100 Years Ago: President and Mrs. Taft Dine at Knox Residence

An interesting society section article in the Washington Post from January 5th, 1912 (I know I’m a day late. I started this last night and set it to post today) mentions that President William Howard Taft — the heaviest president we’ve ever had the pleasure of electing — had dinner the night before at his Secretary of State’s home. Secretary Philander C. Knox and his wife hosted the first couple in the annual winter dinner of cabinet officers, honoring the President and Mrs. Taft (clearly not a tradition that survived across administrations). Below is the excerpt from the Post.

The President and Mrs. Taft were guests at dinner last night of the Secretary of State and Mrs. Knox at their home on K street. The dinner was the first in the series given every winter by cabinet officers in honor of the President and Mrs. Taft. The home of the Secretary and Mrs. Knox, which is one of the handsomest official residences in Washington, was decorated last night with orchids.

The other guests were the British Ambassador and Mrs. Bryce, the German Ambassador and Countess von Bernstorff, the Italian Ambassador and Marchioness Cusani, the Russian Ambassador and Mme. Bakhmeteff, Mr. Justice McKenna and Mrs. McKenna, Senator and Mrs. Warren, Senator and Mrs. Bailey, Mrs. Garrison McClintock, Mr. Horace Taft, and Mr. and Mrs. Hugh S. Knox.

That is an impressive guest list. I’d love to be a fly on the wall at that dinner. I added photos of some of the guests below.

On a more local and little less presidential level, this one caught my eye.

Mr. and Mrs. William Jones have sent out cards for Friday evening, January 12, from 9 until 11 o’clock, at 1709 Q street, where they will introduce their daughter, Miss Anne Seymour Jones. Mrs. Jones and Miss Jones will be at home the third, fourth, and fifth Tuesdays in January.

Turns out that this is William Atkinson Jones, a Member of Congress from the Virginia’s 1st District (covering Fredericksburg and some of Newport News). The Jones family was introducing their daughter to D.C. society, likely in the hopes of finding her a husband.

By the way, here is another interesting (and quite macabre) story that happened at 1709 Q street. Seriously, this one is kind of hard to believe.

A couple of years later, Anne was successful in finding herself military man by the name of Lieutenant S. Roland Hopkins, who was stationed at Fort Myer. Fredericksburg’s Free Lance-Star had the engagement announcement in their paper on February 27th, 1915.

Representative and Mrs. William A Jones of Virginia, announce the engagement of their daughter, Miss Anne Seymour Jones, to Lieut. S. Roland Hopkins, Third Field Artillery U.S. Army, now station [sic] at Fort Myer.

The announcement was made at a luncheon in Washington Thursday to a number of close friends, through the happy medium of ices made in the form of engagement rings, with Cupid perched on the rim. This, of course, gave the secret away and the prospective bride was overwhelmed with congratulations and good wishes.

Also, in other world news, January 5th was the beginning of the Prague Party Conference. The significance of this is that this is when Vladimir Lenin and his supporters broke away from the Russian Socialist Democratic Labour Party to form their own, purely Bolshevik party. The Russian Revolution in 1917 led to Ambassador Bakhmeteff being forced to resign his post.

Ambassador George Bakhmeteff standing alongside carriage on which his wife is seated, with dog
Ambassador George Bakhmeteff standing alongside carriage on which his wife is seated, with dog
English: Philander Chase Knox.
Secretery of State Philander C. Knox
William Howard Taft (Bones 1878), son of the s...
President William Howard Taft
Helen Herron Taft
First Lady Helen Herron Taft

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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