Jesse Clark Hoover, the father of President Herbert Hoover, was born on September 2, 1846 near West Milton, Ohio, the son of Eli and Mary Davis Hoover. His mother died when he was six years old. In 1854 the extended Hoover family, including Jesse’s grandparents, paternal aunts and uncles, and his father’s family, moved to Cedar County, Iowa where they were active in the local Quaker meeting and in founding the village of West Branch.
Jesse was mechanically inclined and started operating a threshing machine for area farmers when he was 16. In about 1869 he opened a blacksmith shop in West Branch. Jesse married Hulda Minthorn in 1870, and had three children: Theodore, Herbert, and Mary.
Jesse built a Blacksmith Shop at the corner of Downey and Penn streets in 1871. He was one of three blacksmiths in a town of 500. West Branch was a farming community, and many of its residents had horses, buggies, and wagons that needed repair. In 1877, Jesse advertised in the West Branch Local Record: "Horse shoeing and plow work a specialty. Also dealer in all kinds of pumps. Prices to suit the times."
In 1878, Jesse sold the Blacksmith Shop and started a new farm implement business on the corner of Downey and Main streets. The new shop was the first in town to manufacture barbed wire. He sold plows, harrows, and other farm equipment, as well as buggies and sewing machines. Jesse almost always included a joke of some kind in his advertisements, highlighting his jovial nature and good humor.
On December 13, 1880, Jesse Hoover died of heart failure brought on by pneumonia. He was only 34 years old. Hulda died just over three years later and is buried next to Jesse in the West Branch Municipal Cemetery on North Maple Street.