Haddon, Lulu (1881-1964)

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 12/25/2014
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 11001

Lulu Haddon served in the Washington State House of Representatives during the 1933 and 1935 sessions representing the 23rd Legislative District of Kitsap County. She was elected to the Washington State Senate in 1936, and served there until her resignation in 1942. Raised without a formal education, Haddon became deeply involved with public education, and chaired education committees in both houses. She was instrumental in the creation of Rainier School in Buckley (Pierce County) and Olympic College in Bremerton. Haddon's daughter, Frances Haddon Morgan (1909-1993), was later elected to her mother's seats in both the house and the senate.

From Spangle to Bremerton

Lulu Davis was born in Ankeny, Iowa, on May 10, 1881. At the age of 6, she and her family moved to Spangle, Washington, south of Spokane. Because winter snows made it hard for her and her 10 siblings to attend school, they received most of their education from their college-educated mother, who taught them around the family's kitchen table.

At the age of 18, Davis traveled to Bremerton with her father to visit her uncle and aunt, Dr. and Mrs. Francis A. Harlow. Dr. Harlow -- a staunch Republican and mayor of Bremerton -- invited Davis to move in with them. She accepted, and soon found work at C. P. Kimball's General Store, where she met James Haddon (1873-1938) and fell in love.

Not long after the couple married on December 24, 1903, Jim Haddon left Kimball's and went into the grocery business with a partner. He later opened his own store -- Haddon's Grocery -- west of downtown Bremerton. The Haddon's had four children: Lawrence (1904-1986), Joseph Elbert "Bert" (1906-2003), Frances, and James Jr. (1917-1983).

Switching Parties

Although Lulu Haddon came from a Republican family, once she married she became a Democrat. This caused some consternation amongst her relatives, but Haddon informed them that when she married Jim, she was with him all the way. As their children grew, Haddon became active in a variety of civic organizations.

Because she never had a formal education while growing up in Spangle, Haddon took a keen interest in public education. She became a member of the Bremerton School Board, where she served for 14 years. Haddon was instrumental in the creation of the Bremerton School District Parent Teacher Association, and also served on the Bremerton Library board of trustees.

In 1932, a group of Bremerton's Democrats approached Jim Haddon, and asked him to run for office in the state legislature. He turned them down, telling them to ask Lulu, who had already served as president of Bremerton's League of Women Voters. Haddon won her election to the Washington State House of Representatives as part of the Democratic sweep that year in Washington and across the nation.

New Deal Democrat

Soon after being sworn in, Haddon was named chair of the house Educational Institutions committee. She was also interested in solving the unemployment problem brought on by the Great Depression, and developed a close working relationship with Representative Warren Magnuson (1905-1989) the chair of the Unemployment Relief committee. Their friendship would last all their lives, and Haddon, like family members and other close friends, always called him Warren instead of the more familiar "Maggie," by which he came to be known.

Other committees that Haddon sat on during her first two-year term included Education, Medicine, Dentistry, Pure Foods and Drugs, and State Penal and Reformatory Institutions. She sponsored five bills, one of which -- relating to the vocational rehabilitation and education of disabled persons -- was approved by Governor Clarence Martin (1883-1955.)

During session, Haddon rented a small apartment in Olympia. Because legislators were paid only $5 a day, her salary barely paid her rent, leaving little money for food. She often baked apple pies, so she could have a slice with her cheese sandwich and tea that she brought with her for lunch.

On to the Senate

Haddon was re-elected in 1934, and continued to serve as chair of the Educational Institutions committee. Other committees that she served on during her second term included Appropriations, Commerce and Manufacturing, Education, Forestry and Logged-Off Lands, and State Penal and Reformatory Institutions.

In 1936, Haddon set her sights on the Washington State Senate, and was elected to a seat there in a landslide. She was named chair of the education committee. One of her first orders of business was sponsoring a junior college bill that she had tried, but failed, to pass in the house in 1933. This time it passed, and allowed for the state "adoption" of seven junior colleges around the state.

Senator Haddon, along with Senator Monty Percival (1894-1941), also sponsored legislation to create the Western State Custodial School (later, Rainier School) at Buckley, in Pierce County. The school was the first of its kind in Western Washington to accommodate the needs of those with developmental disabilities. It opened in 1939, and two of the buildings were named Haddon Hall and Percival Hall.

