The Unlikely Road to Success
Born in the tiny village of West Branch, Iowa, in 1874 to Quaker parents, the young Hoover worked hard at an early age. His brother Theodore was three years older and his sister, May, two years younger than he. His paternal ancestors had migrated to the United States in 1738 from Switzerland and westward to Iowa in the nineteenth century, and his maternal ancestors had emigrated to the United States as early as 1630. His father, Jesse, who was a blacksmith, died from "rheumatism of the heart," as a local obituary described it in 1880 when Jesse was 34 and Herbert was six, and his mother, Hulda, died of pneumonia three years later when she was 35. 1
The orphaned Hoover children were placed with various relatives in Iowa and Arkansas for a year. In 1884, Herbert, at age 10, was sent to Oregon to live with his uncle and aunt, Henry John and Laura Minthorn, in Newberg, Oregon. Young Herbert lived his formative years with neither his parents nor even his brother and sister, who stayed with other relatives. 2
All his youth, Herbert adhered to a strict morality dictated by his Quaker faith, accepting the precepts of hard work and honest faith, while elevating truthfulness and duty much above materialistic success. 3 A shy but determined boy, Hoover was hardly an aspirant for public adulation.