Rotary hears about new book

ELKINS – L. Wayne Sheets has penned a new book that details the life and history of Mother’s Day, founded by Anna Jarvis. Sheets shared details of his book Monday at the Elkins Rotary meeting.

“The real reason for this book was to write a chronological history of how Mother’s Day came about,” Sheets said. “It actually started in Culpeper County Virginia in 1844. Anne Maria Reeves Jarvis’ father was a minister and he moved his family to Philippi, Va. In 1850, she married Granville Jarvis and moved to Webster.”

He said while in Webster, Anne began to wonder about the mortality rate of children. He said a large percentage of children died before they were 6 years old, and the water supply came under scrutiny. Sheets said they boiled water and became more conscious of personal hygiene, which helped reduce the mortality rate.

“During the Civil War, Grafton was a huge railroad hub, and soldiers were dying for the same reasons,” Sheets said. “She was contacted by officials and helped with the condition. She could help each side.”

Sheets said when he studied about historical women of West Virginia at West Virginia University, there was no mention of Anna Jarvis, nor her mother.

“I started thinking that was quite a void to leave Anna Jarvis out of history,” Sheets said.

Sheets said most of the books he could find about the history of Mother’s Day only talked about church meetings and building. “With the help of some advice from professors from WVU, we worked to come up with information about the founding of Mother’s Day,” Sheets said.

Sheets said research became confusing because during their lives, Anne Maria Reeves Jarvis, who had the original idea of starting a Mother’s Day, and then her daughter Anna Jarvis, often were confused in writing. “One historian would spell their names one way, and another would spell them different. It was hard to keep them apart.”

Sheets recommends that those traveling stop by the Anna Jarvis Birthplace in Webster. “It’s nice to go to a place where an international celebrity was born and raised.”

“Mother’s Day – The Legacy of Anna Jarvis,” is available on and is available locally at Main Line Books in Elkins. The book was published by McClain Printing Company.

Sheets writing career began with his first published manuscript titled, “The Pickens Leper,” which was published in Goldenseal, Fall 1997. In addition to other articles in Goldenseal Magazine, Sheets has been published in Wonderful West Virginia Magazine, Wheels of Time and Thunder Roads West Virginia.