By Beverly Clinkingbeard
Recently, in faraway New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his candidacy for President of the United States of America. He is a Progressive Democrat, and one of several that will be stumping the campaign trail. But of all things, some folks in Blanchard, Iowa/Missouri, have taken a bit of an interest in this candidate, though not necessarily due to his politically self-proclaimed liberal and progressive position.
Does he know of Blanchard? Indeed, he has indicated he does and credits a great-grandfather’s stint as Blanchard’s mayor (1892) as contributing to his interest and heritage in politics. This is where a disclaimer must be issued. The following is neither intended to influence an “aye” or “nay” for this particular candidate – it is more like a sort of interesting connection.
The former Blanchard mayor was Solomon Warren. When he was mayor of Blanchard the population was probably 400 plus people. There were new houses being built, the railroad a very busy line, there was the elevator and Danner Mills, stores were being erected on both sides of Main Street, and they were of brick and mortar. The Ridgeway Lumber Company would have been a busy place as was the Ridgeway Brick Factory. There was a cheese factory and new ideas and businesses sprouting up, plus a new school and five churches.
Solomon Warren was born in Ohio (1849-1939) and in the census of 1895 (yes, there was an Iowa census in off-year 1895), he was 46 years old and a resident of Blanchard, Iowa. He had served in Company K, Ohio, 182nd Infantry Regiment as a Union soldier in the Civil War. Solomon married Emma Jane Prettyman (1854-1938). His occupation in Ohio is listed as a farmer. Their children: Forrest Prettyman (1874-1875); Winifred Warren (1876); Horace Prettyman (born 1879 in Defiance, Ohio); Weldon Harrison (born 1881); Nina May (1888-1974); and Clara Pauline, (1895-1961, born in Blanchard, Iowa).
Two of Solomon and Emma Jane’s children, Horace and Winifred, were members of Blanchard High School’s first graduating class, 1896. This many years later it is not remembered what house Solomon Warren’s family lived in or how he made his living while in Blanchard. The Warrens were members of the Blanchard Methodist Church.
The Warren family moved to Lancaster, Nebraska, possibly following Winifred and Horace’s high school graduation, so they could attend the University of Nebraska. In the 1900 census, Solomon’s occupation is listed as a traveling coffee salesman and Winifred is listed as a music teacher.
In 1911, Horace lived in New York and other family members were also living in the eastern USA. Horace studied civil engineering at the university and worked on rebuilding the Panama Railroad, as well as other engineering projects abroad, and his reputation as an engineer was well-known to the world. He traveled extensively sailing on ocean liners.
In 1938, Horace attended the Blanchard High School Alumni gathering and Horace and Winifred also attended the alumni gathering in 1956. At that time Horace was living in Palo Alto, California, and Winifred in Connecticut.
The mayor’s paternal grandfather, Donald Wilhelm, is a Harvard graduate and author of nine books. He also collaborated with F.D. Roosevelt for a Saturday Evening Post article. Mayor de Blasio’s mother, Maria de Blasio Wilhelm, is a writer and published, “The Other Italy: The Italian Resistance in WWII.”
Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, who is one of 20 Democratic presidential candidates, was born in Brooklyn, New York, 1961, to Maria Angela de Blasio and Warren Wilhelm, a Yale graduate and WWII veteran. They christened their new son, Warren Wilhelm, Jr. Later, they divorced and the mayor’s childhood was among his mother’s Italian family. He speaks fluent Italian. In 2002, the mayor officially took his mother’s maiden name de Blasio. According to the record, he is married to an African-American writer, Chirlane McCray, who embraced lesbianism prior to meeting her husband, Bill. They have two young adult children and live in Gracie Mansion, an official residence and museum for New York City mayors.
Mayor de Blasio is a graduate of New York University and Columbia University, New York. He became known in political circles when he helped with Mayor Dinkin’s campaign, then led Bill Clinton’s presidential election in New York and managed Hillary Clinton’s 2000 senate race in New York. He threw his support behind Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy and helped carry New York State for her. He describes himself as a liberal progressive, likes to use Twitter, and has changed his name three times.
In the first and recent Democratic Party debate, de Blasio participated. As a side note, it seemed strange the news anchors did not pose a question regarding the national debt and one could only wonder how the candidates thought they were going to pay for all they promised to do. But, perhaps no worries. The mayor said, “…there’s plenty of money in this country. It’s just in the wrong hands. Democrats have to fix that.”
The candidates are beginning to stump in Iowa. Will de Blasio make Blanchard a campaign stop? Only time will tell. With our absence of voters (due to a lack of population), campaign planners may opt for showcasing him in more populace areas.
Meanwhile, maybe Blanchard should set aside any biased political leanings (should there be some) and look for a welcome mat in the event there is a possibility of entertaining a political candidate.
‘Til next time.