Saturday, December 28, 2013



Staunton, Virginia(JFK+50) Thomas Woodrow Wilson, who was to become the 28th president of the United States, was born 157 years ago, December 28, 1856, here in Staunton*.

The future president was born at 12:45 a.m., delivered by Dr. James Waddell,  who most likely arrived as a light snow was falling in town.

The birthplace of Woodrow Wilson, now a national historic site, is located on North Coalter Street "sitting atop the crest in...Staunton's Gospel Hill...district."

Woodrow Wilson Birthplace
Staunton, Virginia 
Photo by Quarterczar
English Wikipedia (2007)

The home, at the time of Wilson's birth, was called a manse, or the residence of the town's Presbyterian minister who just happened to be Woodrow's father, Rev. Joseph Ruggles Wilson, a founder of the Southern Presbyterian Church.

The elder Mr. Wilson came to Staunton in December 1854 and occupied the Greek Revival brick manse with 12 rooms and 4 chimneys.

The Woodrow Wilson Birthplace Foundation was founded in 1938 and the old manse underwent restoration in 1940 and 1941.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled to Staunton in May 1941 to dedicate Woodrow Wilson's birthplace.  FDR called it "a shrine to freedom."

Woodrow's grandparents immigrated from Ireland in 1807 and his mother's father, also a minister, was born in Scotland.

Joseph Wilson, before entering the ministry, was a newspaper publisher in Ohio and when he moved his family to Virginia, he became a slave owner and served as a Confederate chaplain.

Woodrow Wilson spent his childhood years in Augusta, Georgia.  He did not learn to read until the age of 10 perhaps due to dyslexia.  The family moved to Columbia, South Carolina in 1870 and Woodrow lived there for 4 years.

Woodrow was an accomplished student.  He graduated from Princeton in 1879 and attended the University of Virginia School of Law before practicing in Atlanta.  

He then entered Johns Hopkins University in 1883 and earned his PhD in history and political science in 1886.

Before being elected POTUS in 1912, WW served as president of Princeton University and Governor of New Jersey.  

On display at the WW Birthplace is Mr. Wilson's prized 1919 Pierce Arrow.

Mr. Wilson's 1919 Pierce Arrow
Woodrow Wilson Birthplace
Staunton, Virginia
Photo by Tickleangelo
en.wikipedia (2007)

President Wilson loved automobile rides, bicycling and baseball.  He was the 1st president to attend a World Series game and to throw out the ceremonial 1st pitch at the WS.

After leaving the White House, the ailing former president moved into a new residence in Washington, D.C. where he died in 1924.

*Staunton, pronounced stan ton, is located in Augusta County in the NW part of Virginia.  The town is known as the "Queen of the Shenandoah Valley."

Downtown Staunton, Virginia
Photo by henristosch (2005)