Aug. 18, 1909 (Wednesday)
CHICAGO WOMAN FALLS FOR IDAHO SENATOR -- BECAUSE OF A PHOTOGRAPH: Today's Globe carries an intriguing story about the power of the photograph. This is a bit complicated... But here goes.
In Chicago, there was a "charming young widow" named Grace Hartman. She is described in the Globe as having "big dark eyes, masses of waving brown hair and superbly graceful figure."
She evidently was totally smitten by Sen. William Borah when she saw a photograph of him in a magazine.
Fortunately the Globe, unlike a number of other papers, included a photo of the senator, who was at the beginning of a long and distinguished career. Let the beholder decide: Is he good looking?
[For reference, I have included (in a column at right) a
sequence of photos of Borah. The top three of the photos stacked on the right date from 1912, 1916 and 1920. The bottom two show his appearances on the cover of Time magazine, on Jan. 26, 1931, and March 30, 1936.]
After seeing the photograph, she wrote Sen. Borah on Aug. 1 and asked him if he knew anybody in Idaho who might be a suitable romantic match for her. Among the qualifications she sought: "He must be a working man and wear overalls."
Well, here it is two weeks later and lots has happened. For one thing, the Globe says, the widow now maintains that the real object of her affection is Sen. Borah.
When interviewed on Aug. 16, she admitted, "I didn't really want him to get me a husband. i wanted Senator Borah himself. I thought that if in the manner I adopted his attention was called to me his soul must tell him of the yearning I felt. I thought there must be a response in the senator's soul... I will always love this photograph. How noble, how handsome, how full of divine love he looks."
It turns out that Borah actually put the word out in Idaho to let men know that a widow was looking for an Idahoan. She has received "scores of letters." The Globe quotes from some of them, with their names and hometowns:
William Horst, Nampa: "From the tone of your letter it seems that you must have loved some one desperately. Are you sure that love is obliterated and that you could honestly be devoted to another?" [The Globe rendered the home town as "Mampa."]
Oscar Johnson, Pocatello: "I will marry you if you are a working woman -- but ef you be an of these sossity dames I don't. Good by, write soon." [as it appears in the Globe.]
Edward J. Cornovan, Long Lake: "I am the man in the overalls. I am 'baching' on a 240-acre farm. If you really think a woman can love and labor at once, let us try it."
William Dittman, Taylor: "I have not much of a life to offer a woman. It is on the farm here. I rise at 2 a.m. and go harvesting. I don't get home until dark, and then I work two hours. I want a wife, but I can't see why any woman would want to share this life."
It's unclear what Ms. Harman will do. On the one hand, she says she "shall make a selection from among them." On the other hand, she says, "My little ruse has failed. I shall fall back upon my original love, the old picture in my writing desk. It's Senator Borah or no one."
By the way, the good senator was already married at the time.