Last updated: March 20, 2021
Theodore Jesse Hoover, called “Tad” as a child, was born January 28, 1871 in West Branch, Iowa. Shortly after his birth, his parents Jesse and Hulda moved into the two room cottage where his younger brother Herbert was born in 1874.
Theodore had one clear memory of Herbert in their small West Branch cottage. It was a day of grief followed by jubilant happiness. The little boys both suffered attacks of croup and on this occasion, Herbert’s was nearly fatal. After failed attempts at household remedies by his parents, aunts, and cousins, Herbert laid on a high table gradually choking. Just as everyone thought his brother had died, his uncle Doctor Henry John Minthorn showed up having just returned to town, and revived him.
After their parents’ deaths, young Theodore lived with his aunt and uncle Davis and Maria Hoover in Hardin County, Iowa. His uncle offered Theodore a home and to teach him all he knew about farming plus a team of horses and a wagon when he came of age.
Theodore did not see a very brilliant future as a farmer. He wrote, “The west was still the land of romance in those days and the ‘wander-lust’ had a good grip. My brother had gone to Oregon and I had a great longing to see him.” After four years of a farmer’s life he left for Oregon in 1887. He began school at Friends Pacific Academy in Newberg, Oregon where his uncle Henry John Minthorn was superintendent. At first Theodore received his meals at the Academy boarding house and shared a room with Herbert on the lower story of the academy’s main building. Tad later stayed with his Uncle Benjamin Miles and worked for his board.
Theodore often ran afoul of his strict Quaker relatives, who believed he needed to be “rescued from the burning and that a campaign was inaugurated to lead him into a better method of life.” When they disapproved of him attending a dance at a nearby school, Theodore left the Pacific Academy rather than be expelled.
For the next few years Theodore worked for printers and newspapers, alternated with college studies at Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa. In 1897, at the age of 26, he had again saved enough to return to college and attended his brother’s school, Stanford University. In 1899 in San Francisco, California, Theodore married Mildred Crew Brooks of West Liberty, Iowa. In 1901 he graduated from Stanford University at the age of 30. Together Theodore and Mildred had three daughters.
Over the next few years, Theodore worked as a mining engineer. In 1919, he accepted an appointment as a professor of mining and metallurgy at Stanford University. Later he became the dean of the engineering school. Theodore retired from Stanford University in 1936 at the age of 65.
The President's Brother
Being the brother of a president was not what most would have expected. Theodore wrote, “I suppose there has been no relative of any president of the United States who has received less benefit from the distinction of this relative than in my case. So far from having any benefit out of the situation it has only brought me expenses and knocks on the head; rotten press, publicity and other decided handicaps.”
Restoration of the President's Birthplace
During the restoration of Herbert Hoover's birthplace cottage, Lou Hoover sought the recollections of relatives and friends, including Theodore. Theodore’s memory of the little house differed from others'; he remembered the cottage having four rooms instead of two, with the back porch being enclosed for the additional two rooms.
Theodore Hoover died in 1955 at the age of 84.