|Herbert Hoover, the thirty-first president of
the United States, made two of the most important decisions
of his life while growing up in Marion County. Residents of
Marion County also played important roles in Hoovers later
Born in Iowa in 1874, Herbert Hoover became an orphan at
age ten and joined an aunt and uncle, Henry J. and Laura Minthorn,
in Newberg, Oregon, in November 1885.
Hoover moved to Salem in the summer of 1888 where Mr. Minthorn
had become president of the Oregon Land Company. "Bert,"
as he was known then, began working as the companys
office boy for $15.00 a week. His duties included driving
potential real estate buyers to land for sale in the Salem
area; taking care of the horses used by the company; substituting
as a streetcar conductor; and general office work. Through
his job, Hoover learned typing and bookkeeping.
Hoover lived with his aunt and uncle in a new house that
was part of Salems Highland addition developed by the
Oregon Land Company. The house still stands, although it has
been significantly altered.
Two individuals gave him special encouragement during his
Salem years, Hoover later recalled. Sunday school teacher
Jennifer Gray encouraged him to read more broadly and think
about the larger world. Engineer Robert Brown told him that
engineering was a great profession, but that he needed to
attend college to become a professional engineer.
This encouragement led him to make his two big decisions:
to become a mining engineer (a career in which he made millions
of dollars) and to be part of the "pioneer class"
at Stanford University when it opened in September 1891. As
Hoover later said, "My boyhood ambition was to be able
to earn my own living, without the help of anybody, anywhere."
While growing up in Salem, Hoover became acquainted with
another orphan his age, Charles McNary. Both men were leading
Republican politicians in the 1920s and 1930s. McNary, who
served in the United States Senate for more than twenty-five
years, was the GOP vice presidential candidate in 1940. Hoover
served as United States President from 1929 to 1933. Although
unsuccessful, Hoover's 1932 presidential campaign involved
a ten-year-old Marion County boy named Mark Hatfield, who
later became a Hoover scholar and United States senator.
During Hoovers term as president, the federal government,
including an additional 37,000 miles of highway and the creation
of Federal Land Banks to halt farm closures. Under his tenure
the United States adopted the "Star Spangled Banner"
as its national anthem. Hoover gave his salary to charity
and made unsuccessful attempts to prevent the stock market
collapse of October 1929 and the Great Depression.
Hoover visited Marion County at least twice after his years
as president. His final visit was in August 1955, when at
age 80, he spent a night in Salems Senator Hotel. Hoover
died in 1964.
Kyle Jansson, "Herbert Hoover: His Salem Years,"
Historic Marion, Vol. 38, no. 1 (Spring 2000), pp. 1-3.
Kyle Jansson, "Marion County's Uneasy Relationship with
Herbert Hoover," Historic Marion, Vol. 38, no. 2 (Summer
2000), pp. 5-7.