Vincennes, Indiana – February 23, 2012 – “Anna Symmes Harrison, was completely and personally intertwined with the succession of events that took place in the U.S. between 1775 and 1864. You might say she was the original Daughter of the American Revolution …” So begins author and public historian, Cynthia Ogorek, describing the life of the first First Lady of the United States to have received a public school education, Mrs. William Henry Harrison.
Grouseland Foundation, which oversees the Harrisons’ Indiana Territorial Mansion, “Grouseland” in Vincennes, Indiana, will host “Brunch with Anna Harrison – The Story That Was Never Told,” a catered brunch and presentation by Ogorek at 10:30 AM, on Saturday, March 24, 2012, in the Fort Sackville Room in the Beckes Student Union (College and 2nd St.) on the campus of Vincennes University.
In addition to being married to one of the most ubiquitous of frontier leaders, 9th President William Henry Harrison, Anna Symmes Harrison was also born into a prominent family. Her father was a wealthy landowner and one of the first judges in the Northwest Territory.
Having been raised in comfort and well-educated on the east coast, Anna Symmes lived with almost constant loss and loneliness, surviving the deaths of her mother, only sister, her presidential husband, and eight of her ten children. Anna also adapted to tremendous adversity, adjusting to the challenges of living on the frontier and becoming a very public wife while enduring long and almost continuous confinements that accompanied dangerous nineteenth century childbirth.
Because of her frequent bouts of poor health and her husband’s sudden death after taking office, Anna Harrison is the only First Lady of the United States, who never had the opportunity to assume her official duties in the White House. Despite all her hardships, Anna Harrison lived almost 90 years.
Ogorek will explore these issues in more depth as the keynote speaker at “Brunch with Anna Harrison – The Story That Was Never Told,” the fruit of her research into fifteen First Ladies from the Midwest, of whom Anna Harrison is the earliest, having first served as the First Lady of the Indiana Territory in at Grouseland in Vincennes.
“We want to give residents and out-of-town visitors of Vincennes the opportunity to discover our frontier political and cultural heritage from a woman’s point-of-view.” says Lisa Ice-Jones, Grouseland Foundation’s Programming Chairperson. “As the First Lady of Grouseland, Anna’s experience was unique and certainly not typical of a pioneer woman, but she served as a long-suffering eyewitness to the birth of our nation. She also provided a great deal of invisible support to her husband’s legendary career in public service. We feel it is time to shine the spotlight on her great contributions.”
Cynthia Ogorek is based in Calumet City, IL. Her search for information regarding Mrs. Harrison has taken her to archives in Ohio, New Jersey and Long Island, New York. She was quoted for the entry about Anna Harrison in the U.S. News and World Report’s “First Ladies” special edition (2010). Cynthia is the author of Along the Calumet River and The Lincoln Highway Around Chicago. Find out more about her at www.centerofknownhistory.com.
Tickets for “Brunch with Anna Harrison – The Story That Was Never Told,” are $15 per person, and can be purchased at the door or in advance at Grouseland, 3 West Scott Street, Vincennes, IN; by emailing Grouseland@sbcglobal.net; or calling (812) 882-2096. Advance reservations are strongly encouraged.