The annual birthday celebration for Susan B. Anthony was held Sunday.
ADAMS, Mass. — Native daughter Susan B. Anthony was a quite of a rabble-rouser in her day.
But she wasn't the only one in the family dedicated to a cause and willing to make noise about it. Her parents and siblings were abolitionists and supportors of civil rights, perhaps none more so than her brother Daniel Read Anthony.
Politican, newspaperman, Jayhawker, soldier and two-fisted editorialist, D.R., as he was called, was a powerful force for a half-century in Kansas, far from his birthplace in Adams.
"[He] was always prepared to defend his vitriolic editorials with a pistol," quoted Mary Ann Sachse Brown, curator of the Anthony exhibit
at the Leavenworth County Historical Society, from the obituary of Anna Osborne Anthony, D.R's wife.
Brown's talk on D.R. was part of the annual celebration of Susan B. Anthony's birthday, sponsored by the Anthony Birthplace and Museum, which included a performance by folksinger Diane Taraz and, of course, a birthday cake. Anthony would have turned 192 on Friday.
Dozens of people attended the lecture and celebration in the GAR Hall at the Adams Free Library on Sunday afternoon.
Brown, flanked by a portrait of Anthony, delved into the colorful history of her younger brother. D.R. was born four years after Susan, in 1824, and was 30 when he left for newly opened Kansas with the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Society to fight slavery and dabble in land speculation.
Anthony apparently fit well in the volatile western territory, settling at Leavenworth and founding the Leavenworth Conservative paper. The town was at the end of the telegraph line so Anthony would travel through a blizzard to bring the capital of Lawrence the scoop of the state's acceptance into the union. He would travel with other Kansas men to Washington, D.C., in 1861 to celebrate its entrance, "just as things were beginning to heat up," said Brown.
Their presence kept the peace during a particularly fiery speech by one their new senators, which would lead to their being asked to provide protection for just-elected President Abraham Lincoln. Anthony was able to get an appointment as Leavenworth's postmaster, a post he would hold for a number of years.
He served in the 7th Kansas Regiment, also known as Jennison's Jayhawkers, as a lieutenant colonel during the Civil War. Anthony would later serve as mayor, in the legislature, as a delegate to numerous Republican conventions, and presidential elector but failed in his efforts to become governor.
By 1871, he had purchased the Leavenworth Times and consolidated a number of smaller papers into it. The Times would remain in the family through D.R. IV and wield significant influence over state politics for decades.
Daniel Read Anthony
The 19th century was a particularly violent time for newspaper owners and editors in Kansas, said Brown, and Anthony was known to keep two horse pistols in his drawer.
He was caned, horsewhipped (once by the mayor of Leavenworth!), assaulted and shot at, and likely did some damage of his own. The editor of a rival paper shot him at close range and he wasn't expected to survive but pulled through.
He kept communication with his family in the Northeast and often encouraged his father to join him. His sister Susan was an editorial adviser and frequent visitor at his home above the Missouri River and became fast friends with his wife, Anna, daughter of a whaling captain.
He died on Nov. 12, 1904, two years before his sister. The Kansas City Star described him as "a relic of the times that tried men's souls." Anthony himself, said Brown, lamented "in his old age that he was too conservative."
Both brother and sister had advocated in their own militant ways for temperance, for the end of slavery, for the rights of women and for the rights of all. It was fitting that U.S. Rep. Daniel R. Anthony Jr. would introduce the first version of the Equal Rights Amendment on the House floor in 1923.
It has yet to be ratified.