Henderson County, Kentucky Biography


MARY TOWLES SASSEEN, of Henderson, was the founder of Mother’s Day.  As far back as 1887 Miss Sasseen, then a school teacher, began the observation of Mother’s Day in her own school, later undertaking a campaign to have the day observed on a national scale.

While Miss Sasseen was visiting her sister, Mrs. Edwin W. (Sallie Therese Sasseen) OLDS in Springfield, Ohio, they were sucessful in having Mother’s Day observed in the Springfield public schools.  Following her campaign for national recognition of Mother’s Day, she traveled extensively and appeared before many educational bodies.

On September 28, 1904, Miss Sasseen gave up teaching, married Judge William Marshall WILSON, and left Kentucky to make her home in Freeport, Florida.  Six (actually it was two) years later she died while still endeavoring to promote a Nation-wide observance of the day.  It remained for a Philadelphia woman, Miss Anna JARVIS, to win national observance of the day.  In 1914, through the instrumentality of Miss Jarvic (Jarvis), President WILSON proclaimed Mother’s Day a legal holiday.  Congress passed a resolution designating the second Sunday in May as the date for the observance.

A Boston business man, Ernest Dudley CHASE, discovered, after long research, that the “mother” of Mother’s Day was Mary Towles Sasseen, of Henderson, Kentucky.

The Kentucky Legislature in recognition of her work, passed a resolution acclaiming her as the “originator of the idea of Mother’s Day celebration” and praised her efforts to bring to the mind of children everywhere the full admiration, respect, and love due all mothers.

In the Henderson Cemetery there stands a white marker erected by the county historical society bearing this inscription:  “Mary Towles Sasseen in 1887 founded Mother’s Day.”

Story was found on page 89 in the “Henderson, Home of Audubon”.  Henderson, Home of Audubon was compiled by the Workers of the Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Kentucky and sponsored by Susan Starling Towles, Librarian, Public Library, Henderson, KY

1850 Christian County Census, William H. Sasseen age 45, John P. age 14, William A. age 11, Sarah A. age 9, Susan B. age 7, Robert J. Martin age 20, and Mary E. Martin age unk, Robert's wife.

1860 Christian County Census, William H. Sasseen age 55, John P. age 24, Mary Towles Sasseen, wife of John P. age 20, Mary Towles Sasseen, dau of John and Mary age 5 mos, possibly son William age 23 and daughter Sarah age 21.

1870 Henderson County Census, listed as Phillip Sassun age 34, Mary T. wife age 30, Mary T. dau age 10, Sallie T. dau age 8, Nanie K. dau age 6 and Charles Sharse age 38, B, M, must have been a laborer.

1880 Henderson County Census
, Phelps Sasseen age 44 was listed with wife Mary age 41, dau Mary age 20, dau Sallie age 18, dau Nannie age 16, and son Phelps age 8


Marriages in Henderson County, Kentucky 1858 – 1900, Vol. 2

Page 112, J. P. Sasseen married Mary J. Towles 15 Dec 1858, Book 4, Pg 91.

Page 28, John L. Cross married Nannie K. Sasseen 12 May 1886, Book 19, Page 579

Page 94, Edwin M. Olds married Sallie T. Sasseen 20 Jun 1888, Book 21, Page 87

Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS

Copyright 2002 HCH&GS