Manning, Iowa Mayor Albert Wiese

This research on 1933 Mayor Albert Wiese is in an attempt to determine his response to the telegram sent by Miss America Pageant Director Armand Nichols, requesting verification that Eleanor Dankenbring was a resident of Manning in 1933.

Albert Wiese of Manning, Iowa

1930 Wiese census data
In September 1933, Manning mayor Albert Wiese was 48 years old, married 20 years with no children, with seven living siblings. He was born in June 1885 in Iowa, and his parents were born in Germany. Curiously, Albert Wiese is listed as having no occupation on either the 1930 or 1920 census.

Albert Wiese, cashier in the Bank of Manning ~1910s
In 1910, Albert was 25, single, a cashier at the bank of Manning, and living with his widowed mother Margareta, age 65, the mother of 11 children (8 still living). She had immigrated in 1865 from Germany. In 1900, he was living with his widowed mother (mother of 11, 9 still living) and his sister. His mother was born November, 1844. Albert is listed as having been born in June, 1885 on this census.

In 1880, five years before Albert was born, his family lived in Crawford County, IA (note: there is no 1890 census available). His father, Detlef Wiese, is 40, born in Holstein Germany as was his mother. They have 8 children (including newborn Theresa who is on the 1900 and 1930 census with her mother, and Agnes, Frank, Eddie, Annie, Adam, Charley, and Randolf, ages 5-15). Although Detlef lived in Hayes township, Crawford county in 1880, which abuts Carroll County (about 10 miles from Manning), they lived in Clinton County, 200 miles East, in 1870/p.2. It is unknown when Albert's father Detlef dies between 1885 and 1900.

"My great-grandfather left Germany in 1840 and settled near Davenport. His son Detlef Wiese came to Westside by horseback in 1860 to stake out land for three of his brothers and himself. The land was recorded and Detlef rode back to Davenport to report to his family. They loaded a prairie schooner and left for the new land they had claimed. It took them three months to get here, because there were no roads or bridges, and they had to chop down trees and make rafts to cross the rivers. They settled two miles north of the Five Mile House, choosing this area because there were trees already growing there while further south there was nothing but prairie grass." -- David Kusel, Manning Historian

Manning Mayor Albert Wiese

On February 2, 1933, due to uneasy rumors and heavy withdrawals, Mayor A.D. Wiese of Manning issued a proclamation declaring a "bank holiday" from January 30 to February 13 for the two local banks, the First National and the Manning Trust & Savings.

January 30, 1933 proclamation by Mayor Wiese
To the Citizens of Manning and Community:
        Whereas, the continued depression has created a severe strain upon all classes of our local people and upon all business and farming as reflected in our local banking, and
        Whereas, the welfare of the entire local community is to a great extent dependent upon the continued and successful operation of our local banks, so that they may not need to resort to unduly severe measures of collecting in their bank loans and thereby cause economic harm to our local borrowers and to our local community, and
        Whereas, at no time within the memory of this generation has it been more essential to farmers and to business men to have local finance their operations and such financial aid may be impossible if the depositors call for their money faster than our local banks can orderly collect in their local loans, and
        Whereas, no economic distress has ever stricken the nation and even the world with violence that this one has, nor caused the fear and unrest among our citizens; an unrest that upon some occasions has been accentuated because of unfounded and insidious or unfair rumors circulated without good reason, some times thoughtlessly, sometimes perhaps intentionally among our people, all of which can leave its effects upon our local business and farming life and can threaten the very welfare of our people and of our community, and
        Whereas, it is necessary that each and every local community, in whatever manner that may seem most fitting and best so to do, endeavor to maintain the peace of mind, the general welfare and the tranquility of its people, and
        Whereas, it is desirable that the people of this community abstain from their usual employment insofar as they may find it convenient and expedient for them so to do in order to give thought and counsel at this time with each other for their mutual welfare and prosperity.
        Now therefore, I, Albert D. Wiese, Mayor of the town of Manning, Iowa, by virtue of the authority in me vested, do hereby proclaim and declare the two weeks' period commencing Monday January 30, 1933 and extending to and inclusive of Monday February 13, 1933 to be a BANKING HOLIDAY, and as well a PUBLIC HOLIDAY generally for all other places of business insofar as such other places of business may find it expedient and convenient for them to observe.
        And further, as mayor of this town and vitally interested in its local welfare, I do further advise and admonish all people of this community to take personal interest in the present temporary and regrettable local situation and lend their best efforts and their good influence to the helpful solution of our local problem.
        In Testimony Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of said town to be hereunto affixed this 30th day of January A.D. 1933.
        A.D Wiese, Mayor of Manning, Iowa.
        Attest: Orlo V. Schelldorf, Clerk.

