One U.S. president grew up in Oregon
I was watching President Biden’s inauguration on TV, and it’s got me wondering, has any U.S. president ever come from Oregon?
— No name given, via instant message
No U.S. president has ever been born in the Beaver State, unnamed question-asker, but one president did spend a sizable chunk of his childhood here.
That president would be Herbert Clark Hoover, our 31st president who served from 1929 to 1933, according to the “Notable Oregonians” listed in the Oregon Blue Book, the state’s official fact book produced by the Oregon State Archives.
Hoover was born Aug. 10, 1874 in West Branch, Iowa, according to the state almanac, but Hoover moved to Oregon after he was orphaned at the age of 10 and spent six years in the state.
The Oregon Encyclopedia states that Hoover moved to the state in 1885, a year after Hoover’s mother died, to live with his uncle and aunt, John and Laura Minthorn of Newberg, which at the time was a small Quaker village.
Hoover spent three years in Newberg, and moved with the family to Salem three years later and worked as an office boy for the business his uncle founded, the Oregon Land Company.
At the age of 17, Hoover was among the first to enroll at Stanford University to pursue engineering, and his career path to the highest office in the land — not to mention the Great Depression that unfolded during his term — is history.
In Hoover’s memoirs, according to the Oregon Encyclopedia, the former president looked back fondly on his years in Oregon, and its “abundant fruit,” “gleaming wheat fields” and fish in mountain streams.
“To step into its forests with their tangles of berry bushes, their ferns, their masses of wildflowers stirs up odors peculiar to Oregon,” Hoover wrote. “Within these woods are never-ending journeys of discovery.”
After battling a series of illnesses, Hoover died on Oct. 20, 1964 in New York City and was buried in the town of his birth near his presidential library.
No president has yet been born in Oregon, and the only president yet born on the west coast was Richard Nixon, who was born in Yorba Linda, California.
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