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Remembering Along Old Greenwood Road

William Jackson Smart, the father of Sonora Louise Smart, was responsible for the observance of Father’s Day in our country. He was born in 1842. He is listed in the 1860 census as living in Marion township, post office, Long Prairie. His daughter, Sonora, one of six children, was born in Jenny Lind and lived there until she was twelve years old, when the family moved to Washington. Her mother died soon after and it was her father’s devotion to his children after their mother’s death that first caused her to think of a special day to honor all fathers and in 1909, she mentioned this to her minister, Dr. Henry Rasmus, of the Spokane Central Methodist Church. The following spring, she presented a petition to the Spokane Ministerial Society with the request they preach sermons on fatherhood one Sunday in June, her father’s birth month. As a result of this, the mayor issued a Father’s Day proclamation and soon after, Governor M. E. Hay proclaimed the third Sunday in June Father’s Day in Washington. The first official Father’s Day observance was on June 19, 1910 when Sonora attended church with her father and heard the Reverend Conrad Bluhm’s sermon, “The Knighthood that never Retreats,” at the Centenary Presbyterian Church in Spokane, Wash. William lived to see nine Father’s Day observances.

In 1936, the National Father’s Day committee was founded in New York to spread the sentimental and spiritual observance of the day throughout America, and it soon became a national holiday.

Originally Published in the Greenwood Democrat by Lilly Wingfield, “Along Old Greenwood Road”, June 20, 1965.

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