Henderson County, Kentucky Personalities

Mary Towles Sasseen


Prof. J. J. GLENN, of Madisonville, Kentucky, one of the most prominent educators of the state, has written a very interesting letter to the Gleaner in reference to his personal knowledge of the origin and originator of “Mother's Day.” Prof. GLENN unequivocally says that Miss Mary Towles SASSEEN was undoubtedly the first person to become interested in the great cause. His letter follows:

Editor Gleaner:

“I have been very much interested in reading an article in this morning's Gleaner the title of which is “How the Observance of Mother's Day Originated.” Mary Towles SASSEEN is given credit as being the originator of that day. I am prepared to fully endorse almost every statement made in the Gleaner in reference to that now sainted woman.

“It was my good fortune to be well acquainted with Miss SASSEEN at the time she began to advocate the idea of observance of some day that should be set apart and honored as “Mother's Day.' At that time I was superintendent of schools of Hopkins County, was a member of the Kentucky Educational Association, of which body I was twice the president. Miss SASSEEN was a teacher in the city schools of Henderson. She took a very active interest in educational matters, and was always present at both district and state educational meetings.

“It was perhaps twenty-five years ago that she began to agitate the question of what she was pleased to call Mother's Day.' As we were well acquainted with each other, and both being interested in educational matters, she always made very free talk to me of matters pertaining to the education of youths of the country. This was one of the subjects that always seemed to be uppermost in her mind.

“So far as I know I was the first person to whom she mentioned the subject. Just as soon as she explained what her ideas were in regard to the setting aside of a day to be called ‘Mother's Day,' I was favorably impressed with the whole thing, and at that time wrote quite a number of editorials endorsing Miss SASSEEN and her work. In fact, I became almost as enthusiastic as Miss SASSEEN.

“Up to the time Miss SASSEEN left the state and went South, we were frequently thrown together, and so far as I can now call to mind, there was not an occasion of our meeting that she did not talk more or less about ‘Mother's Day.' I know furthermore that in this connection that she almost universally talked of her mother and of the anniversary of the birth of her mother.

“I was always struck with the deep devotion she had for her mother. At that time my own mother was living and to her I was perhaps almost as much devoted as she was to her mother. There was something in the name of ‘Mother's Day' that to me was exceedingly pleasant. It was perhaps on account of the interest I took in the matter that always made her so confidential in her talks with me.

“That Miss SASSEEN was the author of ‘Mother's Day' I have no more doubt that I have that she once taught school in Henderson or that she once lived in that city. In the celebration of ‘Mother's Day' I hope that the name of the author of that beautiful custom shall have the reverence that is due one whose life is spent in noble works and noble thoughts. Her life was one she

“Could say to the mothers what a jolly charge
Is theirs – with what a kindly power their love
Might rule with fountains of the new born mind.”


Henderson Gleaner, Henderson, Kentucky
Friday, 19 April 1912


Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS
Copyright 2005, HCH&GS