"A group of prominent local businessmen formed a committee to promote the signing of a depositors' agreement whereby a depositor in either bank would agree to leave 60% of his deposit with accrued interest until such time as the trustees felt the crisis was over, but no longer than until February 1, 1936. The remaining 40% would be assigned to the trustees to purchase the assets and keep the banks open. The committee was composed of Dr. O.W. Wyatt, J.R. Hansen, J.A. Bruck, Dr. J.J. Sinn, G.A. Rober, Albert Dietz, H.E. Kuhl, F.D. Ross, W.E. Sander, and M.F. Enenbach. Mayor A.D. Wiese served as chairman and J.R. Hansen was secretary." -- Manning Centennial Book, 1881-1981.

The Mayor's telegram to the Miss America Pageant

The interest in Albert Wiese is to determine why he did not affirm that Eleanor was a resident of Manning as requested by the telegram sent to him by Miss America Pageant Director Armand Nichols. To be precise, it is not clear if he never responded, responded too late, or responded that she was not a resident. It would appear from the Atlantic City newspaper accounts below that the telegrams were sent out on Day 2 or 3, and while the newspaper states that the Manning Mayor's return telegram was not received by a "late hour" on Day 4, telegrams were delivered 7 days a week, and therefore it is likely Eleanor would have been added back onto the ballot if the telegram had been received on Day 5 (Saturday) as well.

Atlantic City newspapers report conflicting information on the telegrams; the newspapers for Day 3 reported the telegrams were to parents and home state sponsors, while the Day 4 newspaper report was that the telegrams were specifically to the Mayors -- it is assumed the telegrams were sent to the Mayors. However, it is curious that in both accounts Director Armand Nichols himself was quoted:

Friday, Sep 8 (Day 4 newspaper reporting on Day 3 events):
         And while the selections were being made, Armand T. Nichols, director general of the pageant, announced that a conference would be held in his office at 10 am this morning to made final disposition of charges brought against the residence qualifications of three entrants whose names have not been revealed.
         Reports spread through the Auditorium that the girls were "Miss Idaho," Margaret Whitman; "Miss Iowa," Eleanor Dankenbring; "Miss Illinois," Lillian Kroener, which were denied, however, byy [sic] their escorts, and Mr. Nichols refused to identify them.
         While the charges were not revealed, it was learned that a theatrical concern, sponsoring a pair of eastern beauties, had charged that the three western girls did not live in the states they represented.
Nichols Awaits Telegrams
         Mr. Nichols said that he was awaiting telegrams from parents of the accused girls and from their home state sponsors to officially refute the charges. Earlier he had announced three he did not name had been disqualified in judging.
         Hal Oliver, Publicity Director for RKO, reported to have made the charges against the three girls, would not talk. He simply said he was here on a vacation and would offer a contract to the new Miss America. ,,,

Saturday, Sep 9 (Day 5 newspaper reporting on Day 4 events):
         The 'three girls' were disqualified because they do not reside in the state they represent, and Armand T. Nichols, director-general, has determined that only the true representatives of the various states shall be in the running for "Miss America, 1933."
         Nichols said that he had sent telegrams to the Mayors of all towns having contestants in the Pageant asking them to certify whether or not the girls resided there. Up until a late hour he had received seven replies, and each vouched for the girl in question.
'Three I' League Out
         Meanwhile, Nichols still refused to announce the names of the three inter-city beauties who were disqualified. ...

