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Sunday, September 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Founder of Father’s Day among those opposed to hanging murderer on downtown post office’s roof

The founder of Father’s Day, Sonora Smart Dodd, was among those opposed to hanging a convicted murderer on the downtown Spokane post office’s roof, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on March 9, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)
The founder of Father’s Day, Sonora Smart Dodd, was among those opposed to hanging a convicted murderer on the downtown Spokane post office’s roof, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on March 9, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Protests broke out immediately after Spokane’s U.S. marshal revealed he had applied to stage the hanging of convicted murderer Edward Mayberry on the roof of the downtown post office.

“Spokane cannot afford to permit the erection of a scaffold on the top of the federal building, where the national colors alone should hold unshadowed glory,” said a woman identified as Mrs. John Bruce Dodd. She was already famous under her actual name — Sonora Smart Dodd — as the founder of Father’s Day.

A boy’s chorus under the leadership of Rev. H.E.K. Whitney also took up the cause, and began circulating petitions in protest of the hanging.

The boys were protesting not just the proposed site of the hanging, but also the death penalty itself.

As it turned out, the protest would succeed in only one of its goals. The hanging would in fact be carried out on April 19 – but not on the post office roof. It would take place at Fort George Wright.

From the pioneer beat: James N. Glover, “the father of Spokane,” wrote the first part of a multipart memoir about his early-day experiences in the region.

Here’s how he described his first glimpse of the Spokane Valley, in May 1873: “The beautiful view that revealed itself to my eyes was more entrancing than I had ever beheld. The valley, filled with sunflowers, looked like a field of gold.”

By “sunflowers,” he undoubtedly meant arrow-leaved balsamroot, whose showy yellow flowers cover this region in April and May.

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