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Anna Harrison
by John T. Marck
 

 


 

Anna Harrison

First Lady: 1841

Wife of President William Henry Harrison

Born: July 25, 1775 Died: February 25, 1864

Anna Tuthill Symmes was born in Morristown, New Jersey, on a farm called Solitude. Anna's mother died when she was three years old, so she was raised by her maternal grandparents on Long Island until she was seventeen. Anna's father, John Cleves Symmes had been appointed a judgeship in the territorial government and also was in charge of a million acres of land, known as the Miami Purchase, on the Ohio River, near Cincinnati. It was this land that was to be divided and sold as large homesteads. John Symmes chose for himself an area of land above the Ohio River, near the town of North Bend, and built a comfortable home made of logs. While this home was being completed, Anna lived with her sister across the river in Lexington, Kentucky. It was here at her sister's that she met Lieutenant William Henry Harrison.

Harrison fell in love with Anna, but Anna's father was not in favor of their relationship as he did not want Anna to have to live on a soldier's salary. Once Anna settled in their home in North Bend, Harrison visited often, as he was stationed sixteen miles away at Cincinnati's Fort Washington. Finally Anna defied her father's wishes and married Harrison on November 25, 1795. They first lived in officer's quarters at the fort. Harrison soon agreed that his soldier's salary did not suffice for a family. Anna's father then gave Harrison a section of land, and they moved into the house at North Bend. Harrison then began a career in farming and politics. In 1801, he was sent as Governor to the Indiana Territory, and moved Anna and their children (they had ten children during their marriage), by boat to the territorial capital. Once there, Harrison built a home designed after Berkeley, his birthplace on the James River. During the War of 1812, Harrison moved his family back to North Bend, where Anna would spend most of the rest of her life.

Harrison was elected President in March 1841 however died in April 1841 having served only 31 days of his term. Anna never saw Washington, D.C., as she was still in Ohio upon his election, and was still packing for the trip to the White House when Harrison died. In later years her farmhouse burned down, so she moved to an adjoining farm owned by her only remaining child, John Scott Harrison, father of Benjamin, the twenty-third President. Anna died here on February 25, 1864.

Copyrightę John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author. From The First Ladies of the Unites States by John T. Marck.