Bridge Work

Jim Haddon died in 1938, and Lulu continued to run the grocery store in Bremerton when she wasn't in session at Olympia. Haddon was well liked in Bremerton, and listened very closely to the concerns of her constituency. At the time of her husband's death, Haddon as deeply involved with problems related to Bremerton's Manette Bridge.

The Manette Bridge, which opened over the Port Washington Narrows in 1930, was often clogged with bumper-to-bumper traffic due to cars passing slowly through the tollbooth. An incident had occurred in which a panicked mother was trying to reach a hospital after her child had swallowed a tinker toy, but got caught in a traffic jam on the bridge. The mother ran from her car with the child in her arms. She made it to a clinic run by Haddon's son, Dr. Elbert Haddon, but too late for the baby to be saved.

Haddon sponsored legislation that allowed the Washington State Department of Highways (now the Washington State Department of Transportation) to purchase the Manette Bridge and discontinue the toll. On January 28, 1939, the community celebrated as Lulu Haddon cut a symbolic ribbon at the bridge, which motorists were then able to drive over for free.

Back Home to Bremerton

Haddon was re-elected to the State Senate in 1940, but lost a close ally in Olympia after Clarence Martin failed in his efforts to win a third term as governor. Instead, Republican Arthur Langlie (1900-1966) won the office. Haddon had found him too narrowly focused for her liking.

After the United States entered World War II, Bremerton's population ballooned as tens of thousands of workers moved to the city to build and repair ships at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Haddon served on the state housing authority board, and assisted in obtaining funding to build homes for wartime workers.

Around this time, Haddon sold the family's grocery store, but soon found it hard to make ends meet. A group of Bremerton citizens urged her to run for city finance commissioner, which would provide her with a more livable wage than she could earn as a state senator. She won in 1943, and resigned from the legislature.

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Possibly her greatest accomplishment while working for the city was helping to create Olympic College. She had championed the school during her years in the state legislature, but World War II disrupted the plans to build a junior college in Bremerton. After the war, planning began again, with Haddon on the school's advisory committee. Olympic College welcomed its first students in 1946.

Haddon served as Bremerton's finance commissioner until 1952, when she made one last attempt to run for the state senate. She was defeated, and retired from politics. Six years later, she was delighted when her daughter, Frances Haddon Morgan, was elected to her old seat in the state house. In 1960 Morgan went on to become a state senator.

Lulu Haddon lived out her years at the home in Bremerton where she had raised her family. She died on June 20, 1964. Besides Haddon Hall at Rainier School, Lulu D. Haddon Elementary School and Lulu D. Haddon Park -- both in Bremerton -- were named in her honor. 


Sources: "Chairman Yantis Names 48 Committees of House," The Seattle Times, January 11, 1933, p. 7; "Lady Lawmakers Fit Into Picture at State Capital," The Seattle Times, January 22, 1933, pp. 1, 8; "Ten Women Legislators to be at State Session," The Seattle Times, November 11, 1934, p. 5; "Brief Biographies Introduce More Members in 1937 Legislature," The Seattle Times, December 27, 1936, p. 8; "Junior College Aid Proposed in Senate Bill," The Seattle Times, January 20, 1937, p. 10; "Manette Drops Tolls Saturday," The Seattle Times, January 25, 1939, p. 9; "Lulu Haddon, State Political Figure Dies," The Seattle Times, June 22, 1964, p. 33; "Lulu D. Haddon Succumbs at 83," The Bremerton Sun, June 22, 1964, pp. 1, 2; "Lulu D. Haddon," The Bremerton Sun, June 23, 1964, p. 16; "Lulu Haddon, Ex-Demo Legislator Passes Away" Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 23, 1964, p. 12; "City Council Bestows Honor on Lulu Haddon," The Bremerton Sun, June 25, 1964, p. 13; "Sister, Vote it Straight," Frances Elizabeth Haddon Morgan, Centennial Oral History Project, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, Olympia, 1981; "Women in the Legislature" Washington State Legislature website accessed December 13, 2014 (http://web.leg.wa.gov/WomenInTheLegislature/Members/ MemberBios/HaddonL_1937.pdf).

Related Topics:   Biographies | Women's History

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