It is not clear that Director Nichols would have sent a telegram to the Sinns for Eleanor; it seems that he would have wanted a "Dankenbring" to whom to send the telegram. Eleanor had no sponsor to whom to send a telegram. It is unknown if Director Nichols attempted to contact MidWest Pageant Promoter Jimmy Carrier, and if he would have trusted his word anyway. It seems most likely that Nichols would have wanted more authoritative proof of residency such as would have been the case with a return telegram from a Mayor rather than a random telegram from a random person purported to be a family member; it is felt that only a telegram from an "official" source would have satisfied the RKO men who spearheaded this issue, and that was the whole reason behind the telegrams. Thus, it is assumed that the telegram for Eleanor Dankenbring was sent to the Manning Mayor Albert Wiese.

Research and Conclusions:

To be precise, it is not clear if Mayor Wiese never responded, responded too late, or responded that Eleanor Dankenbring was not a resident of Manning, Iowa.

• It is not definitive from the Saturday Atlantic Press newspaper report if Armand Nichols did or did not receive a return telegram from the Manning Mayor. The first statement is that Eleanor and the other two girls were "disqualified because they do not reside in the state they represent," which seems to indicate there was proof of non-residency, i.e., that a telegram was received from each these three Mayors confirming each girl to be a non-resident. However, the next sentence states "Up until a late hour he had received seven replies, and each vouched for the girl in question," indicating that seven telegrams were received for other candidates confirming their residency, which to me indicates that the remaining three telegrams had not arrived. It is possible that Director Armand Nichols only requested a return telegram if the Mayor could confirm residency, and no telegram was taken to indicate non-residency. Or perhaps this is just reading too much into the specific wording; after all, on Saturday the newspaper reported that the telegrams went to Mayors while the day before it reported the telegrams went to families/sponsors. As there are several factual errors in this week's worth of Atlantic City newspapers (spelling, number of contestants, wrong names and states, etc), inferences are at risk, and it can not be determined with certainty from this source whether or not the Manning Mayor sent a return telegram.

• I contacted Western Union to try to determine if the telegram to Mayor Wiese may not have been received in time for him to respond by the deadline. In the beginning of the 21st century (~2004), their historian insisted that telegrams would have been sent if not to Manning, then to a close nearby town, and would have been delivered in time. She definitely did not think it would have been a timing issue.

• It is also possible that the Mayor was on vacation at this time (note it was mid-week, so during business hours), and there was no back-up, such that the telegram was not received in time. However, in a small town, it is thought that someone from Manning would have personally delivered the telegram, and if the Mayor was not in his office or if the office were closed, the deliverer would have known where Wiese's personal residence was. Telegrams were priority communication at that time, and Western Union would have taken pains to deliver it timely (after all, that was their entire business!). Additionally, in 1933 a street address was not required! Manning was that small! In 1930 the population was 518 families and 1817 people. In the midst of the Depression, especially when the banks were probably still in dire straights with restrictions on withdrawals, it is inconceivable that the Mayor would go away on a vacation; at most he would be at home taking care of other business or with other family members; in any case, it is assumed he was in town when the telegram would have arrived, probably on Wednesday, September 6th, which would have been in time for a timely response. Note that seven telegrams had been returned by Friday, September 8th; only the three telegrams -- for Eleanor and the two non-residents (Miss Illinois Lillian Kroener who lived in St. Louis, Missouri, and Miss Idaho Margaret Wittman who lived in Spokane, Washington) -- had not been returned, or had been returned with a negative reply.

• Perhaps Albert Wiese was not familiar with the name Dankenbring. Ellie was the only person with the surname Dankenbring who lived in Manning. If Armand Nichols simply asked in the telegram for verification that Eleanor Dankenbring lived in Manning, and did not mention the Sinns (her aunt and uncle with whom she lived), it is possible that she just did not come to mind for Mayor Wiese, so he might have replied that she was not a resident of Manning (or a similar statement such as "there is no Dankenbring family in Manning"). Perhaps he should have been familiar with her name as Ellie had been the valedictorian of Manning High School in 1931, and had been featured in several local newspaper articles over the past six years even during the recent two years when she was just a part-time resident since she was at college in Indiana, and specifically in a recent Manning newspaper article about her Pageant participation (see below). However, since Albert Wiese was a generation older without children, he may not have read or remembered these articles, and would have had no reason to be personally familiar with her surname. On the other hand, Albert Wiese surely was familiar with Ellie's aunt and uncle -- Jens Sinn was the main dentist in town and both Jens and Lulu Sinn knew both Albert Wiese and his wife. Lulu was Albert's age, but raised in Waterloo, Iowa; Jens was ten years older and moved to Manning after dental school.

