Jenny Lind & Father's Day

Down this road the Mother of Father's Day
was born.

The first official Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, Washington, but a tiny, almost forgotten little town in Arkansas had a hand in this holiday. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, known as the “Mother of Father’s Day” was born in Jenny Lind on February 18, 1882, to a Civil War veteran and his wife, the daughter of a farmer. When she was 5 years old, the family moved to Spokane where Sonora resided until her death in 1978.

Not many houses remain in Jenny Lind today and 
of those remaining, many look like this one.
After her mother’s early death in 1898, 16-year-old Sonora helped her father raise her 6 younger brothers. She began petitioning to make Father’s Day a nationally recognized holiday in 1909. After listening to a church sermon about Mother’s Day, she suggested to the YMCA and Spokane Ministerial Association the establishment of an equal holiday to honor fathers. Thirteen days later, on June 19, 1910, the first Father’s Day was celebrated in Spokane.

The old Jenny Lind school.
For over 20 years the holiday evoked mixed emotions. Congress refused President Woodrow Wilson’s desire to make the holiday official for fear it would become too commercialized. The holiday was not recognized as an annually observed holiday until 1971 when President Richard Nixon officially designated Father’s Day as the 3rdSunday of every June.