On a Secretary

Elizabeth Ham lived quite an interesting life. As a younger woman, she had rubbed elbows with some of the most illustrious diplomats of the mid-20th Century as she worked in the halls of the ill-fated League of Nations. The League was an interesting creation. Its father was American President Woodrow Wilson, who first proposed an international peace-keeping organization that would work to ensure that nothing like World War 1 would ever happen again.

The League was one of President Wilson’s 14 Points, part of his proposal to the warring powers of Europe at the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919. Unfortunately, the nation Wilson represented chose not to join the very peace-keeping organization its president put forth.

However, that did not mean that American diplomats were not involved in the League during its short lifetime (1920-1946, officially). The United States, even though the formal policy was non-involvement in European affairs in the period between World War 1 and World War 2, sent representatives and workers to the Geneva headquarters so that diplomatic channels would still be open. Thus, there was an American delegation at the League of Nations even if the nation wasn’t an official member of it.

It was in this capacity that Elizabeth Ham worked with American Diplomat Norman Davis, a man who would occupy the position of sort of a de facto secretary for the League for a short time during an economic conference in Geneva in the inter-war years. Davis, a successful businessman from Tennessee, had even accompanied Wilson to the Versailles Conference as an economic advisor and had been an undersecretary of the US Treasury Department. He would go on to be a US Ambassador as well. And Elizabeth Ham worked for a time as one of Davis’s secretaries.

Later in life, Ms. Ham dedicated herself for many years to being the chief secretary to a horse stud farm, an entity known as Meadow Stud in Caroline County, Virginia. It was there that she worked for the Chenery family, the farm’s owners. In 1970, a mare named Somethingroyal gave birth to a healthy colt that sported white “socks” on three legs and the fourth one red, like the rest of him.

The owners ended up calling this spunky colt Big Red, but that was merely a nickname. They had to submit paperwork with a formal name if they were going to first race and then stud him. And, by the looks of things as he grew, the colt would grow up to do great things.

But the name stumped them. They thought of Sceptre, Royal Line, and even Something Special (all plays on the names of his mother and father to a degree), but nothing seemed to fit. That’s when Elizabeth Ham came up with an idea. Calling upon her work with Ambassador Davis in the League of Nations, Ms Ham offered a name that would go down in racing history.


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