Anna Eliza Osborn Anthony: Wife of Col. D.R. Anthony
Last fall, the Leavenworth County Historical Society at the Carroll Mansion Museum installed an Anthony Family of Leavenworth exhibit. The patriarch of the Leavenworth Anthony family , Daniel Read Anthony, born in Adams, Massachusetts, was the brother of famed suffragist, Susan B. Anthony. History records Col. D.R. Anthony, as he was more commonly known, as perhaps the most colorful character in the history of Kansas journalism. An early resident of Leavenworth, before it became a state, Anthony was also a radical abolitionist, a Civil War soldier, and held numerous public offices, including that of postmaster and mayor of Leavenworth for a number of years. He and the subsequent Anthony line of D.R.s owned and published the Leavenworth Times for nearly 100 years.
What may be of interest to some, especially in the month of March, which is National Women’s History Month, is to know a little something about the woman who shared her life with Col. Anthony during their forty year marriage. When DR married Anna Eliza Osborn on January 21, 1864, in Edgartown, MA, at the Congregational Church by the Rev. H.P. Leonard, he was 39 years old and she 19. Miss Osborn was the daughter of one of the leading ship owners and whaling merchants of Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. Her father was Captain Abraham Osborn, who had married Eliza Norton and had a large family, for whom he built a stately home that still stands today on Main street in Edgartown, facing the harbor, among the homes of other wealthy sea captains. During the Civil War, his whaleship Ocmulgee, commanded by his son, Abram, was the first Yankee ship to be captured and burned by the Confederate enemy’s prize cruiser, the Alabama.
We are led to believe that the newlyweds originally took residence at the Planter’s House Hotel, overlooking the Missouri River. Calling cards stating such, are part of the Anthony Collection at the Carroll Mansion Museum. Resources note that Anna spent many hours watching from her hotel window the unloading of freight from steamers into the warehouses along the river and subsequent reloading of overland freight wagons out of the same warehouses.
It was not long though until the Anthonys moved to a residential area south of the Planter’s, to a location situated on the bluffs high above the river, on Esplanade Street. The Anthony children were born and raised here, to include Maude (1865-1950), Madge (1867, who died at 5 months of age, while the family visited in Rochester, NY, home of D.R. Anthony’s parents), Susie B. (1872-1889, accidentally drowned in ice skating accident), Annette (1883-1888. Dead at 5 years and just six months after her baby sister’s death), and Daniel Read Anthony, Jr. (1870-1931). Col. Anthony’s sisters, Susan B. and Mary visited often, and another sister, Hannah Anthony Mosher, died here of tuberculosis, in 1877 followed by DR himself in 1904.
In 1865, when DR was seeking another term as mayor, his sister, Susan B. was invited to come share his home in Leavenworth. Upon her arrival, she rejoiced in what she described as the “comfort of DR’s neat, little, snow-white cottage with green blinds.” Susan B. and Anna became fast friends and Susan admired Anna for her “gaiety and the way she fearlessly drove her beautiful black horse across the prairie.”
During her life as an Anthony, Anna was witness to her husband’s life as a stormy figure in Leavenworth and Kansas affairs. Her obituary stated, “His enemies shot at him and tried to mob him, he fought bitter political battles; he was violent in his hatreds and impetuous in his acts. Through all the years of his life, the colonel was respected—and feared. She found herself projected into scenes far more turbulent than any she had witnessed in her girlhood in the quiet little New England town where she was born. At first the young wife of the doughty colonel must have lived in fear that she would not see her husband alive again when he had left their home each day for work. But as time went by she undoubtedly became accustomed to the excitement of being the wife of a newspaper editor who was always prepared to defend his vitriolic editorial with a pistol.”
When Anna attended an elegant reception in February, 1888, given by wealthy banker, Lucien & Julia Scott in their handsome residence on Fifth Avenue, what is now the Carroll Mansion, she was among the list of “ladies in ravishing toilettes” wearing white silk flounced with black Spanish lace, corsage, bouquet of white flowers and diamonds.
A memoriam to Anna, read at the November 2, 1930 meeting of the Saturday Club, the oldest women’s club in Leavenworth, of which she had been a member, described Anna’s gracious manner, beauty, gallant spirit, active mind, and youthfulness, in recalling her connection with Leavenworth’s past history of adventure, bravery, and romance.
Given the events of her life, one might consider further evidence of Anna’s character, found in Ida Husted Harper’s Susan B. Anthony biography, where she writes about Col. Anthony’s appeal for suggestions regarding his will. The Anthony sisters complied by requesting him to leave to his wife a very considerable sum beyond all that he had intended, to replace some of her own money which she had put into his business in previous years.
When Col. Anthony died, at the age of 80, his estate, valued at $300,000 was left to his widow, Anna, and their two surviving children. Anna lived until 1930. The Anthony burial plot at Mt. Muncie Cemetery includes Col. and Anna Anthony, all their children except Madge and Maude, as well as Col. Anthony’s siblings, Hannah Anthony Mosher and Jacob Merritt Anthony. The stately Anthony homes remain habitable residences in Leavenworth to this day.
In addition to several Anthony family photos found in the Everhard Glass Plate Collection at the museum, two portraits are on exhibit of Col. D.R. Anthony and his son, Congressman D.R. Anthony Jr., which are on temporary loan from Dale Brendel, Editor of the Leavenworth Times. For more information about the Anthony family of Leavenworth, contact the Carroll Mansion Museum, 913-682-7759 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.