Letter of Susan B. Anthony, Discovered and Sold by Raab, Leads to the Fulfillment of Her Final Wish

The below review was originally posted here.

Susan B. Anthony’s final wish granted – 116 years later

Her brother will be memorialized in Battenville Cemetery

BATTENVILLE — Everyone knows Susan B. Anthony’s life work was passage — after her death — of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.

But the leader of the women’s suffrage movement had another wish, far less grand, but cherished nonetheless. Before she died in 1906, she wanted to engrave her brother Daniel’s name on her grandfather and father’s monument in the Battenville Cemetery.

She spoke of the hope in a December 1905 letter to a family friend who still lived in the Washington County hamlet where she and Daniel Read Anthony, whom she called DR, grew up.

“Now if I live until spring, I mean to go back there and see that it is inscribed on the other side of the stone,” she wrote from Rochester to the Rev. J.D. Walsh in Battenville. “I want my brother’s name perpetuated as well as my grandfather’s and father’s.”

Three months later, she died. And along with her body, her intention was buried too.

Yet 116 years later, thanks to the Willard Mountain Daughters of the American Revolution, Anthony’s hope will be realized. The group raised the $600 for a bronze plaque that will stand next to the monument, which Daniel purchased for his grandfather, a Revolutionary War veteran. Set to be publicly unveiled at 2 p.m. on Oct. 24, it will read exactly, as indicated in the letter, how Anthony wanted.

“Memorial Erected by D.R. Anthony Born in Adams, Massachusetts August 22, 1824 Died in Leavenworth, Kansas November 12, 1904”

“It’s a small thing,” said Debi Craig, a historian and chaplain of the Willard Mountain DAR. “To me, all the hard work she did all her life. She accomplished so much. This was a little thing we could do to honor her brother. It would make her really happy, even 116 years later.”

Craig, past president of the Washington County Historical Society, discovered the letter articulating Anthony’s desire last winter while doing online research. She said the letter popped up as an item recently sold by the Raab Collection, a historic documents auction house. And it was a revelation.

“The descendants held onto it and never shared it with anybody,” Craig said of the letter. “She answered so many questions I had about Battenville, all these years, in her own words.”

In addition to her last wish for her brother, Craig said the letter mentioned who lived in the family home, now owned by the state, after her family left. Anthony wrote about a brick factory and a blacksmith shop in Battenville that Craig didn’t know were there. Anthony also recalled different features of the house, including the pillars and the piazza, which her father built. The is now being restored by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

She also spoke about her love for the area.

“The picturesqueness of the Batten Kill River and all its surroundings never struck me so forcefully as last spring when I was riding up from Union Village (now Greenwich) to Battenville,” Anthony wrote. “It is a beautiful river. I am glad you look back upon the scenery about that place and love it as I do.”

Daniel Read Anthony had an interesting life of his own, Craig said. Four years younger than Anthony, he was the mayor, newspaper publisher and postmaster in Leavenworth, Kan., and, she said, he was rumored to have hidden abolitionist John Brown while he was fighting to make Kansas a slavery-free state.

“He was quite the character,” Craig said of D.R. “The thing that amazes me is how did these guys know each other when there was no Internet, no telephone? They just knew.”

Of course, his elder sister traveled the country speaking out for women’s suffrage and other causes like abolition and labor rights. Sadly, as with her wish for the monument, she died before women were granted the right to vote in 1920.

“She accomplished a lot but I don’t think she had a particularly happy life,” Craig said. “I think she would be surprised that someone is doing this for her and her brother. It doesn’t matter what he did. He was still her brother. They grew up together. She loved him and wanted him to have the recognition for placing the monument. This is the little thing we can do for her considering how much she did for women.”

More From the Newswire

Join Us

Stay informed about new historical documents, historical discoveries, and information for the educated collector.

Collect. Be Inspired.