Who was Susan B. Anthony’s sister Hannah?

Susan B. Anthony’s sister Hannah Anthony Mosher was the next younger child in Susan’s birth family of four girls and two boys. The Anthony sisters formed a powerful impetus to woman suffrage and created bonds that lasted beyond death.

After their father Daniel’s catastrophic financial losses in the panic of 1838, the older sisters went into teaching and sent money home to help the rest of the family. Guelma, the oldest sister, married first. Before Hannah’s marriage to Frank Mosher in 1845, Susan helped her make a Feathered Star quilt

Image by Jessie Ziegler

When Susan, Merritt, and Mary moved with their parents to Rochester, NY, Hannah and Guelma stayed behind with their husbands. The Rochester Anthonys moved to a farm and soon after brother Daniel Read (D.R.) Anthony moved in with them. Within a decade, both he and Merritt moved to Kansas.

Reunited in Rochester

Susan must have been delighted when the Moshers relocated with their four children to Rochester in the late 1850s, taking up residence at #19 Madison Street. Not long after, the Anthonys from the farm moved in to #17 next door to the Moshers. Eventually, Guelma and her family shared  #17.

#17 Madison Street, which was home to Susan, Mary, Guelma, and many others in the Anthony family. At the far right, you can see the porch of #19, home of Hannah and Frank Mosher. Photo by Jeanne Gehret.

As I’ve noted before, all four of Susan B. Anthony’s sisters voted with her in 1872 and were arrested for it. At the time they committed this alleged crime, Guelma was suffering from consumption (tuberculosis), which took her life in 1873. By that time, Hannah, too, was showing signs of the deadly disease.

In the second half of the 19th century, consumption was killing 1/7 of the people in Europe and the U.S. It got its name by causing its sufferers to lose a lot of body weight. It would be another two decades before Robert Koch discovered that it was contracted through bacteria.

Seeking a cure

Not wanting to lose her, D.R. and Susan prevailed on Hannah to seek her health in the west, as many Americans were doing at the time.

Hannah spent several weeks in Denver trying to get better. When she didn’t improve, she went to stay with D.R. and Annie in Leavenworth, KS. Frank and the children visited her there. Distraught, Susan canceled her speaking engagements to keep vigil by Hannah’s deathbed in 1877. Hannah was buried in Leavenworth in the Anthony plot.

Shortly afterward, Hannah’s daughter Louise went to live with Mary Anthony (and Susan) in Rochester, where she remained until she finished her schooling. Thus, the bonds among the sisters extended to Louise’s care after Hannah died. Sadly, only one of Susan B. Anthony’s sisters remained.

On the occasion of Hannah’s death, Susan’s authorized biography said,   

“Between herself [Susan] and this sister, just nineteen months younger, beautiful in character and strong in affection, there ever had existed the closest sympathy. For the last decade they had been separated only by a dooryard, they had shared each other’s every joy and sorrow . . . .”

ida husted harper, life and work of Susan b. anthony, vol 1, p. 488

The Anthony influence also endured in Hannah’s three sons who, following their Uncle D.R.’s example, worked in the insurance business for the rest of their lives.

Nov. 26, 1862 Death of Susan B. Anthony’s father

One day in early November 1862, Susan B. Anthony and her father Daniel were reading and discussing antislavery newspapers when he suddenly began suffering acute pain in Continue reading

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.

Posse Hunts John Brown

Why was D.R. Anthony so fiercely abolitionist? Events such as the following would have fueled his anger. Today’s post gives us a typical example of how proslavery forces treated John Brown, an antislavery man whom  Anthony revered and probably knew. (D.R.’s brother Merritt had fought with Brown several years earlier in southern Kansas.)

Living only 25 miles away from the following tense encounter between a proslavery posse and  Brown, Anthony might  have stood with the guards who protected the famous hero. Even if Anthony didn’t, he certainly would have followed the news with as much anxiety as did New Hampshire  emigrant Julia Louisa Lovejoy, whose letter back east gives us this riveting account.

For the death of John Brown, the Missouri governor and others offered $5,500. Lured by this “bait,” Lovejoy reported, a pro-slavery posse headed by Marshal J.P. Wood  tracked “our champion” (Brown) to a cabin where the abolitionist holed up with a dozen African-Americans.

This cabin he had strongly barricaded, and told his pursuers “he would never yield, neither would he be taken alive.” The Marshal and his force surrounded the cabin and ordered Brown to “surrender!” Brown replied, “Come and take me.” The officer dared not undertake the job, and one hundred more like him could not capture those indomitable spirits that well knew what would follow if they were taken prisoners.1

A stand-off occurred. Brown’s group, armed with Sharpes rifles, was guarded by a company of twenty-five antislavery supporters. Giving voice to the bodyguard, Lovejoy wrote, “Take care, sir, if one gray hair on that venerable head is singed, your whole party will be riddled with balls!”

