Mother's Day founding

Taken from a Special Edition of "The Gleaner"
printed November 21, 1999
permissive use granted by Editor
newspaper provided by Vonette Shelton-Curtis

Mother's Day founding traced to local woman

By Judy Jenkins
of The Gleaner staff

On the second Sunday in May each year when a small child proudly presents a hand-made card to a young mom...And a teen coyly hides a large box of chocolates behind his back and teases his mother...And an elderly woman inhales the fragrance of a bright bouquet from her offsring...It's all due, some believe, to an energetic, red-haired teacher from Henderson, Ky.

Mary Towles Sasseen, descended from several of the county's most venerable families, is credited by a past Kentucky General Assembly with being the founder of Mother's Day, and a state historical marker has been erected at the Center and Green Street corner where he school once stood. According to local accounts, it was in May 1887 that Ms. Sasseen led her elementary students in a salute to their mothers. The event was so successful that she made it an annual observation and, in 1893, published a brochure intended to help teachers throughout the country provide similar Mother's Day celebrations in their schools.

She noted in the publication - printed 14 years before West Virginia and Philadelphia resident Anna Jarvis began campaigning for a Mother's Day - that by observing Mother's Day yearly, "much of the veneration, love and respect due to parents might, by song, verse and story, be inculated in the next generation." When visiting her sister in Springfield, Ohio, she introduced her idea and that city's schol schedule for 1890 includes a "Mother's Day."

Around 1900, Ms. Sasseen gave up teaching, married Judge Marshall Wilson and relocated to Florida, where she died in 1906. She was denied national recognition as the creator of Mother's Day. That status went to Ms. Jarvis, but a 1932 article in the Milwaukee Journal Magazine predicted that "time will bring a general knowledge of the facts, and then the whole country will join with loyal Kentucky in honoring her who launched the Mother's Day crusade..."

transcribed by Tina Hall 5-28-2007

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