Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Lynn Shaffer Ewing (1874-1943)
MSA SC 3520-2309
Official Hostess of Maryland, 1908-1912

Lynn M. Shaffer was the state's Official Hostess during the term of Governor Austin L. Crothers. 1 Miss Shaffer was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Percy S. Shaffer of Rising Sun, Maryland and the granddaughter of Colonel William E. Porter of Cecil County. The Shaffer family also included Lynn's brothers, Luther and Porter.2

When Crothers became the Governor in 1908, he appointed Lynn Shaffer, his niece, to the position of State Librarian. Taking office on February 29, 1908, she was only the second woman to fill the position since its creation in 1827.3 During her tenure as State Librarian, Lynn was lauded for her efficiency. The local press claimed that she "unquestionably raised the standard of the office and cut its expenses to a minimum." 4 In a speech before the state legislature, Governor Crothers
reported that Shaffer had saved the state approximately six thousand dollars during her commission. Upon her retirement, she was recognized for being a "good and faithful servant" who kept the library in "perfect condition." 5

Miss Shaffer was so successful and had made such an impression as State Librarian that, after Governor Crothers retired from office, the incoming governor, Phillips Lee Goldsborough, asked her to remain in the position. However, due to her impending nuptials, Miss Shaffer chose to resign her office, yet Governor Goldsborough did persuade her to stay until he could find a new appointee. Therefore, Shaffer postponed her retirement for a month and held the position until February 1, 1912. 6

While acting as State Librarian, Miss Shaffer made her home in Annapolis with her uncle, Governor Crothers. During this time, she occupied her own apartments in Government House. 7 Since Crothers was a bachelor, the role of First Lady of the state was vacant during his term. Crothers' marital status loomed as a large issue during his campaign for governor---some voters questioned whether an unmarried man should be elected. Crothers' political opponents accused the gubernatorial candidate of playing to the ladies as a ploy to win votes. 8 Both men and women wrote to him or met him on the campaign trail to entreat him to select a "good woman" to act as mistress of the executive mansion. 9 Some ladies, such as Miss Marie Padian, offered to fill the role personally. 10

Austin L. Crothers by Adelle E. Jarvell
Collection of the Maryland Commission on Artistic Property
Maryland State Archives, MSA SC 1545-1162

Taking advantage of the interest surrounding the candidate's bachelorhood, Crothers' main supporter, outgoing Governor Edwin Warfield, pledged during a campaign speech in Dorchester County that Mr. Crothers would indeed marry if elected. Warfield claimed that Crothers would "take one of his state's fair daughters to be his bride as mark of appreciation for a victory at the polls." In an attempt to include family values in the campaign platform, irregardless of the marital status of the candidate, Warfield espoused the virtues of married life in numerous speeches, and claimed that he could not get along in public or private life without the help of Mrs. Warfield. 11

Although Crothers was ultimately elected, he chose not to fulfill Governor Warfield's promise to select a wife. Instead, Crothers looked to his niece to cover the hosting responsibilities in the absence of a First Lady. Thus, in addition to performing the duties of librarian, Lynn Shaffer assumed the role of Official Hostess of Maryland. She hosted teas, organized receptions, and staged musicales in the name of Governor Crothers. 12

For example, on February 27, 1911 Miss Shaffer hosted a well-attended musicale at Government House to benefit the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 13 On April 18, 1911, she welcomed four hundred members of the "Sons of Revolution" to the governor's residence, and the following week she received a party of four hundred "Daughters of the American Revolution." 14 During the 1911 June Week at the Naval Academy, Miss Shaffer attended to several houseguests
of the governor that had come to Annapolis to enjoy the festivities. 15 On December 21, 1911, Miss Shaffer was hostess to Governor-elect and Mrs. Goldsborough. After an informal luncheon to welcome the Goldsboroughs, Lynn led the incoming first family on an exhaustive tour of Government House, "from pantry to attic." 16 While clearly excelling in her position as librarian, Miss Shaffer also found time to be an active, faithful hostess for the state. The local press praised her "charming
manner" when acting as Maryland's Official Hostess, and claimed she always conducted herself with "great dignity." 17

After retiring from public service, Miss Shaffer left Annapolis to return to her family's home in Cecil County. On February 20, 1912, Miss Shaffer wed Cecil E. Ewing, the associate owner and editor of the Midland Journal of Rising Sun, Maryland. 18  After the ceremony, the couple embarked on a month-long wedding trip to Florida and then made their home in Rising Sun.19

The preceding essay was taken from the Master's thesis of Maryland State Archives' Archival Research Intern, Emily A. Oland. This thesis, entitled Running Mates: A Biographical Study of First Ladies and Official Hostesses of Maryland, 1777-1995, is copyright protected by Emily A. Oland and was submitted to the University of Maryland Graduate School, Baltimore in August 1996 in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a M.A. degree.

Notes on sources

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