Quiz Bio: Nellie Taft

Nellie Taft (02 Jun 1861 – 22 May 1943) was born into a life of presidency. Her father knew both Rutherford B. Hayes and Benjamin Harrison, both Cincy boys, and the men in her mother’s family were Congressmen. Nellie attended the Miss Nourse School, run by a family member of Elizabeth Nourse. At 18, Nellie met William Howard Taft, and history was made. Nellie taught in the meantime as a French teacher. She should be the one getting everything in Cincinnati named after her. We owe a lot of our city’s defining features and culture to her dedication to the arts, including the formation of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (of which she was an active board member). With all of her husband’s appointments worldwide, Nellie learned politics, understood local customs and made many friends. Nellie was deeply influential in national politics, as she was in all other aspects of her life. As First Lady, Nellie brought music to the White House, attended cabinet meetings, and had the cherry trees planted around the basin by the Jefferson Memorial (even planting the first two herself). Like a boss. WCPO reports, “Nellie Taft enjoyed racy theater productions, played poker for money, smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol, sometimes on Sundays. She brought the champagne punch bowl back into the White House at a time when the temperance movement was preparing to peak with Prohibition.” Nellie was the first woman to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.