Monday, August 9, 2021

Presidential Bride: Marrying the President of the US

 By Tiffany Amber Stockton

Last month, the story of how my great-grandfather came to be sending clams and oysters to the White House during President Wilson's presidency received featured recognition here.

If you missed last month's post, you can view it here:

This month, I'll be delving further into my great-grandfather's 1st cousin by marriage, Edith Bolling Galt, the woman responsible for my White House connections. *grins*

EDITH BOLLING GALT WILSON -- 1st Lady and Washington Elite Society member

Edith Bolling Galt Wilson
I grew up hearing stories of my great-grandfather's 1st cousin and how I was loosely connected to United States "royalty." So much of that part of my family seemed like nothing more than an entertaining bedtime story. That is, until I went to college with a minor in history and became an author of historical fiction just six years after graduation. Details left out or forgotten in my childhood mind became somewhat of a passion for me.

It wasn't until recently, with the research associated with the series I'm pitching that's set on Chincoteague Island, that I realized just how fascinating my family history is on my mother's side of the family. My father's might be fascinating as well but with so many deaths during World War I and the Influenza Epidemic, specifics and details are quite difficult to find. I won't give up, though. For now, it's the family history I can research a bit more easily.

Galt & Bro. Jewelers
Edith Bolling was a descendant of Virginia aristocracy, so it's only natural that she remained immersed in elite society, wherever her life took her. She was born the 7th of 11th children in Wytheville in 1872. Her life intersected with my family history in 1895 when she visited one of her married sisters in Washington and met a businessman named Norman Galt (my great-grandfather's 1st cousin), who was the current owner of Galt & Bro. Jewelers, established in 1802.

Edith and Norman married in 1896 and she lived happily for 12 years. In 1908, Norman died unexpectedly, but Edith Galt chose a fantastic manager who operated the family's jewelry firm with financial success, giving her a good dose of added business sense which would serve her well for what was to come. Her shrewd decision is what helped that business continue serving the elite members of Washington society and politicians for 200 years, leading it to be Washington's oldest established business in the District.

President Woodrow Wilson &
Edith Bolling Galt Wilson
Edith & Woodrow Wilson
Valentine depiction
By a quirk of fate and a chain of friendships, Edith met the bereaved President Wilson in 1914, just 8 months after his beloved wife's passing. The president was still mourning profoundly for his first wife, but he took an instant liking to Edith, and that soon changed to love. Unlike Wilson's first wife who was shy and avoided politics, Edith shared Wilson's passion, leading to a whirlwind courtship and marriage. When he proposed, he said "in this place, time is not measured by weeks, or months, or years, but by deep human experiences..." They were married privately on December 18, 1915, at her home.

Remember, I mentioned above how Edith was descended from Virginia aristocracy? Well, that family legacy, upbringing, and culture prepared her quite well for the role of hostess as the new First Lady. Unfortunately, the war in Europe overshadowed just about everything else. Edith jumped right in and became a true helpmate to the President, working hard to keep him fit under tremendous strain.

President Woodrow Wilson
When a stroke left the President partly paralyzed in September 1919, this is where Edith stepped into her chosen role as First Lady and gained unusual significance through her hard work and support of her husband. Legend has labeled Edith as a "secret president" or even the "first woman to run the U.S. government." But according to Edith, considered her work as her "stewardship."

Edith Galt Wilson walking confidently
with her husband and security detail
She didn't try to control the executive branch, initiate programs, or make major decisions. She merely took over many routine duties and details, selected matters for her husband's attention, and let everything else go to the heads of departments or remain in abeyance. Everything she did was in full partnership with her husband, and it was done out of her deep and abiding love for him. I can only imagine how I'd handle such a responsibility! That oft-spoken inspirational quote, "God doesn't call the qualified; He qualifies the called" runs through my mind right now. Oh, to have been able to sit down and talk with Edith after her time as First Lady passed.

In 1921, the Wilsons retired to a comfortable home in Washington, where he died three years later. A highly respected figure in the society of the capital, Mrs. Wilson lived on to ride in President Kennedy's inaugural parade. She died later in 1961: on December 28, the anniversary of her famous husband's birth.

front face of $10 gold coin
rear face of $10 gold coin
I mentioned this last month, but as I featured Edith more thoroughly this month, I felt it bore mentioning again.

There was a $10 gold coin struck in the U.S. Mint at West Point commemorating Edith Wilson's time as First Lady. It was released in 2013, but uncirculated. The front is a replica of a sculpting done of Edith, and the back symbolizes Edith's support of President Wilson following his stroke. Her hand is resting atop his as he holds his cane.

I just love the symbolism of that image depicted. It would be an amazing keepsake to add to my heirloom and legacy collection, wouldn't you agree? With my 40th birthday coming in just 3 weeks, I'm going to try hard to find it for a birthday present. Will update you in next month's post.


* Do you have anything that has been passed down to you along the family line from generation to generation? What is it, and why is it so special?

* What would YOU have done in Edith's shoes as First Lady with the President partly paralyzed following a stroke?

* Select one unique fact from the post above that stood out to you and share why it appealed to you.

Leave answers to these questions or any comments on the post below. Next month, I'll be returning to the stories and history on Chincoteague Island. Come back on the 9th of September to find out more.


Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having a very active imagination and cited with talking entirely too much. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning, best-selling author and speaker who is also an advocate for literacy as an educational consultant with Usborne Books. She loves to share life-changing products and ideas with others to help better their lives.

She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, along with their two children, two dogs, and two cats in Colorado. She has sold twenty-four (24) books so far and is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. You can find her on Facebook and GoodReads.


  1. Thanks for continuing this story. I love that coin as well! I think it's remarkable that the First Lady was able to maneuver around the government bureaucracy to get the President's work done, and you don't mention that she annoyed anyone!

  2. Thank you for more wonderful history! I love the coin as well and hope you manage to get one :).