LR Women’s History Month – Adolphine Krause Fletcher

CLR Adolphine Krause FletcherIn 1878, Adolphine Krause Fletcher became First Lady of Little Rock when she married John Gould Fletcher, who was then serving as mayor.  Though records are incomplete, this may well be the first and only time that a sitting mayor has been married while in office.

She was born September 3, 1854, the daughter of John and Fredericka Krause.  Her father had immigrated from Denmark and her mother had come from what is now Germany.  Adolphine had at least two older sisters – Clara and Johanna.  When the girls were small children, their father died.  While all three girls reached adulthood, Clara died in 1866.  By the time Adolphine married Mayor Fletcher, her mother had died.  It is expected that Adolphine was introduced to her future husband by her sister Johanna. She was married to Peter Hotze, who was a business partner of Mayor Fletcher’s.

Adolphine and John Gould Fletcher had five children, three of whom survived to adulthood – Adolphine, Mary and John Gould.  (The Fletcher family often used the same names in subsequent generations and never distinguished among different people with the uses of Senior, Junior, Third, etc.)

In 1889, the Fletcher family moved in to what is now known as the Pike-Fletcher-Terry House. It stayed in the family until the 1970s, when Adolphine’s two daugthers deeded it to the City of Little Rock for use by the Arkansas Arts Center.

Mrs. Fletcher saw to it that each of her children were well-educated, even if she restricted them to spending most of their time at the family manse. The three were surrounded with literature and books on topics of the day.  She brought in tutors to teach them German and Latin.  At a time when few females were educated, the Fletcher girls were sent to college.

Though her children and husband traveled, Mrs. Fletcher never ventured from Arkansas. She was, however, enthralled by images of the upper classes from the North, about which she read in magazines. She dressed her children inappropriately for the warmer Arkansas climate but in clothing inspired by etchings from New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and other northern cities.  She also apparently did not care for many of her husband’s more rural relatives. As soon as Adolphine was old enough to act as hostess, Mrs. Fletcher would stay in her room and send her daughter downstairs to receive guests.

Her two passions were gardening and music.  She had the glass conservatory installed on the southeast corner and spent countless hours there cultivating plants which were not native to Arkansas.  She also spent many hours playing piano and singing — everything from popular music to classical songs. She regaled her children with stories about a tutor who had encouraged her to become an opera singer.  She tried to teach her son how to play the violin, but his father would not allow it.

It appears that most her her life was spent focused on her gardening, music and children.  In May 1910, Adolphine Krause Fletcher died and was buried at Mount Holly Cemetery alongside her husband.  Her parents and sisters are also buried in that cemetery.