The Marshal’s posse sent for reinforcements to Atchison (about four miles away) and rumored that two cannons would soon arrive to explode the cabin. In an oddly turned phrase, Lovejoy wrote that United States Army troops who engaged in “pretended pursuit” seem to have sufficiently distracted the posse, during which time:

Brown sallied forth and took three of the Atchison men prisoners (one of them, it is affirmed, he recognized as the miscreant who shot his own son, F. Brown, at the “Ossawottamie battle.”) He also took four of their horses that they had secreted in the timber, and then with his freed slaves and party pulled for Iowa, taking prisoners and horses along with him!

Thus Brown escaped from Kansas in February 1859, just eight months before his fateful raid on the arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, WV. In a summary of this western event, Lovejoy correctly predicted the manner of Brown’s death, saying, “We fear now that Brown and his party will be intercepted by an overwhelming force, but he cannot be captured alive.” “

Photo courtesy of Kansas Historical Society

  1. Bell, Sarah. “Lovejoy, Julia Louisa” Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict, 1854-1865. The Kansas City Public Library. Accessed Mar, 31, 2017 at http://www.civilwaronthewesternborder.org/encyclopedia/lovejoy-julia-louisa

 

 

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.

Susan B. Anthony at Mt. Hope Cemetery

SBA graveThousands experienced the beauty and peace of Mt. Hope Cemetery yesterday when they gathered at the grave of Susan B. Anthony in a fitting tribute to one of America’s greatest women. Rochester officials estimate the crowd at 10,000 visitors. Continue reading

The Jury’s Still Out on John Brown

John Brown, abolitionist. Used with permission from the Kansas History Project

John Brown, abolitionist. Used with permission from the Kansas History Project

It’s one thing to admire someone and quite another to like him or her. This reality slapped me in the face when I visited the homestead of John Brown near Lake Placid, New York.

Continue reading

Daring Friends of Merritt and D.R. Anthony

Here are the men who freed John Doy from a Missouri prison. Doy is seated. Used with permission from the Kansas History Project

Here are the men who freed John Doy from a Missouri prison. Doy is seated. Used with permission from the Kansas History Project

Merritt Anthony, like his brother Daniel Read Anthony (D.R.), put aside the pacifism that is often associated with Quakerism and took up arms to free the slaves. In doing so, he joined one of America’s most radical and controversial opponents of slavery.

John Brown went to Kansas in 1855 and immediately stirred things up. He not only freed many African-Americans and sent them along the Underground Railroad, but he also, at one point, stated that he had “liberated 150 cattle from slavery” in Missouri. He soon became a target of southern sympathizers, and the attacks went back and forth. His massacre of proslavery men at Potawatomie Creek in 1856 and his brave stand against southern sympathizers at Osawatomie went a long way to earning his adopted state the moniker “Bleeding Kansas.” Daniel Read Anthony also pitched into that fray, but more on that later.

Merritt Anthony first took up residence in Osawatomie, about fifty miles south of Leavenworth, where D.R. settled. In between the two cities lies the city of Lawrence, an abolitionist-built enclave which D.R. helped to found in 1854. John Brown inadvertently caused much suffering to a friend of D.R. named John Doy.

Doy was a doctor from Rochester, NY. With D.R., he was among the first easterners to arrive in Kansas with the Emigrant Aid Company. Unlike D.R., he settled in Lawrence permanently. In 1859, the citizens of Lawrence decided that it was dangerous for ex-slaves to remain in the area and began escorting them to safer places. Brown agreed to lead one group and Doy another, sharing the men who went along as bodyguards. Unfortunately, Brown decided that his group was in greater danger than Doy’s, and departed first, taking all the guards with him.

Despite the shortage of guards, John Doy and his twenty-five year-old son Charles set off with their refugees and were beset by border ruffians from Missouri. The African-Americans were sent to the slave market and the Doys were taken to stand trial after spending months in subhuman conditions in jail. Charles was freed but John was sentenced for sixty-five years and moved to a more secure prison. In a daring escape, Charles and nine other northerners from Lawrence tricked the jailer and freed Doy. These valiant rescuers became known as the “Immortal Ten.”

Unfortunately, Charles’ encounter with mortality came even sooner than his father’s. About a year after the Immortal Ten became famous for their exploits, Charles Doy died at the hands of proslavery sympathizers. Soon after that John Brown, who put this father and son at so much risk, was hanged as an abolitionist martyr.

These principled, daring men were the associates, and probably heroes, of Merritt and D.R. Anthony.