Why do young women fall for older men?

You don’t hear much about May-December romances these days. But history is full couples made of young women with older men, especially in centuries when so many women died in childbirth.

That was the case in the family of Anna Osborn. Her father was twice a widower, and his third wife (Annie’s stepmother) was 13 years younger than he. Each wife bore him several children, bringing the total number of Osborn offspring to eleven.

Varying Explanations for Women’s Choices

According to an article in The Guardian, women are genetically programmed to recognize a man with genes strong enough to be attractive and display wealth at an advanced age. According to this theory, evolution favors a strong older man over a younger one.

Or is it more than that? Perhaps it is because older men have more sophisticated tastes, seem more sure of themselves, and are looking for serious relationships, as this more recent article suggests.

In the chapters of The Truth About Daniel concerning  Annie Osborn’s courtship, she evades the clumsy pursuits of Richie, a man her age. Richie doesn’t know enough to douse his cigar in a lady’s presence and still appears boyishly lanky. He dances badly, works for his father, and has done nothing heroic. How can he measure up to Daniel Read Anthony with his war-hardened physique, strong profile, and willingness to save people in a burning building?

When Annie learns that Daniel has also committed himself to the same risky undertaking as she, she falls in love with a man twenty years older her senior. She senses Daniel’s value to society in contrast to Richie’s lightweight existence.

Neither can Richie match Daniel’s experience as a mayor and postmaster. He lacks Daniel’s acquaintance with influential people, notably his sister Susan B. Anthony and her cohort—people that Annie has only read about before.

Unlike Richie and Annie, who have lived their entire lives on an island, Daniel has traveled halfway across the continent. Perhaps the best thing of all is that he’s willing and able to take Annie there.

Happily Ever After

No novice at the game of courtship, Daniel keeps his wealth to himself until after he is engaged to Annie. As mayor, he may have known too many women who wanted to marry a man for his money. Fortunately, Annie reacts with pleasant surprise, showing that not all young women are looking for sugar daddies.

 

 

Male Counterpart of Susan B. Anthony?


How similar was Susan B. Anthony to her brother Daniel? Why should serious students of our famous suffragist take note of him?

Despite the times Daniel went on trial for murder during a street fight, suffered court-martial, and was accused on horse-stealing, Susan admired her oldest brother D.R.. According to her authorized biography by Harper, (p. 1339),

She had the most profound admiration for his commanding intellect, his business ability, his courage, aggressiveness and determination, and a strong pride in his achievements and the place he had made for himself in the history of his adopted State. But far deeper than this was her love for him because of his long years of devotion to her . . . . She felt that always and under all circumstances she could depend on him for whatever she needed….

Did she always feel that way? When I consider that she she made this comment about him late in life, I have to wonder. There were surely moments when she agonized at the scrapes he got into during his younger years. (For example, there was no way to excuse his horse thefts.) Remember that Harper wrote this shortly after D.R.’s death at the age of 80. By then, Susan had the accumulated wisdom and tolerance of hindsight.

Two Apples From the Same Family Tree

Susan’s affection and respect for her brother Daniel Read Anthony demonstrates why he deserves more than a nod from people with a serious interest in the famous suffragist. Yes, they had many differences. He was male, she female. He married, while she remained single. He made his home in Leavenworth, KS while she made hers in Rochester, NY. He had a terrible temper while she could be quite diplomatic. Nevertheless, reflecting Susan’s generous viewpoint in old age, Harper sweeps away all these contrasts with this comparison of the two siblings:

He was much more like her than was any other member of the family and their similarity of characteristics had long been a matter of public comment. (ibid)

 

Taking Harper at face value, she implied the following: if you want to know a male counterpart of Susan B. Anthony, look to Daniel Read Anthony.

Some readers will be aghast at this comparison. Comments?

 

The Anthonys’ Quaker Roots

Jeanne Gehret in winter coat in open doorway of wood building
Jeanne Gehret entering Quaker Meetinghouse in Adams, MA

Susan B. Anthony’s Quaker roots came to the forefront when I spoke at Susan’s birthplace museum in Adams, MA, near the border of New York State.

After my talk, my friend and I received a private tour by Adams Historical Society president Eugene Michalenko of the East Hoosuk Quaker Meetinghouse not far from Susan’s home. That is where Susan’s Aunt Hannah Hoxie (her father’s sister) sat on the “high seat” sharing spiritual insights during meetings. Hannah was regarded by the congregation as a gifted speaker in an era when women outside of Quakerism rarely spoke in public.

Susan B. Anthony’s Quaker role model

The high seat turned out to be on the top row of pews facing the congregation, nearest the center. Aunt Hannah’s central position connotes some importance. Measuring about 45×45 feet, the building features separate doors for men and women, who held their own meetings and kept separate records.

weathered two-story building with two doors side by side
Quaker Meeting House, Adams. Photo by Jeanne Gehret

Once inside, a movable partial wall divides the two sides, with women and children sitting on the side with a huge open fireplace. (How kind those Quaker gentlemen were!) The dividing wall was removed during worship; thus, Hannah could be seen (and heard) by both men and women.

