What’s in a name – first week of December 2008

After the Whalen’s birthday party, I plow through the inbox. The day before the party, Mary Habstritt, wife of Gerry Weinstein, and President of the national Society of Industrial Archeology, had sent an email:

"I was boning up on history of Whalen and saw that her old name S.T. Kiddoo was a mystery. I searched just the last name and got several threads about the surname on www.Ancestry.com that mentioned A history of the Kiddoo family in the United States, 1780-1981 which is full text on the Brigham Young University libraries digital collections site. On p. 188, it tells of a Solomon Thomas Kiddoo (1883-1965) who, after a career in banking in, of all places, Wall SD, became Secretary-Treasury of Fairbanks Morse. Hmmm. I think it cannot be a coincidence that the ship had the same name as an officer of Fairbanks Morse and the ship has a FM engine."

Bingo! We also know that Bushey was a distributor of Fairbanks Morse engines, so we are quite sure this is the person for whom the Mary A. Whalen was first named.

This is a lesson in the limitations of google (a reminder to myself not to work like the 20-somethings I lamented earlier.) In 2005, I had googled “S.T. Kiddoo” extensively looking for some history to explain the name, hoping to find some history that would make saving a tanker more Historic, that would appeal to preservationists. I’d found one S.T. Kiddoo in South Dakota in the teens heading some local banking society. I never included the link as South Dakota seemed so far from the sea, and the citation was 20 years before the tanker was built. Funny; that WAS was the same man as the tanker. By now, google has much more up about Mr. Solomon T. Kiddoo; old records are coming on line. Now, if they will just help us learn more about the woman Mary A. Whalen.