Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Who Went to Washington?

Last week, while exploring the old newspapers at Fulton History, Gossips learned about a fair in aid of Edmonds Hose Co. No. 1 to be held on February 13, 14, and 15, 1913, and reported about it. The fair was to include a "Most Popular Young Lady" contest--a traditional contest for such an event with a very untraditional prize: a trip to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson. Gossips was curious to know why this trip was thought to be especially appealing to the ladies of Hudson and who won the prize. An hour or so spent with the microfilm in the Columbia-Greene Community College library revealed the answer to the latter question but not the former.

The winner of the "Most Popular Young Lady" contest was Miss Helen E. Kline. On Saturday, February 15, 1913, the morning of the last day of the fair, the Hudson Republican reported that Miss Kline was slightly ahead in the contest. The votes were then: "Miss Helen Kline, 684; Miss Emma Fleahman, 621." On Monday morning, however, the Hudson Republican reported that Miss Kline had won by a landslide:
The surprise of the night was the exceedingly heavy vote cast for Miss Helen E. Kline, daughter of Supervisor and Mrs. William J. Kline. She was awarded the free trip to Washington, D.C., having the largest number of votes in the contest for the most popular young lady. Miss Emma Fleahman also made a strong run was second in the contest. The final result was: Miss Kline, 1,635; Miss Fleahman, 713.
Disappointingly, no account or mention could be discovered in the Hudson Republican of Miss Kline's trip, but further research in other sources discovered this information about her. 

Helen C. Kline was born in 1898, so at the beginning of 1913 when she won the "Most Popular Young Lady" contest, she would have been 14 years old. Her parents were William J. and Charlotte (Lottie) Kline, and she had a brother, four years older, named Everett. In 1900, when Helen was just a year old, census records indicate that the family lived at 749 Columbia Street, and her father's occupation was recorded as "saloon keeper."

Ten years later, in 1910, census records indicate that the family was living at 705 Warren Street, and William was the proprietor of a hotel, which we know from the 1905 booklet Illustrated Hudson, N.Y. was Kline's Hotel. The description in that booklet gives some hint of where Helen got her predilection for popularity: "As mine host Mr. Kline is one of the most genial of his kind in the city, and this fact has been a potent factor in building up the fine trade he enjoys." 
We know from the Hudson Republican item announcing Helen as the winner of the trip of Washington that her father, William J. Kline, was, in 1913, a supervisor. By 1915, according to New York State census records, he was the sheriff, and the family, which now included a 39-day-old son named William J., Jr., lived in the house on East Court Street, behind the courthouse, which was the residence maintained for the sheriff. 

On August 30, 1916, the Hudson Evening Register reported that Miss Helen E. Kline showed an English setter in the "Big Dog Show Here at Homestead Park." On January 17, 1917, Miss Helen E. Kline was married to Claude J. Weaver, son of Mr. & Mrs. Walter Weaver, who lived on Eighth Street. The wedding, which took place at the parsonage of St. John's Lutheran Church, wasn't announced in the Hudson Evening Register until March 1, 1917, when it is noted that the new Mrs. Weaver, "who has recovered from a recent illness," left that afternoon to join her husband in Waterville, Connecticut, where he had "an excellent position with the Chase Manufacturing company" and where the couple were to make their home. Interestingly, the wedding announcement reminds us that "the bride . . . is a very popular young woman."

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