Anna Jarvis and Mother's Day

Grafton Daily Sentinel
November 26, 1948

Private Services Saturday For Miss Anna M. Jarvis

Burial To Take Place in Family Plot in Pennsylvania

Miss Anna M. Jarvis, native Grafton woman who is recognized throughout the nation as the founder of Mother's Day, will be given a final resting place in the Jarvis family plot at West Laurel hill cemetery in Montgomery county, Pa., on Saturday, it was announced today by her attorney, H. S. J. Sickel.

The burial will be private, without public viewing, all in accordance with the deceased woman's request, it was explained by Mr. Sickel, who is chairman of the committee of friends which has provided for her care in her declining years.

A letter revealing her death and burial date was received this morning by C. V. Miller, an active member of Andrews Methodist church, "Mother Church of Mother's Day," who has actively promoted the Mother's Day observance since the first official event was held in Grafton in 1908.

Miss Jarvis, a lonely spinster, who fought vigorously but in vain against the commercialization of Mother's Day, died Wednesday at 1 a. m. - blind and penniless. Her death in a quiet sanitorium in suburban West Chester followed a long illness.

Partially deaf and unhappy in her last years, Miss Jarvis died of old age, doctors said. She had lived in the home since early 1944 when friends learning of her impoverished plight collected funds and placed her there.

Deeply sentimental, Miss Jarvis started Mother's Day observance on the second anniversary of her own mother's death - May 9, 1907 - by gathering a few friends at her home for a memorial service.

The movement spread. Miss Jarvis wrote to legislative and executive officers of nations and states urging adoption of the day legally. Finally her prodding pen, waxing sentimental, won over President Woodrow Wilson. In 1914 he proclaimed the second Sunday in May a "Flag Holiday" - honoring the nation's mothers.

Miss Jarvis was born May 1, 1864 in Grafton, W. Va., the daughter of Granville E. Reeves and Anna Reeves Jarvis. She came to Philadelphia in 1904.

Then her mother died - and she began the single-handed struggle to make Mother's Day into an international observance. The occasion now is recognized in 40 countries.

The success of the movement led Miss Jarvis to give up her former work as clerk for an insurance company. In times her correspondence with churches, business men, governors and others overflowed the red brick house in which she lived with her blind sister, Elsinore. She bought the house next door for storage.

The grey-haired woman who founded the day out of sentimental devotion, reverence and love went to war against money-makers and the publicity seekers.

Once she threatened to sue Governor Al Smith of New York over plans for a gigantic Mother's Day meeting in 1923. Eight years later she tangled with Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt over a rival Mother's Day committee.

Miss Jarvis incorporated herself as "the Mother's Day International Association", and although no one ever learned of another member of the corporation she always spoke of the group as "We."

She copyrighted the name including in it an official Mother's Day program bearing the legend - "Official Program, all others are infringements." She drew no income from the corporation.

Her battle against the commercial interests, however, was a losing one. Finally, retiring in semi-seclusion, she tended flowers grown from her mother's grave and cared for sister Elsinore, her only close relative. Elsinore died in 1944.

The Miss Jarvis asked to be admitted as a patient at Philadelphia General Hospital. Friends intervened, placed her in the sanitorium.

Though all alone in death, hundreds of people the world over counted Miss Jarvis as their friend.

One letter she cherished most hung on the wall of her sanitorium room. From a little boy, it read:

"I am six years old and I love my mother very much. I am sending you this because you started Mother's Day."

Carefully sewed to the letter was a dollar bill.

Anna Jarvis' last wishes - for a private funeral - will be carried out. Rites will consist of a simple Christian ceremony at the grave.


West Virginia Archives and History