“Mrs. Herbert Hoover”: An Article by Ida R. Koverman (Part I)

Ida Koverman
Ida Koverman

By Thomas F. Schwartz

A previous blog post discussed the role of Ida R. Koverman with Herbert Hoover.

During the 1928 presidential campaign, Koverman was on the editorial board of the Republican Women’s Federation of California newspaper, The California Elephant. She occasionally wrote articles, including one in the February 1928 issue, “Mrs. Herbert Hoover.”

The article prompted a four-page, typed letter from Lou Hoover gently offering corrections to some of Koverman’s claims about her. This blog will deal with corrections to the Hoover marriage and Henry genealogy and an upcoming blog about their time in China.

Lou begins her letter with praise, writing: “It was awfully good of you to do it and to be so flattering of the part which you knew.” But, Lou continues, ”there are some bits of it which you have, in all innocence, taken from supposedly authentic newspaper reports, biographies, etc., which had better be corrected before they get into wide circulation.

She writes:

“The story of the Monterey marriage got such elaboration and detail from would-be friendly newspaper boys about Washington that it would be impossible for us to recognize our own wedding! Incidentally, I may mention in passing that my husband did not see anybody regarding it nor give any interviews to the paper. All the nice little details were made up of absolutely whole cloth or their imaginations. The one fact of truth about it was that Father Mestres, the Spanish padre of the old Spanish Mission, did come to my father’s house and marry us- not according to the rites of the Catholic Church, but with a very pleasant and impressive little service. We did not rush away on a day’s notice but had been engaged for a long time and the wedding had been planned for many months. (The fact that our beloved clergyman who was expected to officiate died six weeks before does not need to come into the story.)

“While the change from Australia to China was a change, there were those many weeks necessary for Mr. Hoover to get from Western Australia to California in which to prevent any particular surprise over the matter!

“They made an ardent Episcopalian out of me without much foundation. One half of my family were Episcopalian, the other half Presbyterian- and I was quartered and eighted (sic) into absolutely every known Protestant religion of the colonies- but they were both so tolerant that I went with either side to church or Sunday School according as the church conditions of the town dictated. Consequently, while I was quite accustomed to the form of the Episcopalian church I had never joined it and was not a communicant. Therefore, my Episcopalian friends who know the facts would raise their eyebrows not if they thought I was giving myself the status of a real church member of their own!

“Also the people still living who belonged to Monterey at that time will be the first to remember that there were a number of other clergymen within short riding distance. While it was true to us that Father Mestres was the most ‘available’ person for the purpose, yet ‘available’ did not mean that he was the only licensed clergyman within a few miles’ radius. There was no question at the time as to whether he might or might not wed Protestants. He did it more or less frequently. My father simply asked him if he would some and do it and he said that he would be delighted- no ‘hurried conference’ either ‘with the priest’ or regarding trousseau, packing, or anything else.

“There were many tales in the Eastern papers in the next two or three days after the first publication and comparison of half a dozen of them, diametrically opposed in detail, furnished much amusement to many friends- and I should not think of even telling you of the errors in the material from which you made your nice story were it not for the fact that I feared perhaps it might be frequently quoted in the next few months. Since there is so much of it without foundation and some that might cause unhappy comment from immediate neighborhood, I would suggest (certainly not that it be corrected in print anywhere but) that it be just allowed quietly to drop. I realize that trying to correct such stories when they have got well under way is practically impossible, and this one is not important enough to warrant trying. But it had better not be repeated any more than possible.”

Lou’s comments to Koverman were not an admonishment but merely a humorous corrective to an avid supporter of Herbert Hoover. The information was meant for Koverman’s eyes and understanding only and not something Lou wished to see in print. It is characteristic of Lou’s style with relationships to provide an off the record correction of the facts.

One thought on ““Mrs. Herbert Hoover”: An Article by Ida R. Koverman (Part I)

  1. da R. Koverman’s portrayal of Mrs. Herbert Hoover offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of a remarkable woman of her time. Looking forward to Part II to delve deeper into her contributions.

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