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More of Don's
photo series.

Presidents' Places: Herbert Hoover

House Herbert Hoover was born in

A walk through West Branch, Iowa, is a walk through the past. Herbert Hoover was born in this little cottage in 1874 and spent his childhood here.

The stream Bertie would fish in; a bit of the unbroken tallgrass prairie

He would go fishing in this stream which flows near his house. Looking in the distance he would see the unbroken tallgrass prairie.

Jess Hoover's Blacksmith Shop

Still a working blacksmith's shopStill a working blacksmith's shop

Perhaps he would saunter over to Jess Hoover's blacksmith shop and watch his father shoe a horse or make a hinge.

On Sunday he would go to this Quaker church with his parents and brother and sister; probably he wasn't too happy about this, because it meant sitting quietly for a long time. . . a long, long time for a boy.

The Quaker church Hoover attended as a child

Then his father died; two or three years later his mother died also. His brother and sister went to live with relatives nearby, but Bertie was put on a train to go live with his aunt and uncle way off in Oregon, where he lived with the Minthorns, his mother's sister's family. Dr. Minthorn, who was both a medical doctor and an educator, was instrumental in establishing what is now George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon.

Hoover-Minthorn House in Newberg, Oregon
The Hoover-Minthorn House in Newberg, Oregon,
where Bertie lived with his mother's sister's family.

From all appearances, Bertie had as happy a life as can be expected while living in Newberg. He studied hard and earned a good education.

Minthorn Hall, George Fox University, Newberg, Oregon; where Bertie 'stayed'.

Minthorn Hall, at George Fox University in Newberg, where Bertie "stayed," whatever that means. The Hoover Academic Building houses a pretty nice display of Hoover as President.

Hoover Academic Building, Goerge Fox University, Newberg, Oregon.Hoover Academic Building houses display of Hoover artifacts

The Minthorns moved to Salem, Oregon, when Bertie was 15; he worked in his uncle's office until he left to attend Leland Stanford's new college in Palo Alto, California, where he was a member of the first graduating class, having worked his way through college by typing for people, operating a laundry agency, and delivering newspapers. At one point he did some surveying, notably at Silver Falls in Oregon.

Display of Hoover working as a mining engineer
Display of Hoover working as a mining engineer.

Bertie became a very successful mining engineer, spending the next couple of decades in various places around the world. He retired a millionaire at forty, then entered public service. At the end of World War I he organized food relief for millions of starving Europeans. He was appointed Secretary of Commerce for presidents Harding and Coolidge. In 1928 he ran for president and won. On March 3, 1929, he was arguably the most successful man in the world.

A few months later came the crash of 1929, then the depression. Hoover, the man who had organized the feeding of Europeans, now refused to do so for Americans. His presidency was pretty much a failure; it took many years for him to be honored again.

The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch, Iowa, tells the story of this remarkable man.

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

Herbert Hoover was President of the United States when I was born (1930).

At Hoover Academic Building, George Fox University, Newberg, Oregon
"All men are equal before fish."


All photos on this site ©Donald L. Mark 1973-2007   Back to "Presidents' Places" Index