July 1933 Manning, Iowa newspaper - click on picture for larger view
Manning, Iowa newspaper article at right, (undated article, but likely July, 1933 based on copy content) -- "Local Girl in Atlantic City Beauty Contest." "Miss Eleanor Dankenbring of this city, who has been attending college at the University of Valparaiso ... has been selected as representatitve beauty queen for the state of Iowa at the Atlantic City beauty pageant on September 4, 5, 6, 7 ... went to Saint Louis where she met other beauty queens of the central west ..." It is likely that if Eleanor had carried with her a copy of this Manning newspaper article which calls her a "local girl" this would have been proof enough and the problem avoided (or the Valparaiso, IN one).

It should be noted that the article at right would have been published about six weeks prior to the telegrammed residency verification request. While it seems that having a local girl in a national beauty pageant should have been "big news" in such a small town, the lack of knowledge of local participation is not unusual. Since there appears to be no state contest in Iowa, there were no other articles about beauty contests. The Manning article was relatively small without a picture; the article in Valparaiso, Indiana was much longer, and had a picture. And, perhaps to the residents, Ellie was not entirely accepted as a local girl, since she had been born and raised in Waterloo, Iowa and only came to Manning as a teenager; perhaps if she had been a life-time resident, there would have been more and/or larger articles. This lack of knowledge of local girls in the national pageant is consistent with similar research done in Wichita, Kansas and Walpole, Massachusetts; even similarly-aged people with the same surname in Wichita (Sayre) and Walpole (Taylor) had no knowledge of the Pageant! In particular, it underscores how most people seem to have had little interest in beauty pageants in general, and the Miss America pageant specifically.

If Mayor Wiese telegrammed back to Director Nichols that Eleanor was not a resident of Manning, he must have been unfamiliar with this article. Furthermore, he must also have made limited inquiries, and specifically not of the newspaper people, about the residency of any Dankenbring or participation of a local resident in the Miss America Pageant. It seems clear that the telegram sent to him did not advise him to check with the Sinns, the High School or the newspaper, and Mayor Wiese apparently did not take the initiative himself to check with the newspaper people or the High School administration (an obvious place to check when verfying residency for a girl aged 16-20 -- and there was just one high school in Manning).

The Wieses at Manning High School around Ellie's time were Robert Wiese '28 and Mildred Wiese '34. Robert and Mildred were the children of Adam and Elfrieda Wiese, perhaps a nephew and niece to Albert, however, it should be noted that Robert is three years older than Ellie, and Mildred three years younger, so they would at best have been acquaintences at Manning High School. So even if Albert had been close to this niece and nephew, they would most likely have never mentioned Ellie's name.

It is known that Mayor Wiese knew Ellie's aunt and uncle. In 1933, as noted in the bank section above, Jens Sinn and Albert Wiese served together on the bank committee. Additionally, in some of Lulu Sinn's letters, she specifically mentions Albert Wiese -- In 1938, "I attended a republican meeting the other nite at Albert Wiese' house. A republican club was organized and they asked me to join but I told Mrs. Wiese I didn't dare to show my color, because its from the Democrats we get our bread + butter.- The Republicans are working hard and I guess its time we are having a change but will they clean up things or after they get into office will they work for the dollar only?" However, in the letters, it is clear she is closer friends with Helen and Lester Wiese, perhaps due to their having children around the ages of the Sinn's seven children.

Albert Wiese could even have been familiar with the fact that the Sinn's took her niece into their home, but simply was not familiar with her surname of Dankenbring, and did not take the time to look into the matter, perhaps feeling that as Mayor and lifetime resident, he personally knew every one of the ~500 families in Manning; in that sense he would have been correct -- there was no Dankenbring family in Manning, just Eleanor.

