52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Week 2: Family Legend

Greetings, marhaba & welcome!  I am back with week two of Amy Johnson Crow challenge #52Ancestors.

2021 Week 2 Prompt: Family Legend

I am related to President Herbert Hoover (1874-1964), or at least that is what I have been told. As with most family lore, it is followed by the caveat that we have no proof, and it might not be true, but this is the way the story goes. My ancestor, Peter Hoover (1831-1918), was said to be a cousin, somehow, of the president. Both men lived in Oregon at some time in their lives. President Hoover moved from Iowa to Oregon in 1885, when he went to live with his mother’s brother, Henry John Minthorn. He moved away to attend Stanford University in 1891. [1] Peter Hoover moved to Oregon in 1852 and lived there until his death in 1918.[2]

In 1928, this story was shared by Peter’s daughter-in-law in the1928 Corvallis Gazette-Times, “Second Cousin to Herb Hoover Lives in City Corvallis: Will Go to Washington to See Inauguration Next March, Says”.

When I first found this article on Newspapers.com, I was ecstatic, thinking that I was going to finally prove that the legend was true. After reading it more clearly however, I discovered that there were a few glaring issues.

The first problem is that the article states that Herbert Hoover’s father’s name was Solomon. It was not. According to the Herbert Hoover National History Site, his father was Jesse Hoover. His grandfather, Eli, had a brother, Solomon but no connection has been found to Peter. Herbert Hoover’s immigrant ancestor is said to be Andrew Hoover (Huber) who immigrated to the United States around 1738 from Germany. [3]

Second, the article indicates that Dr. Clayton A. Hoover (1953-1929), is a first cousin of President, however, research has led me to find that he is instead the brother of J. Edgar Hoover’s grandfather. No information leads Dr. Clayton Hoover to President Hoover, at least so far.

No father is listed on Peter Hoover’s death certificate, but his birthplace is listed in Ohio. Family trees on Ancestry.com, show that Peter Hoover’s father is Joshua Hoover (1796-1867), who is the son of Captain Hendrick Hoover (1740-1804). They do not provide any evidence that Peter is Joshua’s son, except for an 1850 Federal census for Union County, Ohio. There are, however, several other Peter Hoover’s listed in the 1850 Federal census in Ohio who could also be my ancestor. There is no known relationship between Joshua Hoover and President Herbert Hoover. Peter Hoover is my Hoover brick wall.

When I shared these finding with family members, we had several questions. Could the relatives who claimed to receive letters and visit with Herbert Hoover at the time of his campaign be telling the truth and I just can’t find the connection? Could the reporter have confused Herbert Hoover with J. Edgar Hoover? Could the story have been fabricated and merely claimed due to the shared last name? This is where I am today, but maybe not tomorrow.

Where does that leave me. I have a story, a brick wall and even more questions. I am currently researching the FAN club* around Peter Hoover and the various Peters found in the 1850 census. I am also hoping to visit the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum to look at their manuscript collections (post Covid).

So, until then, this family legend continues, until I either prove it is true or debunk the family legend!

* FAN Club research is a methodology coined by Elizabeth Shown Mills looking at friends, associates and neighbors (FAN) of the person you are researching.

[1] “Hoover’s Oregon Boyhood,” The Hoover-Minthorn House Museum: Newberg, Oregon.

[2] “Aged Benton Pioneer Passes”, obituary, Peter Hoover (Corvallis, Oregon) The Weekly Gazette-Times, 5 Sep 1918, p. 3, col. 4.; digital image, Newspapers.com

[3] Hulda Hoover McLean, The Genealogy of the Herbert Hoover Family (California: Stanford University Press, 1967), p.121.

Published by Reem Awad-Rashmawi

Photographs & Memories by Reem

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