Skip to main content

What's all this about Herbert Hoover?

By Britta Stewart


If you’ve been around Newberg or George Fox University you may have noticed that the name Herbert Hoover comes up a lot. There is a Hoover building on the George Fox campus and a stretch of Highway 99W called Herbert Hoover Highway. It does seem unusual for a small town in the Willamette Valley to be seemingly obsessed with a president who is most often remembered by the economic turmoil of the Great Depression. However, a deeper look shows that this fascination is not that strange. Herbert Hoover actually called the Willamette Valley home for six years during his childhood. 


Hoover, or Bert as he was often called, was born in West Branch, Iowa in 1874. Unfortunately, he was orphaned by the time he was nine and subsequently moved to Newberg when he was eleven to live with his uncle and aunt, John and Laura Minthorn.  Dr. Henry John Minthorn (John) and his wife Laura had recently moved to Newberg to teach at a school called Friends Pacific Academy. This was the precursor to what is now George Fox University and Bert spent his three years in Newberg attending the new school. Today the campus commemorates his time there with buildings named after him and his uncle. In front of Minthorn Hall there is even a stone that boasts “Herbert Hoover slept here.” While it is true that Hoover did sleep here in Newberg, it is unlikely that he actually spent the night in Minthorn Hall or Kanyon Hall as it was called while he was a student. Hoover received free room and board from his aunt and uncle, he had his own bedroom in their house, and had many chores to help them with so it is more reasonable to assume that Bert spent his time in the Minthorn’s home and not a campus dormitory.


Ultimately, Hoover only spent three years of his childhood in Newberg. He moved to Salem, Oregon with the Minthorns in 1888 when he was 14 years old. His uncle had taken a job with the Oregon Land Company and Bert chose to work with him as an office boy instead of finishing high school. He spent the following three years learning business skills and developing his plan for the future. This led him to Stanford University and a wildly successful career as a mining engineer. Even though Hoover’s time in Newberg was relatively short, he began to develop skills and beliefs that would impact him throughout his adult life. His Quaker faith and outstanding work ethic are two things that can be directly tied to his uncle John. In addition to practical life skills, Hoover also learned how to fly fish while living in Newberg. This proved to be a significant development in the young sportsman’s life and led to his title of the “Fishing President.” 


At first glance the excess of Hoover cheer in Newberg may be confusing. However, with a closer look it becomes clear that during Newberg’s formative years, the community was imparting significant lessons during a formative period of a future president’s life. Next time you're in Newberg be sure to stop by the Hoover-Minthorn House Museum or walk around the George Fox campus to see Minthorn hall.

Comments

  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing this bit of history. Well done.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Mysterious “E. Wright”

By Chuck Zickefoose Why mysterious?  His name shows or has shown up on sidewalks around Newberg.  The sidewalk faces have a distinctive white paint-like appearance not seen on other walks in town.  Also he is associated with two “Union Block” buildings, one in McMinnville, the other in Newberg.  It is supposed that the “E” in his name stood for either Elsia or Elza according to Polk’s Directory of 1912-13 for McMinnville, Oregon.  His occupation is listed as a cement worker.  Other sources name him as a contractor building sidewalks in McMinnville as well as a harness maker. There are three sections of sidewalks in Newberg that are presumed to have been laid by Wright, these are: West side of S. College St south of First St West side of Blaine, E. Sheridan and south on Washington West side of Main St. north of Hancock to Franklin St. The distinctive markings are evident on each of the above stretches of sidewalk: Sheridan and Washington Sts. West side of S.

