Anna Osborn Anthony (usually called Annie) married thirty-nine-year-old Daniel Read Anthony when she was just nineteen. Only the basic facts and a few tantalizing glimpses remain of her.
History references her as the daughter of a whaling captain from Martha’s Vineyard and the wife of a powerful man in Kansas.
Anna Osborn Anthony: Basic Facts
Annie birthed five children, but only two survived into adulthood. She liked to sing and often helped with charitable causes. During the hot Kansas summers, she frequently vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard or Mackinac Island. When Daniel suffered an almost fatal gunshot wound at the opera, she was with him. Many years after he died, she moved to her daughter’s home in the Los Angeles area.
Annie’s sister-in-law Susan B. frequently enjoyed Annie’s hospitality in Kansas. However, even she spared Annie only a few lines in her extensive diaries and authorized biography. When Annie died, her obituary digressed into a description of her flamboyant husband Daniel.
But how, precisely, did she influence her many guests? Did she calm her husband’s notorious temper? Did Susan rely on Annie’s hospitality to fortify her as she sallied forth on campaigns for woman suffrage? When Annie entertained the governor at their home, did it enhance Daniel’s political aspirations?
We know that Merritt Anthony’s family lived nearby for a few years and named one of their daughters after Annie, suggesting that she was well-loved. Annie’s home must have been well-scrubbed by 19th-century standards because it served as a hospital for Hannah Anthony Mosher (D.R. and Susan’s sister) as she died of consumption and later for D.R. himself as he lay recovering from his gunshot wound.
What attracted D.R. to Annie, and vice versa?
They were, after all, a generation apart in age. And they had a large cultural divide. She was as much an easterner as anyone could be, while he had deliberately fashioned himself as a Wild West character. Furthermore, she was an heiress and he a self-made man rising from the middle class.
Maybe, as many have suggested, he wanted her money. However, I prefer to think that he saw a young woman who would share his interest in adventure. Perhaps, in return, she leaped at the chance to experience a wider world.
We will probably never know. But as I wrote The Truth About Daniel, I sure had fun weaving her basic facts into historical fiction.
first posted on Sept 2, 2014