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It’s easy to imagine the Oliver family anxiously, but proudly awaiting to shake hands with President Theodore Roosevelt. They were surely stimulated by the fanfare and bombastic music of the marine band proceeding along side them. The diary of my great-great grandmother, Kate, provides one account of the event, while another comes from her husband B.P. Oliver’s exchange with a New York Reporter, highlighted in an article on the front page of the San Francisco Call. The Oliver family spent five days enjoying the national landmarks in Washington D.C. and were well accustomed to the traveling lifestyle. The occasion that brought the family to the White House was a convention for the American Banker’s Association held on 8 Oct 1905 in the White House.[1] On that day, the Oliver family arrived at the president’s home and first proceeded through the hall where portraits of former first ladies grace the walls of the White House.

Led by the youngest child, that being six year old John, the Oliver family lined up to shake hands with Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt. One by one, the Oliver children and their parents were cordially greeted by the President and his wife. When B.P. arrived to shake hands with the president, Roosevelt exclaimed, “And these are Olivers!” to which Mr. Oliver answered, “Yes! Mr. President, but you have not met them all yet, there are eight of them.” Roosevelt replied with enthusiasm, “Eight!” and in a very enthusiastic manner, proclaimed, “My, that is fine. I propose three cheers for Mr. Oliver.”[2]

Theodore_Roosevelt_laughing

Theodore Roosevelt laughing.

Source: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Without quite understanding what the president proclaimed cheers for, the rest of the bankers in the hall took after the president and gave their three cheers as instructed. Why was the president so delighted to meet the Oliver family and share his excitement? B.P. Oliver told the reporter that after the whole family shook hands with the president, Roosevelt said, “Well, well; you are to be congratulated. This a family after my own heart.”[3] Slight discrepancies arise from the account in Kate’s diary, who claims that a friend identified as “Mrs. Power” commented that after the Oliver family had passed on into the reception hall, Mr. Roosevelt commented that “we were a family after his own heart.” This delighted Kate very much, prompting her to write in her diary, “I felt so elated, as if I had been born in this moment.”[4]

bpandkatherineoliver

Bartholomew Patrick and Kate Connor Oliver.

Source: Author’s Archives.

B.P. Oliver owned a large real estate company named “B.P. Oliver Inc.”, which had it’s headquarters at 100 Montgomery Street in San Francisco. B.P. Oliver and his uncle Denis J. Oliver were very influential in the Irish-Catholic community of San Francisco, causing one historian to even draw comparisons to the Kennedy family[5] They were very much considered part of the establishment in San Francisco’s early history for their contributions to the church and the city’s development.

About a week after the convention, B.P. Oliver spoke with reporters in New York City where he recounted the details, leading to article on the front page of the San Francisco Call, published 16 Oct 1905. Surely, the wording and exact details of the interaction do have discrepancies between Mr. Oliver’s account in the newspaper and the diary of Kate Oliver written some years later, but they both make it clear that the president was delighted to meet the Olivers and saw a positive reflection of his own family in them. Mr. Oliver admits to the reporter that he was taken aback by Roosevelt’s enthusiasm, for he could tell that the other bankers did not quite understand what the cheers were for. In any event, B.P. saw that it was the president’s way of delivering a huge compliment:

 

“The call was heard all over the reception room. The surprised bankers who stood around did not know what was going on, but gave the cheers, anyhow. I felt as first as though I would rather be most anywhere else, but in a moment I concluded that it was a fine compliment and proceeded to feel elated.”[6]

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San Francisco Call, Monday, 16 Sep 1905.

Source: California Digital Newspaper Collection

This certainly was a great day for the Oliver family and I’m happy to be sharing this moment in our family history to readers.

 

[1] Articles in Washington Times and Evening Star provide many details about the activities and programs during the convention. See Library of Congress, “Chronicling America”: accessed at http://www.chroniclingamerica.loc.gov

[2] Kate Oliver’s diary remembers the language of the event somewhat differently. According to Kate, When B.P. arrived to shake hands with the president, Roosevelt exclaimed, “And these are Olivers” to which Mr. Oliver answered, “Yes! Mr. President, this is my wife and eight children.” Roosevelt, in a very robust manner, shouted, “Bully! Here are three cheers for the Oliver family!” See Shelby Pike, ed. “Diary of Kate Connor Oliver,” p. 40: accessed at https://fletcherfamilytree.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/diary-of-katherine-connor/

[3] “Delighted By Act of President.” The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, CA), Monday, 16 Sep 1905, page 1: accessed at California Digital Newspaper Collection.

[4] Shelby Pike, ed. “Diary of Kate Connor Oliver,” 40.

[5] James O. Clifford Sr. “Kate’s Redwood City “Royal” Wedding.” The Journal of Local History (Summer 2011), Vol.3, no.3, 8.

[6] “Delighted By Act of President.” The San Francisco Call, Monday, 16 Sep 1905, page 1.

Copyright (c) 2016 Jake Fletcher.

Jake Fletcher, “Three Cheers: How The Oliver Family Met Teddy Roosevelt.” Travelogues of a Genealogist, posted 6 Mar 2016: accessed at https://fletcherfamilytree.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/three-cheers-how-the-oliver-family-met-theodore-roosevelt

 

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