West Virginia is for Mothers

May 9, 2013 |

By Joey Aloi

West Virginia’s Anna Jarvis is recognized as the founder of Mother’s Day. Her birthplace in Taylor County is located along Us 119, and the local community there celebrates her family each year at the annual Mother’s Day Festival.

Jarvis established the first Mother’s Day celebration to honor the work of her mother, Anna Reeves Jarvis. Anna Reeves Jarvis was a social activist who encouraged mothers to help heal the split communities of West Virginia after the difficult years of the Civil War. Mothers whose sons had served on both the Union and the Confederate sides of the war came together to enjoy the first Mothers Friendship Day, which Anna Reeves Jarvis organized in 1868.

Anna Reeves Jarvis also organized Mother’s Day Work Clubs to help improve social and health issues in West Virginia. The women bought medicine, inspected water supplies, and learned health education from local physicians.

President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first national Mother’s Day on May 10, 1914. By the 1920s, Anna Jarvis (daughter of Anna Reeves Jarvis) began campaigning against the commercialized holiday Mother’s Day had become. The celebrations she had first helped organize to honor the social activism of her mother had quickly become monopolized by the greeting card industry. How true her words seem today, just as much as when she spoke them:

“A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”
         —Anna Jarvis.


Photo courtesy of Olive Dadisman

Anna Jarvis’s Birthplaceis open as a museum, located just outside of Grafton and along US Rt. 119. US 119 is another wonderful mountain highway that is a kind of a sister to US 219. US 119 runs through the historic communities of Buckhannon, Phillipi and Grafton, WV.

This Saturday, May 11th, you can stop by for the annual Mother’s Day Festival, which begins at 2:00. Call 304-265-5549 for information about the festival and the museum.

This year will be the 105th Mother’s Day Founders Day in Grafton. Music, food, and special talks about the history of Mother’s Day. Following the program, Donna Boyce & Friends will present an afternoon of Gospel Music. Sunday May 12th, Mother’s Day  tours available all day, call 304-265-5549

Sources: 1. The West Virginia Encyclopedia.   2. Malcolm S. Forbes, Jeff Bloch (1991). Women Who Made a Difference. Simon & Shuster.


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