Anna Ramsey Biography - Page 1

Anna Earl Jenks was born in Newtown, Pennsylvania (Bucks County) on July 17, 1826 to Judge Michael Hutchinson Jenks and Mary Ridgeway Earl Jenks. She was the youngest of nine children in a Quaker family. Judge Jenks served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and it was during that time that his daughter met young Pennsylvania congressman Alexander Ramsey. Forced to elope because Alex did not share her Quaker faith, the couple was married in Mount Holly, New Jersey in 1845.

In 1849 Anna moved to the newly organized Minnesota Territory when her husband was appointed territorial governor by President Zachary Taylor. Anna's first two years in Minnesota were extremely hard. Son Alexander Jr. died in 1850 at age four, and son Willie followed the next year at less than one year of age. Daughter Marion, who was born about 1853, survived.

As first lady Anna was considered to be upper class, fashionable and intelligent. She was the proper Victorian woman, finding "her greatest happiness in the great duties of wife and mother." She also reigned as the center of social activity in the capital city, hosting parties and events, and having "that rare characteristic whose possessor every stranger recognizes at once as a friend." Charitable work occupied much of her time. She became an active volunteer with the House of Hope Presbyterian Church and taught Sunday school classes at the nearby Fort Road Mission. A favorite cause was the Home for the Friendless in St. Paul (now part of Wilder Residence East), an organization that offered shelter for destitute women and their children. Anna Ramsey served as the organization's vice president and visited twice a week. Anna also reportedly mailed food and household goods anonymously to local families in need.