Note that in 1930 (and probably still in 1933) Albert Wiese lived just three and a half blocks from the Sinns (see map -- "A" identifies the Wiese home; "B" identifies the Sinn home). The map vividly displays how small a town Manning is (2010 map on MapQuest), underscoring how easy it would have been for Mayor Wiese to assume he knew every family in town and did not need to ask anyone else.

• While it is possible that Mayor Wiese declined to respond out of privacy reasons, this is thought unlikely. While he was likely unfamiliar with the national Miss America Pageant, there generally is not a lot of privacy in a small town. And privacy issues are generally not connected with adults, and Eleanor was 20 at the time of the pageant. And privacy was not as much of an issue in the 1930s as it is in the 21st century. It is not thought that the Mayor would have simply dismissed the telegram request as "none of anyone's business."

• It is also thought that the Mayor would not dismiss the telegram as some sort of prank. Telegrams were "momentous" and "impressive" (see quote below), and costly. It is assumed that Mayor Wiese would have considered the telegram as legitimate and important.

• It is possible that Mayor Wiese simply disapproved of the Pageant. The Wieses were of German heritage, as were the Sinns and Dankenbrings. He was of the Protestant faith (Methodist or Presbyterian), which unlike the Missouri Synod Lutheran religion of the Sinns and Dankenbrings, did not disapprove of dancing, cards and lipstick. It is unknown if he would have disapproved of a bathing beauty contest with the exposure of so much bare skin (sleeveless dresses and full leg exposure was commonly considered risqué); Albert Wiese may have simply declined to reply because of disapproval of the Pageant. It should be noted that there had been no Pageant in six years (1928-1932) because there had been so much general disapproval. This may have been the general feeling in most of Manning, Iowa, and why there was not more press in the newspaper. The Mayor might even have been appalled to think a Manning girl might win and bring national notice to the town for such "risqué" activities.

• Finally, Mayor Wiese may have particularly disapproved of the Pageant during the Great Depression; it could have seemed unconscionably frivolous at a time when so many were suffering financially, as displayed by the proclamation above, just seven months previous.

• It will probably never be able to be determined, these 77+ years later, if Mayor Albert Wiese sent a reply telegram, or when it was sent, or what he affirmed in it. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that Mayor Wiese did not take the time to look into it, and quickly replied something to the effect of "I am unable to verify the residency of any Dankenbring family in Manning" or perhaps more succinctly, to save money, "No Dankenbrings"

The cost of a telegram "varied depending on the distance the message had to be sent, the speed with which it needed to be delivered, and its length. A ten-word telegram sent within a city cost as little as twenty cents in the 1920s. The same telegram sent from Chicago to New York City, for example, cost 60 cents. Most telegraph companies charged by the word, so customers had good reason to be as brief as possible. This gave telegram prose a snappy, brisk style, and the frequent omission of pronouns and articles often became almost poetically ambiguous. Telegrams were almost always brief, pointed, and momentous in a way unmatched by any other form of communication. Telegrams were so impressive, in fact, that some people believed they were capable of truly miraculous feats." "People sent telegrams by calling a telegraph office and dictating a message over the phone to an operator: the cost of the service was added to the customer's phone bill. Customers could also appear in person at a telegraph office and write their message on a blank form, which would then be rendered into Morse code. Telegraph companies supplied pads of blank forms to business customers, and messenger boys would carry the forms to the telegraph office throughout the business day. Full-rate telegrams were hand-delivered by a company courier, but some cheaper services featured telegrams that were delivered by mail." "The height of the telegram age was probably the 1920s and '30s, when Western Union maintained a fleet of 14,000 uniformed messenger boys, on foot and on bicycle, and many thousands more of operators, clerks, and copyists." -- Retrogram, 2010 (website)

• Unfortunately, my grandmother's sister Lulu Sinn did not write letters to her daughter in 1933 and 1934.

In 2010, I wrote David Kusel, Manning historian, to request information on the job of Mayor in 1933 (i.e., was being Mayor a full-time job), and specifically information on Albert Wiese.

From David Kusel, Manning historian and Wiese relative: "I'm almost positive that none of the Wiese descendants will know anything about the circumstances surrounding Albert Wiese as Mayor and who didn't or why there wasn't a response for the verification of Eleanor as a Manning resident. Just too many years have passed."