The History Of Mother's Day: More Reason For Pride

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If you're from Grafton, West Virginia,
you learn the history of Mother's Day at an early age. 

Why? Because the first Official Mother's Day church service was held in the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Grafton on May 10, 1908. I was born in Grafton, WV. I still have a farm there that we visit each summer. As a young boy, I took great pride in this piece of Mother's Day history. Even now, as an adult, it is a source of pride. The fact that my wife now writes a blog called only strengthens that pride. But it's only part of the story.

Mother's Day Is An Important Part Of
The History Of The Women's Rights Movement.

Anna Jarvis PhotoI grew up thinking that Grafton native, Anna Jarvis, created the idea for Mother's day. This is not the case.

The concept of Mother's Day was first put forth by Julia Ward Howe. She is best known for writing Battle Hymn of the Republic, but she was also extremely active in the women's rights movement. Nine years after writing that song, she wrote the original Mother's Day Proclamation that called on Mother of the world to unite for peace. I did not know this fact until this week. Again, I am moved. Mothers Fighting For Others is my wife's activist blog and Julia Ward Howe's mission over 130 years ago could just as easily be her mission today.

The Role Of Anna Jarvis 

37 years after the original proclamation, Anna Jarvis, a women's rights activist herself, began a campaign to make Mother's Day an official national holiday. In 1914, that campaign worked. President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother's Day as a national Holiday. On  May 10, 1908, churches in Grafton and Philadelphia held Mother's Day celebrations. The service at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton honored the memory of Anna Jarvis' own mother, Mrs. Anna Reeves Jarvis

I Am More Proud Now Than Ever

I am proud because I have a front row seat watching Mother's like Rocky, Julie, Tracy and Robin take up Julia and Anna's torch and carry forward the notion that Mother's can make a difference... that Mothers are uniquely suited to make a difference on a global scale. And so, I think it's important that we all read the original Mother's Day Proclamation written by Julia Ward Howe. Perhaps, like me, you will now see Mother's Day in a whole new light. 

The Original Mother's Day Proclamation:

    Arise, then, women of this day!
    Arise, all women who have breasts,
    Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

    Say firmly:
    "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

    From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
    It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."

    Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.

    As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
    Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

    Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
    Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
    Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
    Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
    But of God.

    In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
    That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
    May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
    And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
    To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
    The amicable settlement of international questions,
    The great and general interests of peace.



Comments (30)

"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL

{SVW Hubba}...

Well I have to be the first one to say I know the history of Mother's Day. But the only reason I know it is because one of our Son's once did an essay about Mother's Day. Like you, he was Wowed by the facts. After my Son did his essay he stopped calling his Mother (ME) a feminist :)


May 11, 2007 07:58 AM
Sarah Cooper
Real Estate Shows - Hurricane, WV

First, Woo-hoo Grafton!!!  Growing up in WV, I knew this part.

What I didn't know was that Mother's Day was tied to the fight for women's rights.  I'm so glad you wrote this.  I didn't know this part of the history, and raising daughters I KNOW they are at least equal to any man.  (Or better.  C'mon, I'm their MOM, I think highly of them.)  I try to make sure they know it too, so that someday their sense of self worth may protect them.  (There are times when a woman who has a low opinion of herself is in more danger than one that knows her worth, but that's off topic.)

I'm even more proud, too.  :o)  Glad I bought those Muthahood shirts for our Moms this year, they seem even more appropriate.

Dad wanted me to ask if you know the Joyces in Grafton, they'd be his cousins.  I didn't know that either!

May 11, 2007 08:05 AM
"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL


You are just so cute. I think I better share with Hubba that I believe you smell like sugar :)


May 11, 2007 08:08 AM
Lysa Napolitano
Daytona Beach, FL
Jeff, another excellent powerful post. Once again I am so glad I was sent your way, I know I'm going to learn so much here!

TLW I am going to join in on that belief! I wish she could come to Orlando.
May 11, 2007 10:52 AM
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate
I did not know that Julia Ward Howe was responsible for Mother's Day. A great patriot and mom.
May 11, 2007 11:27 AM
"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL


I do too. We could use her to sweeten our Irish coffee's :)


May 11, 2007 11:39 AM
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI
I forget where I saw this on tv...maybe history channel ....but it is something how women had to fight for recognition..Hey, we're great mothers and women..multi tasking I say!
May 11, 2007 12:46 PM
Jeannette Morrison
Cedar Park,Leander,Georgetown & Lake Travis Areas. - Cedar Park, TX
Central Texas Real Estate, NW Austin, Round Rock


This was beautiful...thank you for posting the history.  I remember learning that Woodrow Wilson had made it a national holiday.  I thought his wife had something to do with that as well?  I never knew the full history and I'm glad I took the time to read your blog!

