Close-Up on Anthony Family

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HeaDSCN0933ring about Susan’s westward-bound brothers, I began to wonder about their similarity to their famous sister. Who among their parents’ dinner guests inspired Susan, Daniel and Merritt to become such active proponents of reform? Why did the brothers move west, and what role did they take in forging Kansas’ self-identity?  How did Susan react when their militant methods to advance racial equality departed from their Quaker upbringing?

Once the Civil War settled the question of slavery, Merritt faded into relative obscurity. D.R., however, continued to muscle his way into a prominent role in Leavenworth, Kansas, where he settled with his bride Anna from Martha’s Vineyard.

Omigosh—a new family member. More questions arose: How did an islander survive on the prairie? What possessed Anna to marry a man twenty years her senior? How did her childhood in Massachusetts compare to her new role as a leading lady of Leavenworth? So many exciting ideas to explore and new places to visit!

The other Anthony sisters kept a relatively low profile, though Susan mentioned them frequently in her diaries. All three of them voted with SBA in 1872: Guelma, Hannah, and Mary. At one time or another, all of them lived on Madison Street in Rochester, New York, which Susan also called home.

Though the Anthonys were opinion-makers, they were highly-influenced by Quakerism and reforms that swept the northeast, as well by as the customs and inventions that hindered or helped them. I’m working on a historical novel that includes Susan but delves more deeply into the western Anthony families. The research has been fascinating but I doubt that even the most devoted novel reader would want the story to be bogged down by all the tidbits I’ve learned and places I’ve visited. Instead, this blog will serve as a parking space for some of those details so I can get on with writing action, dialogue, characters, and a true story so compelling you’d swear I made it up. Join me as I explore them in the context of American history from 1820 to 1950, commencing on the east coast and ending on the west.

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