Father’s Day

Father’s Day is celebrated the third Sunday in June as a companion to Mother’s Day which is celebrated in May.  But when and why did it begin?  According to Britannica.com, Father’s Day originated with Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington in honor of her father.[1]  The article states “she is said to have had the idea in 1909 while listening to a sermon on Mother’s Day which at the time was becoming established as a holiday.”  This idea was supported and the first Father’s Day was celebrated in 1910 during the month of her father’s birthday. It became a national holiday in 1972 after legislation was signed designating Father’s Day as the third Sunday in June.

Sonora’s father, William Jackson Smart, was a Union Soldier during the Civil War attached to the Arkansas 1st Battery Light Artillery.  He married Elizabeth Harris in 1865 and she died 12 years later during childbirth with the last of their six children. William then raised those children on his own until he remarried in 1880. He and his second wife then raised several more children.

What of our own fathers?  What do we know about their lives and achievements?  Have they written their stories? If not, have you written their stories? What of their fathers and grandfathers and on back for generations?  What do you know about your fathers of long ago?  You can start this journey by talking to your father, if he is alive, or other family members. For deceased fathers of long ago, you might try looking online at FamilySearch.org or other websites such as Ancestry.com or MyHeritage.com.  Perhaps your grandfathers and great + grandfathers are found there. Many articles have been written revealing the benefits of knowing your family history, such as “Six Benefits of Knowing Your Family History.”[2] Another excellent article is “Why We Need Family History Now More Than Ever.”[3]

Learning about my own father and grandfather has given me greater strength with my own challenges. My grandfather was an alcoholic during my father’s growing up years. He was a good and kind father, but his alcoholism affected my father in such a way that he had great difficulty with stuttering.  My father joked about working in the office as a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force during the Korean War and with a name like Steinbeigle, it was a challenge to answer the phone…. Staff Sergeant Steinbeigle, Sir. Later, while studying to be an architect at the University, his professor pulled him aside and encouraged him to get help with the stuttering. He did and, as his daughter, it was barely perceptible to me. My grandfather also took the challenge of leaving alcoholism behind and joined AA and stayed with it his whole life, not touching one more drop after his oldest grandchild was born.

As you begin to realize the great value in learning about the lives of your fathers and forefathers, you may wish to talk about this at family reunions and share what you have learned.  If you do not know their stories and would like help, we at Lineages would love to provide that assistance. And to further assist you, we are offering a coupon which you may redeem through the end of July. Talk to your family at your next reunion and see if, perhaps, your family group could contribute to learning more about your family.


[1]  Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, “Father’s Day” (Britannica.com/topic/Father’s-Day).

[2]  Morris, Helen, “Six Benefits of Knowing Your Family History (https://blog.storyterrace.com/us/6-benefits-of-knowing-your-family-history#:~:text=By%20learning%20about%20the%20hardships,cultures%20and%20open%20our%20minds.).

[3]  Coleman, Rachel “Why We Need Family History Now More Than Ever” (https://www.familysearch.org/en/blog/why-we-need-family-history-now-more-than-ever).

Photo Attributions:

  • William Smart photo in Memories for William Jackson Smart (FamilySearch.org / LWJG-CVH)
  • Personal photo from author