Anna Harrison was too ill to travel when her husband set out from Ohio in 1841 for his inauguration. It was a long and difficult trip, and at age 65 she was well acquainted with the rigors of frontier journeys. Born in 1775, Anna Symmes had grown up in the East, completing her education in New York City. At age 19, she went out to Ohio with her father, a judge, bringing pretty clothes and dainty manners to the settlement on the "north bend" of the Ohio River.
A clandestine marriage on November 25, 1795 united Anna and Lieutenant William Henry Harrison. Though the young man came from one of the best families of Virginia, Judge Symmes did not want his daughter to face the hard life of frontier forts. Eventually, though, seeing her happiness, he accepted her choice.
Harrisons service in Congress as territorial delegate from Ohio gave Anna and their two children a chance to visit his family at their plantation on the James River. Her third child was born on that trip, in September of 1800. When her husband was appointed governor of the Indiana Territory, he built a handsome house at Vincennes that blended fortress and plantation mansion. Five more children were born to Anna.
Facing war in 1812, the family went back to the farm at North Bend. She bore two more children. At the news of her husband's landslide electoral victory in 1840, home-loving Anna Harrison said simply: "I wish that my husband's friends had left him where he is, happy and contented in retirement."
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