Susan’s sister Hannah was named after Aunt Hannah.

The Meetinghouse website includes more photos and describes many tenets of Quaker beliefs, including their opposition to war. With these principles in mind, Susan’s father Daniel developed a unique way to pay his taxes. Each year, he held out his wallet when greeting the taxman. Then Daniel said he did not support a government that waged war and that the collector must extract money from the wallet himself.

Later, Susan’s brother D.R. Anthony ran afoul of Quaker pacificism when he killed a rival publisher in a streetfight in Leavenworth. Although he had left the Rochester where his family prayed, he was still a member of the Rochester meeting. Not long after the fight, Rochester Quakers wrote to question his adherence to the beliefs of his ancestors. Read more about that conflict in my novel The Truth About Daniel, published in January.

Author Talk on Susan B. Anthony’s Kin

“All For Suffrage: Susan B. Anthony’s Kin” will be Jeanne Gehret’s topic in an evening presentation at the Penfield (N.Y.) Public Library this coming Thursday, April 27, from 7-8:30. Admission is free.

Miss Anthony’s devotion to woman suffrage is well-known. Lesser-known is how she also campaigned for black suffrage–and how her entire family supported her in both efforts.

Come discover how the members of Susan’s family thought for themselves and stood up for their beliefs–even when they risked public disapproval, arrest, the ruin of career, or death.

Copies of The Truth About Daniel, the first in the Dauntless Series about this amazing family, will be available for sale and author signing. This talk commemorates the 100th anniversary of woman suffrage in New York State.

The Anthonys on President Lincoln

On April 14, 1865 President Lincoln suffered a fatal gunshot wound from John Wilkes Booth. The news of his death reached D.R. Anthony, his wife Annie, and his sister Susan where she was visiting them in Leavenworth.

In her diary, Susan recorded that they attended different churches to hear the ministers’ pulpit commentary on the assassination. It’s likely that they felt the same kind of shock and dismay that mark our era’s reception of the news about President Kennedy’s assassination or the fall of the Twin Towers.

D.R. must have felt a special regret because he had known Lincoln personally and later taken a special interest in his safety. Lincoln spoke in Leavenworth during his presidential campaign trail in December 1859, and that night traded stories with Anthony and other friends, propping their feet up and feeding the fire as they swapped stories.

Two years later, after Anthony had fiercely defended Kansas against proslavery forces, he was invited to guard President Lincoln in the White House at the start of the Civil War. The city of Washington was isolated, surrounded by Confederate troops, and rumors spread that Lincoln would be abducted. Thanks for a shrewd intimidation campaign by Lincoln’s guards, rebel troops thought there were far more of “those damned Kansans,” many of whom had shocked the nation by fighting alongside the notorious John Brown. You can read more about this threat to Lincoln on my 3/16/16 post, “Saving Lincoln from Abduction.”

Ironically, Booth had performed in Leavenworth on the same stage where Lincoln had admonished Kansans not to resort to violence but to solve matters by voting.

 

 

 

The Anthonys in Rochester

I have blogged extensively about the Anthony family in Kansas and Martha’s Vineyard because those two areas were the focus of my first book in “The Dauntless Series.” In the process, I’ve slighted one of the most obvious places anyone should mention when discussing the Anthony family: Rochester, NY, where all of Susan’s nuclear family lived at various times between 1848 and 1907.

So here’s my commitment: I will include the Rochester connection on a regular basis from now on. Not only am I currently researching Rochester sites and people that the Anthonys knew, but I have also created a program entitled “All for Suffrage: the Kin of Susan B. Anthony” where I will share my findings in person with a Powerpoint program. Several libraries have already booked this presentation, in addition to costumed appearances, to celebrate New York State’s centennial of woman suffrage.

If you want to share some Rochester historical tidbits or old photos, please scroll down to the bottom of this page and use the comment box.

I am excited that tomorrow I will be getting a private tour of the Talman Building on Rochester’s Main Street. It was the home of Frederick Douglass’s newspaper The North Star and also a site on the Underground Railroad. Watch for upcoming entries and photos from that visit!

About the photo on today’s post: I never stop puzzling over it. It was taken on the Anthony farm near Rochester, and none of the people in it are identified. Do you find their poses as curious as I do? I like to think that the man on the extreme right is Daniel Read, but have no way of knowing other than that he seems to be copping an attitude!

This is the home where both Daniels–Susan’s father and brother–lived, as well as Merritt. None of the men in the family ever lived on Madison Street, where the famous Susan B. Anthony House stands today. Two chapters of my book take place in this farm home.

Gallop Across the Dance Floor, Anyone?

 

 

This is a wonderful video of a 19th century dance. Read more about it below.

I first learned about a dance called the gallopade (or “gallop”) at a concert given by pianist Jacqueline Schwab, whose piano music was featured on Ken Burns’ documentary of the Civil War. Intrigued to see how it was done, I tracked down this video.

