The first Mother's Day was celebrated in 1908 when Ann Jarvis organized the celebration to honor her mother's death and the "sacrifices mothers made for their children." It didn't become an official U.S. holiday until 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson officially signed a proclamation declaring "the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day 'as a public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of our country.'"
In honor of Mother's Day, I decided to search my family tree for all the women who might have been alive to celebrate that first official Mother's Day. There were 10 mothers between the ages of 18 and 80 in my family tree who were alive in 1914, four of whom were grandmothers as well.
Only four of those 10 mothers were in my ancestral line, and only one of them was a grandmother. My great-great-grandmother, Emily (Outhouse) Lamb, would have been a 74-year-old widow. She had four children who survived to adulthood to give her 13 grandchildren. She likely would have celebrated Mother's Day with her only daughter, my great-grandmother, Nettie (Lamb) Baisley, who gave birth to 7 of those grandchildren and would have been pregnant with her eighth child at age 41.
My great-grandmother, Anna (Kolb) Passtoor, was a German immigrant and would have been a widow at 41-years old. It was probably a bittersweet holiday for her since only two of her four children survived childhood. It would have been the only Mother's Day she would have celebrated; Anna died seven months later.
My great-grandmother, Stanislawa (Makowska) Chrzanowski, a Polish immigrant, would have been 26 years old and six months pregnant with her third child on that first Mother's Day.
So, on this 100th anniversary of Mother's Day, I honor those women of my past for the sacrifices they made for their children.
History.com staff. "Mother's Day," online article, History.com, (http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mothers-day : 10 May 2014), First Mother's Day.
President Woodrow Wilson's Mother's Day Proclamation of May 9, 1914 (Presidential Proclamation 1268)., 9 May 1914; General Records of the United States Goverment, 1778-1992, Record Group 11; [Online version, www.archives.gov/historical-docs/todays-doc/?dod-date=509, National Archives and Records Administration, 10 May 2014.]
ArLynn Leiber Presser, "The Pre-forgotten Mother's Day," Arlynnpresser, 16 Apr 2012 (arlynnpresser.com/tag/mothers : accessed 10 May 2014).
Christopher Fox Graham, "May 11 Marks the 100th Anniversay of Mother's Day," Journalaz.com, 7 May 2014 (www.journalaz.co/Opinion/may-11-marks-the-100th-anniversary-of-mothers-day.html : accessed 10 May 2014).