My fathers family is from a little town called Given West Virginia and many family members still live in Ripley.  Its a beautiful state with so much to offer.  I have fond memories traveling there -camping along the way. -Visiting my family's farm, helping harvest, and riding horses.

As a mother of two wonderful boys, I can say being a mother is the thing I am most proud of and the most rewarding!

May 11, 2007 04:25 PM
Sarah Cooper
Real Estate Shows - Hurricane, WV

Ooooh!  Irish coffee??  Gotta' get to Florida!!  :oD 

May 12, 2007 12:13 AM
Sarah Cooper
Real Estate Shows - Hurricane, WV
Jeff Turner
RealSatisfied - Santa Clarita, CA
Sarah... thanks for that link! Awesome. My mom is actually here in Los Angeles from Grafton. I asked her about the Joyces and she is killing herself right now trying to put a face to a name. She says the name sound very familiar. Send me an email with their first names and ages and it might help her. She's getting old. (She standing over me as I write this.)
May 12, 2007 02:50 AM
Jeff Turner
RealSatisfied - Santa Clarita, CA
Nevermind... I just saw your email with the info. Mom is calling her husband in Grafton... Mom was away from Grafton for 40 years and just moved back last year. 
May 12, 2007 02:53 AM
Rosemary Brooks
BMC Real Estate - 209-910-3706 - Stockton, CA
The Mother & Daughter Realty Team
A Tribute to Mother's Power Reaching out to Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunties and everyone that has an influencial woman in their life.... Enjoy Mother's Day by either you are a mother or you know someone that is. From Mother of the Mother and Daughter Realty Team: GRANDMA'S HANDS This is good; I'll never look at my hands the same! Grandma, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench She didn't move, just sat with her head down staring at her hands. When I sat down beside her she didn't acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat I wondered if she was OK. Finally, not really wanting to disturb her but wanting to check on her at the same time, I asked her if she was OK. She raised her head and looked at me and smiled. "Yes, I'm fine, thank you for asking," she said in a clear strong voice. "I didn't mean to disturb you, grandma, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK," I explained to her. "Have you ever looked at your hands," she asked. "I mean really looked at your hands?" I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point she was making. Grandma smiled and related this story: "Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled, shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life. "They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots." "They held my husband and wiped my tears when he went off to war. They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent. They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son. Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special. They wrote my letters to him and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse." "They have held my children and grandchildren, consoled neighbors, and shook in fists of anger when I didn't understand." "They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken dried and raw. And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer." "These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of life. But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ." I will never look at my hands the same again. But I remember God reached out and took my grandma's hands and led her home. When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and husband I think of grandma. I know she has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God.
May 12, 2007 04:04 AM
Sharon Simms
Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International - Saint Petersburg, FL
Jeff - your new bubble was very nice this morning when I heard your Mother's Day greeting - a great example of how something small and brief can make a difference.
May 12, 2007 10:21 PM
Lucky Lang
Premiere Plus Realty Marco Island - Marco Island, FL
Marco Island & Naples Florida Real Estate
Jeff, How did you get that bubble thing in there? That is too cool! I must know your secret! Thanks, Lucky :)
May 12, 2007 10:37 PM
Jeff Turner
RealSatisfied - Santa Clarita, CA

Sharon... thank you. Yes, I think it will work best for special greetings or important announcements. Happy Mother's Day again!

Lucky... here you go: 

May 13, 2007 01:23 AM
Rick & Ines - Miami Beach Real Estate
Majestic Properties - Miami Beach, FL
I think this will be a little off topic - but I have been off for the last couple of here it goes. I used to think that women had this incredible gift of multi-tasking that no man could match (that's before I was married and had children) - once I had children I realize that God gave women this incredible gift.....yes our children....but to be able to put their lives before ours while taking care of so many things at once. Ok...maybe I'm rambling here but what I mean to say is that you wouldn't know REAL MULTI-TASKING until you are a's pretty amazing! HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY JEFF AND ROCKY (I include you, because you deserve it too).
May 13, 2007 02:27 AM
Lucky Lang
Premiere Plus Realty Marco Island - Marco Island, FL
Marco Island & Naples Florida Real Estate
Jeff, Thanks a lot! Lucky :)
May 13, 2007 07:29 AM
Julia Fedak
Platinum Home Designs - Burlington, ON

Thank you for this Mother's Day Post/info session....isn't it funny how we celebrate these designated days and we're unsure of how they began?

that JULIA was one amazing lady......must be in the name. :)...just getting cheeky


May 14, 2007 03:42 PM
Jeff Turner
RealSatisfied - Santa Clarita, CA
May 14, 2007 04:51 PM