The gallopade, a very energetic dance, takes place at a ball in The Truth About Daniel. In this contemporary video, you can hear the laughter that naturally arises from this kind of happy exertion. Notice also that most of the dancers are young! When preparing to dance the gallop, Daniel Anthony, who is 40, searches the room for a young and fit partner.

Notice women dancing with women—this was often done when there were not enough men, which could certainly have been the case on Annie’s island during the Civil War, when many young men were serving on battlefields. In fact, just before a dance recital, Annie asks her best friend to save her a dance so she will not have to partner with a predatory man named Richie.

In this contemporary video, the style of gowns is appropriate to the mid-19th century when Daniel and Annie fell in love. You can see the outline of hoops beneath many of the full skirts, which bob along as the women move energetically across the floor.

Despite the fact that these dancers learned the nine movements of this dance that same day, they make it look effortless, don’t they?

Big Money from Horses

This is a copy of a portion of a large lithograph made by D.R. Anthony in 1888 of his prosperous stock farm in Huron, KS. In the upper left, note the train, which enabled him to get his horses and cattle to market. Subsequent generations of Daniel Read Anthonys continued to enjoy this farm and also recreational property in the vicinity of Martha’s Vineyard, MA where Anna Osborn Anthony was born and raised.

Image courtesy of the Leavenworth County Historical Society.

Today we continue with our guest post about Anthony’s farm, as follows:

In 1893, an apple orchard of 5000 trees grew on 80 acres of the ranch and a herd of thoroughbred Holstein cattle provided product for the Anthony’s “Huron Creamery”.   Both a school and the Presbyterian Church were constructed on Anthony’s land.  In 1883, Col. Anthony donated a new organ for the church as well.  DR Anthony Jr. had a cabin here where he could come to relax and hunt quail and pheasant.  Ball games and corn plowing contests, fires and a tornado are part of the history of the farm.   The tornado of 1891 caused $3000 in damage.

By 1910 there were 300 residents in the town of Huron, which included a bank, schools,  several general stores, a blacksmith shop, lumber yard, grocery store, hotel, drug store, hardware and implement house.

The Anthonys hired managers for the ranch over the years with the Starnes family providing the longest service, totaling 75 years over 3 generations.  D.R. Anthony III rented out the farm in 1962 and the Anthony family management  of 105 years came to an end.  In 1963, the main barn, long known as a local landmark, burned to the ground while D.R. III was spending the summer in Edgartown, Massachusetts on Martha’s Vineyard.  A 1959 aerial view showed the barn as the centerpiece of the farm.

In 1973, the Anthony property was sold.  The Huron post office closed in May, 1992 and the once thriving town seems but a mere dot on the vast Kansas prairie today. The current population of about 50 can be found among long-ago closed  or abandoned businesses and schools, many of which harken back to better days.  Little is recognizable on the expansive ranch west of town and many do not now know the Anthony name, so prominent many years ago.

Guest post by Mary Ann Sachse Brown of the Leavenworth County Historical Society

Rustling Horses in Huron, KS

D.R. Anthony had many financial irons in the fire–early investment in Kansas land, political appointments, the insurance business, and a newspaper business that became a family dynasty. But more than once he was accused of horse stealing, and he openly told family that he had “liberated” steeds during his jayhawker raids on Missouri.

This guest post discusses his large stock farm that adjoined lands owned by his sisters Mary and Susan.

The Anthony Stock Farm in Huron, Kansas

For many years The D.R. Anthony family owned the property known as the Anthony Stock Farm or Ranch west of Huron, Kansas, north of Leavenworth County, in neighboring Atchison County. Originally, the property was part of a land grant from U.S. President James Buchanan to Col. Daniel R. Anthony, who purchased it at a sale of the Delaware Indian lands in Osawki, Kansas, in May 1856.  He paid $1.75 per acre and agreed, as did other buyers, to improve the land, build a house and live there a certain number of days each month.  Col. Anthony bought four quarters for himself and one quarter each for his sisters, Susan B. Anthony and Mary S. Anthony.  Years later, the Anthony family noted that all three built cabins and resided on their farms the required amount of time.

Col. Anthony donated part of his land for the town of Huron (named after the Huron tribe of Indians), platted in April 1882 and later deeded 20 acres to the railroad, which made Huron an important shipping and supply community.

Initially operated as a livestock farm, horses and cattle were kept on the ranch.  The Anthonys came often to ride the horses, first by horse and buggy and later on the train from Leavenworth.  The property was also utilized by the Cavalry from Fort Leavenworth, on their way to Fort Crook, Nebraska.

In 1888, Col. Anthony had a lithograph of his magnificent farm distributed to Kansas newspapers.   One commented that the bird’s eye view of the ranch showed “that the colonel knows how to lay out and improve a farm –and make it pay, too—as well as conduct a first class newspaper.  If ‘Farmer’ Anthony gets the nomination for the governorship, he will be enthusiastically supported by his fellow farmers.”  DR’s desire to become Governor of Kansas was never realized.

(The lithograph will appear in the next post along with part two of this article.)

This post courtesy of Mary Ann Sachse Brown