Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Anna Jarvis Museum, Webster, Taylor County, West Virginia

This was one of our surprise finds during the Morgantown, West Virginia trip last week. Following Garmin down to Tygart Lake, south of Grafton, West Virginia, we happened upon the charming Anna Marie Jarvis childhood historical home in Webster, Taylor County. On this trip we stopped only to photograph the sign and house, but returned for an actual visit inside two days later.

Anna Marie was the daughter of Granville E. and Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis. The house was built in 1854 and was occupied by the family for the next eleven years. Granville built and ran a mercantile across the street from the house and following the Civil War moved his family and operation into the town of Grafton.

Mrs. Ann Maria Jarvis, mother of Anna Marie, lost eight of her eleven children before they reached the age of seven due to poor health conditions in the area during the 1850's. She organized "Mother's Friendship Clubs" and with the help of her brother, Dr. James E. Reeves, taught thousands of women nursing and proper sanitation which improved the health of those living in this rural county.

Troops outside the Jarvis Home during the Civil War

During the Civil War this noble woman, through her Mother's Friendship Clubs, nursed and cared for soldiers on both sides of the conflict and then, following the end of the war, called upon her club members to help mend the wounds of the war by reuniting families who fought on opposing sides.

Anna Marie Jarvis was a personal friend of President Woodrow Wilson and through him, on May 8, 1914, was able to have the second Sunday in May declared an international Mother's Day in honor of her own mother's wish that there be a day set aside to honor all mothers.

As Mother's Day became increasingly more commercial, Anna Jarvis fought against the commercialization, spending the money from her parent's estate, dying in poverty in a mental institution.

Both Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis and Anna Marie Jarvis are buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Also in the same cemetery are Elsinore L. Jarvis and Claude S. Jarvis, two of Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis' adult children.

I found the Jarvis house to be spacious for the time period it was built. The childrens rooms upstairs were divided by age groups, with several children sharing the space. The master bedroom was comfortable. Downstairs there is a living and dining area separate from the kitchen.
Whistle Porch with summer kitchen on the right

Whistle Porch with main house kitchen to the left

My "how cool is this" moment was the porch called the "whistle porch" that connects to a summer kitchen. Servants had to whistle while carrying the food between the summer kitchen and the house kitchen to prove that they were not walking while eating the owners food.

The current owners, who also manage the museum, have been able to locate many original family items, which are displayed throughout. Of interest is the large quanity of Anna Marie Jarvis' personal possessions--letters, clothing, original photographs found in one bedroom on the second floor.

Official Site of the Anna Jarvis House Museum. A few inside photos of the rooms.

1908-2008 Mother’s Day Centennial. History of Ann Maria Jarvis and her work to make Mother's Day a holiday.

Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis biography.

© 2010, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating history. I had never heard of a whistle porch, but the idea of a summer kitchen has always appealed to me.
    Anne Jarvis sounds like she was an awesome lady.
    Thanks for the history.