Lizzie Wienke’s first job was teaching at the Montara Point School. The position earner her local celebrity status, and in the early 1900s she was invited to read the Declaration of Independence at an annual Fourth of July celebration held in Half Moon Bay.
But there were bigger things in store for Lizzie. When she was 23-years-old, Lizzie’s name was entered in a highly publicized contest, sponsored by the San Mateo Times, to determine the most popular teacher in the county.
The Times acknowledged the contest was a promotion to boost circulation. Anyone wishing to cast a vote for their favorite teacher had to first subscribe to the paper.
As the early votes were tallied, Miss Agnes Gilligan of San Mateo, appeared to be a shoo-in, with more than 11,000 votes. Miss Victoria E. Roussell of Belmont, her closest competitor, amassed but 4,000 votes.
And then the competition evolved into an exciting horse race, with the results uncertain. Thirty minutes before the contest officially closed, Lizzie Wienke’s friends rallied, and the votes poured in non-stop for the Montara Point schoolteacher.
At the final count, it was a landslide. With more than 40,000 votes cast for Lizzie, she now proudly wore the mantle of “the most popular teacher in San Mateo County.” Her prize was a building lot in Redwood City’s Wellesley Park, valued at $700.
It seemed fitting the congenial Miss Wienke would fall in love with a man equally well-liked. The lucky fellow was San Mateo County Clerk John Nash.
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