Eleanor Wilson’s White House Wedding

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, May 8, 1914:  <no entry>

Source: Library of Congress
Source: Library of Congress

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma was probably totally exhausted as the spring cleaning and wallpapering wound down; and was too tired to write a diary entry a hundred years ago today. Hopefully she had a chance to relax a little, and maybe the wedding of the president’s daughter the previous day made her dream a little–

On May 7, 1914, Eleanor Wilson, the daughter of President Woodrow Wilson married William McAdoo. Eleanor was 24 years old, and he was a widower who was 26 years older than her. He was also the Secretary of the Treasury.

Source: Milton Evening Standard (April 19, 1914)
Source: Milton Evening Standard (April 19, 1914)

Apparently the article didn’t correctly predict how many wedding gifts the couple would receive. According to Eleanor’s 1967 obituary:

Her marriage to McAdoo drew world attention. The wedding was held in the White House, where a family friend recalled “there were rooms and rooms of gifts. It was all a mad rush, but she enjoyed it immensely.”

An aside—Apparently even a storybook wedding doesn’t ensure long-term happiness, because the obituary continued:

The couple divorced 20 years later when McAdoo was elected U.S. senator from California and Mrs. McAdoo had to remain in California for health reasons.

8 thoughts on “Eleanor Wilson’s White House Wedding

  1. A 26 year age difference would make for a difficult marriage, I would think. But I’m all for small weddings! Some weddings seems more like staged theater productions than a simple gathering to make vows to each other.

    I have to admit that I’ve been feeling guilty knowing how much time your grandmother spent doing spring cleaning! I can’t seem to get motivated enough to roll up my sleeves and begin. They had a lot more self-discipline 100 years ago!

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