Silverton’s Power Women

Announcing the Silverton Power Women collection! An initial series of six “collectors cards” highlighting notable females from of the Silverton Country. Featured are Silverton’s own Flora Davenport, Polly Coon-Price, Eva Coolidge, Flora Hoblitt, Zetta Schlador and Helen Kleeb. Each card features a photograph and brief biography. For now the cards are available at the Museum but will soon be at locations around town. A special thanks to past SCHS Board Member Molly Murphy for spearheading this project! You can read about these amazing local women below:

Eva Coolidge – Bank President

Eva CoolidgeBorn in the midst of the Victorian Age and passing away during the burgeoning Progressive Era, Eva Coolidge witnessed many changes during her lifetime. She was the daughter of Ai and Sarah Coolidge, prominent Silverton pioneers. Born in 1856, she was the second of six children. Not much is known of this child of privilege aside from an adventurous streak.

In 1883 she was with a party that rode up Mt. Hood on horseback to the snow line. In 1916, she reportedly bought a Velie (Vee-lee) automobile, certainly unusual for a woman of that era. Eva never married and was active in various civic affairs, including serving on a committee working to erect a proper monument to the political cartoonist Homer C. Davenport.

After the death of her father in 1908, she ultimately became president of Coolidge and McClaine Bank, co-founded by her father and Jake McClaine in 1880, becoming the only woman bank president in Oregon. She died suddenly in 1919 of a brain aneurysm, six months before her 63rd birthday.

Flora Davenport – Homer Davenport’s Mother

Florinda DavenportFlorinda Geer Davenport was born in 1839 to Ralph and Mary Geer. Known as Flora, she and her family traveled the Oregon Trail in 1847 where her father set up a successful pear and apple nursery on a farm four miles south of Silverton. In 1854 she met and soon married Timothy W. Davenport, a pioneer farmer, surveyor and future politician.

Their first two children died prematurely, with only Orla surviving by the time Homer, was born in 1867. During this time Flora discovered the cartoons of Thomas Nast, the most famous political cartoonist of the day. She was convinced that Homer had an innate artistic talent, which did in fact show itself in Homer by age 3½. She encouraged Homer to draw at every turn until her untimely death from small pox in the early 1870s. On her deathbed she wished that Homer be given every opportunity to develop his artistic skills.

This prompted the family move into Silverton, where Homer continued to cultivate his talent, eventually becoming one of America’s prominent cartoonists, all of it a result of a loving mother’s dying wish.

Flora Hoblitt – Dean of Valley Newspaperwomen

Flora HoblittThe “Dean of Valley Newspaper Women,” Flora F. Hoblitt, was born in 1877 in rural Wisconsin. Educated in Minnesota and graduating from Oberlin College in Ohio, she became a teacher well trained in languages and the classics. In 1902, while teaching in Minnesota, she met and married John Hoblitt, the operator of a weekly newspaper.

After they moved to Silverton in 1909, John began working for the Silvertonian Appeal, renamed the Silverton Appeal after the couple bought the paper in 1914. Flora would work for the paper, known as the Silverton Appeal-Tribune after the 1930 purchase of the Tribune, in various capacities for the next 44 years. She raised three sons and was active in many church and civic activities.

At the death of her husband in 1946, she became co-editor of the paper with her son, Mahlon. Known for her fairness and accuracy in her writing, she left a lasting legacy in a series of Silverton historical vignettes published during the 1954 Centennial that have been made into a booklet. Flora Hoblitt died in 1958 at age 81.

Helen Kleeb – Film, Radio & Television Actress

Helen KleebHelen Kleeb was born in South Bend, Washington, U.S. on January 6, 1907. She and her family moved to Silverton when she was a pre-teen, where she graduated from Silverton High School in 1924. In a career covering nearly fifty years, she may be best known for her role from 1972 to 1981 as “Miss Mamie Baldwin” on CBS’s family drama, The Waltons.

From 1949–1951, she performed voices for the Candy Matson radio program. In 1956–1957, Kleeb guest-starred on CBS’s Hey, Jeannie!, starring Jeannie Carson. She played The Witch on Stan Freberg’s Oregon Oregon 1959 Centennial record, and Betsy Ross on his satirical musical vinyl LP Freberg Presents the History of the United States of America.

She appeared in episodes on TV shows, Dennis the Menace, I Love Lucy, Death Valley Days, Get Smart, and The Golden Girls as well as in small film roles in The Manchurian Candidate, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte and Seven Days in May. She died on December 28, 2003, nine days before her 97th birthday, in Los Angeles, California.

Polly Coon-Price – Silverton’s Founding Mother

Polly Crandall Coon PriceWhen asked to name the ten platted blocks she hoped to sell after her husband’s death, Silverton’s founding mother replied “Silverton,” for the creek that ran adjacent to the plat. Thus, in 1854 the little town with the giant oak tree in the middle of Main Street was born. The oldest of ten children, was born Polly Lavinia Crandall in 1825 in New York.

The family moved to Wisconsin, where they farmed for ten years. Polly became a teacher and eventually married another teacher, Thomas Coon, who, in 1850 traveled west to teach in the Willamette Valley. Sometime later, Polly and her daughter traveled to Oregon via the Barlow Road to join Thomas who unfortunately died soon after his family’s arrival and before the birth of his second child.

After Thomas’s death in 1854, part of his donation land claim was surveyed and broken down into lots. In 1855 Polly married Stephen Price, a millwright, with whom she had a son. Continuing her lifelong interest in schools, Polly Crandall Coon Price ultimately died in 1898 at age 72. She is buried in Hood River.

Zetta Schlador – Silverton’s Lady Mayor

Zetta SchladorMayoress Takes Office Jan. 9, 1938 proclaimed the headline heralding the new administration of Zetta White Schlador, the first and only woman mayor Silverton has ever had. One of eight children, Zetta was born in 1888 on the family farm near Monitor, where she spent her early years before marrying Cal Schlador and moving to Silverton.

In 1925 Zetta opened the Women’s Specialty Shop, a dress store, on East Main Street. While serving as president of the Chamber of Commerce she was elected mayor of Silverton in 1938. During her two, one year, terms she worked on projects including the local airport, the sewage system, and the new community swimming pool. During her administration, and after a clash with the all-male city council, police officers were required to wear uniforms for the first time.

As a tribute to her many years of civic involvement, the street in front of the new high school, constructed between Brown and James Streets, was named Schlador Street in her honor. Zetta passed away in 1978 at the age of ninety.