To understand the history that influenced Anna Jarvis, founder of Mother’s Day, one has to know about Taylor County, West Virginia.
Jarvis was born in the small community of Webster. Her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, gave birth to 12 children, but illnesses of the time claimed the lives of eight of those children. Mrs. Jarvis formed Mother’s Day Work Clubs at Webster, Pruntytown, Fetterman, Grafton, and Philippi, to begin addressing health and sanitation issues. Problems in these areas were blamed for many childhood deaths.
From 1859, until her death in 1905, Mrs. Jarvis was often heard saying, “I hope someone, some time, establishes a memorial Mother’s Day for mothers living and dead.”
The Jarvis family had moved from Webster to Grafton in 1864. The husband/father, Granville Jarvis, died in December 1902 and Mrs. Jarvis and her daughter, Anna, moved to Philadelphia to live with family. On May 9, 1905, Mrs.
Jarvis died. Standing at the foot of the open grave, Miss Anna said, “Mother, that prayer made in our little church at Grafton, calling for someone, somewhere, sometime to found a memorial Mother’s Day—the time and place is here and the someone is your daughter, and by the grace of God, you shall have that Mother’s Day.”
At age 41, living with her brother at Philadelphia, Miss Anna had but one objective in life, the establishment of a memorial Mother’s Day. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a resolution setting aside the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.