Historic mother: Tour marks sacrifice

Susan Rieger, left, who resides in the historic Annie and George Bell house at 1008 Ohio with her friend Susan Stahl will be offering tours of the historic home on the Marvelous Mother’s Day History Tour on May 9.

Susan Rieger, who resides in the historic Annie and George Bell house at 1008 Ohio, points out some graffiti scratched into the sandstone in 1908 at the back doorway of the house

Celebrating mothers by the numbers

82.8 million : Estimated number of mothers in the United States, as of 2004.

494: Births registered to women 50 or older, out of 4.3 million, in 2006.

25: Average age of first-time mothers when they gave birth, in 2006.

5.3 million: Number of stay-at-home moms in 2006.

36: Percent of women ages 15 to 50 who were not married when they gave birth in 2006.

5.3 million: Number of stay-at-home moms in 2008.

387,798: Number of births in August 2006, the most of any other month.

9.8 million: Number of single moms with children under 18, up from 3.4 million in 1970.

32.1: Number of twin births per 1,000 births in 2006.

The day before you celebrate your own mother, the Lawrence Arts Center invites you to honor a mother you’ve never met.

After her husband, George, was killed and the family home set on fire during Quantrill’s Raid on Aug. 21, 1863, Anna Bell did what she had to do to protect her six children. Those sacrifices included renting out her home and living in the basement to make ends meet.

Bell’s story and home at 1008 Ohio will be on display as part of the arts center’s Marvelous Mother’s Day History Tour. The event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, will start off with a brunch and talk by Kansas University architecture professor Dennis Domer at the center, 940 N.H. After that will be the tour, which includes a stop at the Bell house and a historical re-enactment, as well as a visit to the Old English Lutheran Church, 1040 N.H.

Tickets are $20 per person, and the proceeds go to the center’s dance program, says Sandy Sanders, development director at the center.

“It is an opportunity for people who are going to have their mothers around that weekend to get to see a little bit of historic Lawrence, get to see (and) be introduced to the Lawrence Arts Center and have some enjoyable tours for mothers and their children and their spouses and their significant others,” Sanders says.

Getting quite intimate with the story of Anna Bell and her family is Susan Rieger, who rents the home and is the artistic director for the center’s 940 Dance Company. Since moving in, she has done some research and even has taken to calling Mrs. Bell “Annie.” She says that since learning the story, she feels a sense of history within the house, which is one of the oldest surviving residential buildings in Lawrence and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It’s actually really fascinating,” says Rieger, who describes the basement where the Bell family lived as small and dark. “It’s kind of … a heroic tale in a way of survival and you know how sort of the personal stories of how Quantrill’s Raid affected people for generations.”