was largely due to him that the movement extended from Grafton to other points.

Mr. Kendall wrote a "History of Mothers' Day" in 1937 from which it is gleaned:

Mrs. Anna Reeves Jarvis organized "Mothers' Work" in churches, made frequent talks on great "Mothers of the Bible" and at the end of the Civil War held a "Mothers' Friendship Day" service at Pruntytown where both Union and Confederate soldiers fraternalized.

It was on the first anniversary of her mother's death that Miss Anna Jarvis reviewed the outstanding accomplishments of her mother during Civil War days. It was decided to have a "Mothers' Day" at the Andrews church annually on the second Sunday in May.

The first real "Mothers' Day" was observed at Grafton on May 12, 1907, in honor of Anna Reeves Jarvis and other mothers who worked with her. On May 10, 1908, the day was launched as a general memorial for all mothers.

Miss Anna Jarvis was born at Webster. Her mother, a daughter of a minister, was Junion Superintendent of the Sunday school at Grafton for a quarter of a century. The mother died in Philadelphia, Pa., May 9, 1905. The family had moved from Grafton but the standing in that community is shown by the fact that Charles R. Durbin, George M. Whitescarver, Dr. A. S. Warder and John T. McGraw were pallbearers.

The mother was the real creator of the day through her church work. The daughter got the idea of extending the service from Grafton to the world and spent many years in contacting the proper people a___ing that the day would be founded on the world's most beautiful sentiment.

Until "Mothers' Day" was established the carnation had never been exalted as the rival of the rose or the lily. But when Anna Jarvis selected it as the emblem of "Mother" and of "Mothers' Day" it became the favorite flower in the United States as well as the one esteemed above all others in Great Britain. Anna Jarvis in her later years deplored the commercializing of the day and in 1911 she sent 500 carnations to Grafton from Philadelphia at the first "Mothers' Day" to be given to mothers present, and 25 to be placed on her father's grave and 25 on her brothers' grave in Bluemont cemetery. A receipted bill was found in the box for 500 carnations at one-half cent each, totaling $2.50. The second year she sent 1,000 at one cent each. The third year she sent 2,000 at three cents each. The next year they cost 10 cents each and the following year 15 cents each.


West Virginia Archives and History