That's not as unusual as you'd think. In fact, of the 44 presidents we've had nine of them -- that's one in five! -- have had hostesses rather than First Ladies. Let's take a look:
- The last president to not have a wife while in office was Woodrow Wilson, whose first wife, Ellen, died in the White House of kidney failure on August 6, 1914, just 18 months into Wilson's first term. Wilson remained in mourning until February 1915, during which time the White House hosted no social events. Wilson married Edith Bolling Galt, a widowed jeweler's wife, on December 18, 1915. Helen Bones, the president's cousin, served as official White House hostess from early February to mid-December 1915.
- Grover Cleveland was the previous president not to have a spouse. He entered the White House on March 4, 1885, as a bachelor. His sister, Rose Elizabeth Cleveland, served as official White House hostess during this period. The 49-year-old Cleveland married 21-year-old Frances Folsom in the White House on on June 2, 1886.
- Before that, Benjamin Harrison's wife, Caroline, died of tuberculosis in the White House on October 25, 1892 -- just a month before the presidential election. She was 60 years old. Harrison's daughter, Mary Harrison McKee, assumed the duties of White House hostess in the last six months of her father's presidency.
- Chester Arthur's wife, Ellen, died on January 12, 1880, of pneumonia. She was 43. Her husband assumed the presidency on September 19, 1881, after President James Garfield died from an assassin's bullet. Arthur assumed the presidency as a widower, and he never remarried. His daughter, Mary Arthur McElroy, served as White House hostess for his four-year term.
- We'd then have to go back to James Buchanan, a lifelong bachelor, to find another White House hostess. During Buchanan's term (March 1857 to March 1861), his niece Harriet Lane served as hostess.
- Before that, John Tyler had a hostess. His wife, Letitia, died at the age of 41 in the White House on September 10, 1842, from a stroke. His daughter-in-law, Priscilla Cooper Tyler, served as official White House hostess until June 26, 1844, when 51-year-old Tyler married 24-year-old Julia Gardiner.
- When Martin Van Buren entered the White House on March 4, 1837, he was already a widower -- his wife, Hannah, ahving died a long time ago in 1819. His daughter-in-law, Angelica Singleton Van Buren, acted as official White House hostess during his single term.
- The previous president, Andrew Jackson, lost his wife, Rachel, on December 22, 1828. He'd won the presidency six weeks earlier, and was due to leave for Washington, D.C., on December 26. She died of a heart attack at their home in Nashville. Jackson's niece, Emily Donelson, served as official White House hostess during his two terms as president.
- Thomas Jefferson was the first president to have a hostess. His wife, Martha, died on September 6, 1782, from complications due to childbirth seven months earlier. Jefferson entered the White House on March 4, 1801, as a widower. His daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, served as official White House hostess during his two terms in office.