Without the City of Brotherly Love, historians agree, there likely would not be an enduring celebration of motherly love.

One hundred years ago, on May 10, 1908, the first Mother's Day was marked in Philadelphia when merchant John Wanamaker agreed to host a big to-do at his Market Street store.

Anna Jarvis, now recognized as the founder of Mother's Day, had lobbied Wanamaker for a special day honoring mothers; she spoke for 70 minutes in the Wanamakers auditorium, and more than 15,000 sought entrance, the story goes.

But earlier that morning, also at the behest of Jarvis, Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, W.Va., had held a Mother's Day celebration. Jarvis' mother had taught Sunday school at the church.

So two states - Pennsylvania and West Virginia - can lay legitimate claim to the centennial celebration of Mother's Day this year.

But Grafton and Philadelphia refuse to rumble over who deserves the credit.

"I think they should cooperate rather than separate themselves," said Marvin Gelhausen, no doubt making his own mother proud. Gelhausen is a board member for the International Mother's Day Shrine, which promotes motherhood from the historic Grafton church that Anna Jarvis attended.

He added: "Grafton is the real roots. If you don't know that part of the story, you don't really understand the history behind the day."

It was said with the utmost gentility.

And us? "We're really not doing anything specifically for Mother's Day," said spokesman Michael Chapaloney of the Pennsylvania Tourism Office.

He sounded a tad sheepish. "We love mothers," he added. "I don't want to seem anti-mother."

The state, Chapaloney said, would defer to Philadelphia, which marked the special anniversary yesterday with Tastykakes and flowers, thanks to some serendipity on a SEPTA bus. (More on that later.)

West Virginia, however, takes the (Tasty)kake - the hands-down winner of Mother's Day hoopla.

There, the celebration of Anna Jarvis and her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, spans the year, complete with an official logo in shades of pink. Concerts around the state. Tea. A fancy ball. Exhibits.

Today, the shrine will hold a service at 9 a.m., the same time as the original one. Later in the year, there will be a "Mom Fest" and breast-cancer walk.

Here, the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. devised a plan after communications vice president Jeff Guaracino looked out the window of the SEPTA bus he was riding and found himself staring at a historical marker on a traffic island next to City Hall.

In gold letters, he saw the year 1908. The sign notes that Jarvis, "of Philadelphia," founded Mother's Day, and that Wanamaker, "whose store stood opposite," was an early supporter. The first observance, it says, "honored motherhood and family life at a time of rising feminist activism."

The other tourism folks loved the idea. The "City of Motherly Love" program yesterday included a musical tribute on the 28,541-pipe organ in the John Wanamaker Building, which houses Macy's now, and Robertson's Flowers decorated the historic marker. Also, bouquets of carnations and roses were to be placed at the grave site of Jarvis and her mother in West Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Paradoxically, Jarvis would have found little to celebrate about Mother's Day 2008. Not long after she won federal recognition of the day in 1914, she began fighting its commercialization from overpriced cards, candies and carnations, her mother's favorite flower.

One story has her ordering a "Mother's Day Salad" at the Wanamakers tearoom and then dumping it on the floor to show her disapproval of its designation.

"Her vision for her Mother's Day was an intimate celebration of your mother and what she has done for you and your family," said shrine board member Katharine Antolini, a history student at West Virginia University who is writing her doctoral thesis on Anna Jarvis.

Ann Reeves Jarvis - "a woman ahead of her time," Gelhausen said - organized mothers clubs to combat high infant-mortality rates. After the Civil War, she led a Mothers' Friendship Day to help soothe wounds between the two sides.

Legend has it that a young Anna overheard Ann Jarvis' plea for a day to commemorate mothers and their good works.

When the mother died in May 1905, the daughter vowed to honor that wish. On the first two anniversaries, she held private services to recognize her mother's accomplishments.

She also launched a letter-writing campaign to leaders of the day, including President Theodore Roosevelt, ketchup tycoon H.J. Heinz, and Wanamaker.

After the first public observances, the idea spread to many states and led to a congressional resolution that President Woodrow Wilson signed.

In the end, however, her obsession and later battles against commercialism left Jarvis, who never married or had children, broke and bitter. She gradually lost her sight and at 84 died in a West Chester sanatorium - 40 years after the first public Mother's Day.

Still, Antolini thinks Jarvis would take a spot of pride in the centennial of "her baby," one shared happily by Philadelphia and Grafton (and the rest of West Virginia).

"You couldn't have one without the other," she said. "For Mother's Day to move beyond the simple ceremony in Grafton, you needed Philadelphia. Philadelphia was the big ceremony. But the history . . . is in West Virginia."

Philly gets the last word, of course. Said Meryl Levitz, head of the Philadelphia tourism group: "When people come to Philadelphia, that's what they want - real. It's the authenticity. It just makes us different. . . . We were very taken with the real Anna Jarvis, the real deal.

"And that's only here," she said, before adding, "and Grafton, W.Va."

Contact staff writer Lini S. Kadaba at 215-854-5606 or Lkadaba@phillynews.com.