The Truth About, “Father’s Day!”
• Father’s Day doesn’t have the importance in the United States as it does to Mother’s Day, but consumer expenditure is over 1 billion dollars per holiday.
• Some retailers suggest the idea of Men needing less affection has always been why Father’s Day dragged behind Mother’s Day.
• Today Father’s Day in the United States is mostly celebrated with a family cook-out, a small gift for a grill, yard, or household tool.
• The start of Father’s Day dates back to 1907.
• On Friday, December 6th, 1907, 365 men registered to work in the Number 6 & 8 mines of the Fairmont Coal Company in Monongah, West Virginia. There were no labor laws or mining unions at the time; so many miners would let their children, some at age eight, work in the mines with them and other family members to reach quota. Over 500 people are estimated to have died in the morning explosion that rocked the town of Monongah at 10:28 AM. Only four people made it out alive but died later due to injuries. The blast was so intense; it collapsed the mines, blew out the ventilation systems, and shook buildings in the town of Fairmont 8 miles away.
• Mrs. Grace Golden Clayton, who recently lost her Father, was empathetic to the now 250 widows and over 1,000 children left grieving over the loss of their Fathers and Husbands. Mrs. Clayton suggested a Father’s Observation Day be observed on the closest Sunday of her Father’s Birthday, which was July 5th, 1908.
• The Williams Memorial Episcopal Church held the First Father’s Day Observation, in Fairmont, West Virginia, on July 5th, 1908, where Mrs. Clayton’s Father was Reverend.
• Over the years, other Towns and States took credit for Father’s Day as Fairmont or the State of West Virginia showed no interest in signing Father’s Day as a holiday into law.
• Sonora Smart Dodd, raised by a widowed Father, wanted a day to celebrate her Father and the excellent job he did raising their family on his own.
• Sonora spread the word around Spokane, Washington, and was able to get support and backing for a statewide Father’s Day Celebration.
• Washington State celebrated the Nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on June 19th, 1910.
• President Lyndon B. Johnson designated the third Sunday of June Father’s Day in 1966.
• It wasn’t until April 24th, 1972, when President Richard Nixon signed Father’s Day into Law, almost 58 years after the creation of Mother’s Day.
• Fairmont doesn’t claim to have popularized or established Father’s Day, but it does recognize that they held the first in the United States.
• The original church, “Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South,” was torn down and replaced with a new church in 1922.
• The “Billingslea Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South” has now been renamed “Central United Methodist Church.”
• A plaque placed on the church in 1984, recognizes the First Father’s Observation Day, “FIRST FATHER’S DAY SERVICE – WILLIAMS MEMORIAL METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, SOUTH – July 5th, 1908 – IN MEMORY OF WARD M. DOWNS.”
• The West Virginia Department of Archives and History placed a historical marker along the roadway in 1985. “FIRST FATHER’S DAY SERVICE – Site of Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal church, now Central United Methodist, where Father’s Day was first observed on July 5th, 1908. rev. Webb conducted service upon request of Mrs. Charles Clayton, daughter of Meth. Minister Fletcher Golden, just two months after first Mother’s Day observance at Grafton. National recognition of Father’s day achieved in 1972 by congressional resolution.”
On this special holiday, honor your Father with a visit. May it be grilling out, teaching your children a lesson your Father taught you, or just keeping his family traditions alive. If your Father has moved on, visit his grave, teach your children about him, share in his memory. On this special day, just think of and remember him. Love and miss you, Dad.
Explore, Learn, and Grow!
Monongah, WV: Mine Disaster Memorial
Fairmont, WV: First Father’s Observation Day
Spokan, WA: Mother of Father’s Day
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