Sheila O’Kelly reveals why the third Sunday of June is traditionally FATHER’S DAY
On the 6th December 1907, a mining disaster occurred in the small town of Mononagh in West Virginia, killing 361 men, 250 of which were fathers leaving a thousand children fatherless.
Grace Golden Clayton (October 1875-March 1958) from West Virigina was deeply moved by this tragedy and she suggested to her pastor that a service be held to honour all men. Grace Clayton said at the time: “It was partly the explosion that got me thinking how important and loved most fathers are. How sad and frightening to have no father, no husband to turn to at such an awful time.”
Grace was a member of the William Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church and Robert Webb, her pastor, held a Father’s Day service there on the 5th July, 1908. The celebration was not promoted outside the town itself and there was no proclamation issued by the city council.
Two events overshadowed it: a massive celebration of Independence Day on the 4th July in Mononagh, and the death of a sixteen-year old girl there due to illness. The people of Mononagh were over-whelmed with grief and Grace felt it was not the time to promote Father’s Day and she never spoke of it.
In 1909, after listening to a sermon about Mother’s Day, Sonora Louise Smart Dodd (February 1882-March 1978), who lived with her husband, Bruce and their son Jack in Spokane, Washington wondered why there was no corresponding day to honour all fathers.