The Precedent for Unprecedented Times: The Spanish Flu in Newberg 1918-1919

by Rachel Thomas Ch eck out Part 2: The Spanish Flu and Pacific College/George Fox University! Note: Clippings in this article are from the Newberg Graphic which can be accessed through the  University of Oregon   Historic Oregon Newspapers project .  Newberg Graphic, October 17, 1918. In the winter of 1918-1919 an epidemic swept the globe. The Spanish Influenza as it was called, arrived in the last few months of World War I. In Newberg, schools were closed, public gatherings were cancelled, and many fell ill. Newberg Graphic, January 9, 1919. Spain protested the moniker "Spanish Flu" - it was not theirs! News from London, New York, and other major cities spoke of a major epidemic. The Newberg Graphic published articles answering questions on symptoms of influenza, how to care for oneself, and the importance of avoiding gatherings. Outdoor exercise was recommended. Newberg Graphic, October 17, 1918. Newberg Graphic, October 10, 1918 Advice gi

The Precedent for Unprecedented Times Part 2: The Spanish Flu and George Fox University

By Rachel Thomas Part 1: The Spanish Influenza and Newberg When the Spanish Influenza epidemic hit Newberg in 1918, it’s effects on Pacific College (now known as George Fox University) were severe. The 1918-1919 school year had already begun with a two week delay so that students could assist in harvesting the local prune crop. Labor was scarce because of WWI. Once classes began at the beginning of October 1918, they were held for four weeks, before Pacific College closed for most of the month of November. Towards the end of November, classes resumed, but were closed again by December 24th. The college hoped to reopen by the 30th of December, but this was not to be the case. The college finally opened again on February 27, 1919. The college had been closed for nine weeks of scheduled class time, and many students had lost additional time due to personal illness and quarantine, frequently referred to as “enforced flu vacations.” While the college was cl

Chapters or the Morris, Miles, and Company Building

The Morris, Miles and Co. building, erected in 1891, was the first commercial brick building in Newberg. At that time, Newberg had been an officially incorporated town for only two years. In this year, the fledgling Pacific Friends Academy added their college arm (later named George Fox University).Several businesses existed in the downtown and the Quaker settlement that had begun to take root was begining to flourish. The Morris, Miles and Co. drygoods and groceries business struggled financially and changed ownership several times thru the early 1900s. They sold a variety of materials, advertising their products in the Newberg Graphic. After Moris, Miles, and Co closed, Larkin-Prince managed a hardware store there for at least ten years thru the 1910s. Parker Hardware followed in the 1920s. There were times when the building was vacant and other times when it was divided into two separate stores. Then in 1944, Rolla Renne left his position as Superintendent of Newberg School

Central School to Chehalem Cultural Center: Part One

By Barbara Doyle This is part one of a multi-part series on the history of Central School, look for new installments in the weeks to come! This and future installments in this series are adapted from Barbara Doyle's book on this topic: From Then 'till Now: Schooling in Newberg, Oregon . Part Two Part Three Part Four Part Five Part Six Part Seven Newberg Oregon was just like many other small towns in late nineteenth century America.  We had a one-room wooden schoolhouse with students that could vary between five and twenty years of age – with just one teacher. Erected in 1881, the building was located at the Northeast corner of Main and Illinois streets. Initially thirteen students attended this ungraded public school. Students progressed individually thru the educational program. Good spelling and penmanship plus competence in simple arithmetic and understanding the words and ideas in Readers [numbered 1-6] was often the equivalent of an eighth grade education. This buildi

Evangeline Martin and Amanda Woodward

Author: Rachel Thomas In 1910, Newbergers became familiar with the sounds of a horse and buggy clip clopping down the streets, stopping at each home and business. In the  buggy, pulled by a faithful horse named Kit, sat Amanda Woodward and Evangeline Martin.  Amanda Woodward and Evangeline Martin in buggy , courtesy of the George Fox University Archives. Amanda Woodward was married to Ezra Woodward, the editor of the Newberg Graphic. The couple owned the paper, and lived in a beautiful Queen Anne Victorian on River street (now the Health and Counseling center at George Fox University). The couple moved to Oregon in 1880 in response to William Hobson's call to form a Quaker community in the valley. They were devoted supporters of the community and were active participants in Newberg social movements. Ezra Woodward was on the board of trustees for Pacific College ( George Fox University ), and their two children, Sibyl and Walter attended the college.  Evangeline Martin w