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Friday, May 16, 2014

Carolyn Shelton Marries Former Oregon Senator George Chamberlain in 1926

I've been posting information on Carolyn Shelton, Oregon's "acting governor" in 1909 and private secretary to Oregon senator and former governor George Earle Chamberlain.

When private secretary to Governor Chamberlain, Shelton took on the role of hosting many official state events. Sallie Newman Welch Chamberlain, George Chamberlain's wife, preferred to remain in Portland caring for the couple's children.

Shelton went to Washington, D.C. in 1909 after her three-day job as Oregon's acting governor to continue working with Chamberlain. District of Columbia death records on ancestry.com list Sallie Chamberlain's death at age 69 on May 26, 1925. Carolyn Shelton married George Chamberlain over a year later on July 12, 1926.

Press coverage in the Oregonian and Washington Post of the wedding of Shelton to her boss and former U.S. senator from Oregon provides interesting details. But only the Oregonian mentioned her role as Oregon's first female "acting governor."

The Oregonian provided much more coverage of Shelton than of her new husband in a front page story the day after the wedding.
"George Chamberlain Weds Mrs. Shelton," Oregonian, July 13, 1926, 1.



The Oregonian recounted Shelton's career and noted that she had "served as governor a few days" when Chamberlain had left to begin his job representing Oregon in the senate in 1909. The editors noted her accomplishments in Washington, D.C., including "responsible positions with leading senate committees under the direction of the senator." Shelton had "many friends in Portland." Chamberlain's son Charles, a physician in Portland, didn't yet have word of the marriage when reporters contacted him but "was not surprised as the event had been expected."

Coverage of the wedding in the Washington Post gives more detail about the event, but emphasized information about George Chamberlain's career. The Post gave no hint that Shelton had served as acting governor of Oregon.
"Chamberlain, Former Oregon Senator, Weds," Washington Post, July 13, 1926, 5.
We learn that Chamberlain obtained a marriage license "without any one being aware of his identity" and that the couple was married quietly with a honeymoon planned for Virginia Beach.

Some final information about Shelton coming in the next post.

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