Ghost stories from the White House

 – seems that President Lincoln’s apparition has been the most frequent one

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It appears that not all stories from the White House are about politics and power after all. Throughout the centuries, there has been a fair number of ghost stories coming out of the White House, counting it as also a haunted place.

One of the first ghost to have appeared is the one of Abigail Adams, the first Second Lady and second First Lady of the United States. Allegedly, she has been seen rushing towards the East Room, where she used to hang her laundry.

During Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, the incoming first lady ordered the gardeners to clear the much appraised rose gardens of the wife of President James Madison, Dolley Madison. It is said that Dolley’s spirit showed up and scared the hell out of the workmen, who had fled before even touching the roses. The garden has continued to bloom for nearly two centuries.

But the most famous ghosts of all is the one of President Abraham Lincoln, who seems to have never left the White House. For many, many years, other presidents, first ladies, guests and staff members of the White House have reported either seeing Abraham’s apparition or having felt it’s presence.





Mary Todd Lincoln with the “ghost” of her husband, taken by spirit photographer William H. Mumler. Mumler’s photos are now considered hoaxes.

 

 






The first person to have reported as having actually seen Lincoln’s ghost was First Lady, Grace Coolidge, who claimed she saw the president’s ghost standing and staring out of a window in the Yellow Oval Room.

Apparently, Lincoln’s ghost was frequently present during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, during the country’s struggle with WWII. Eleanor Roosevelt never confirmed of actually seeing the ghost, but did say she had felt his presence multiple times throughout different rooms of the White House. She had also said that the family dog, Fala, would sometimes bark for no particular reason at what she attributed to the presence of Lincoln’s ghost.

In 1942, the Netherland’s Queen Wilhelmina was a guest at the White House, and as she was sleeping one night, a knock on her bedroom door had woken her up. As she opened the door, standing in the hall, there stood the figure of President Lincoln, top hat and all. Reportedly, the queen had fainted, and upon recovering her consciousness, the figure had already gone.

 

 

 

 

 Photo of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands (1948), whose encounter with President Lincoln’s apparition is perhaps the most famous one.

 




Some paranormal events had occurred inside and nearby the Lincoln Bedroom as well. President Truman himself was once awakened by raps at the door while spending a night in that particular bedroom. His daughter, Margaret Truman had said that she heard a specter rapping at the door of the Lincoln Bedroom when she stayed there too; she believed it was Lincoln.

 

 

Photo of Lincoln’s Bedroom, decorated in a 19th-century style, c. 2005.





Others had witnessed the shade of Abraham Lincoln, lying down on the bed in the Lincoln Bedroom. Eleanor Roosevelt’s secretary, Mary Eben, had witnessed the president’s apparition sitting on the edge of the bed and putting his boots on, after which she ran screaming out of the bedroom. More or less, all Roosevelts have made claims of seeing Lincoln’s ghost around the house.

 

An intriguing anecdote relates to British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, who had seen the ghost one night while having his hot bath with a glass of Scotch. According to the story, the Prime Minister had walked out of the bath naked, heading to the bedroom for a cigar. In the bedroom, he had seen Lincoln standing by the fireplace and leaning on the mantle. The famous guest had taken his cigar out of his mouth, tapped the ash off the end of it and said, “Good evening, Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage”. Lincoln’s ghost had smiled softly and vanished.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of Willie Lincoln, Abraham’s 11-year-old son, who died in the White House, of typhoid during his father’s presidency. His ghost has been appearing as well, ever since the 1870’s, and as recently as the 1960’s.




Lillian Rogers Parks, who had served as housemaid and seamstress in the White House for many years, wrote about hearing Lincoln’s ghost in her 1961 autobiography, My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House. The last haunting experience had been reported in the early 1980’s, by Tony Savoy, White House operations foreman during that period, seeing Lincoln sitting in a chair at the top of some stairs.

 

According to other accounts, Abraham’s ghost has also roamed around outside the White House, having appeared in Loudonville, New York, in a house owned by a woman who was present at Ford’s Theater the night the President was assassinated. Even a phantom train is rumored to have appeared during some April nights along the same path his funeral train moved along from Washington, D.C. to Springfield. 

Well, one can never get enough of hearing some bizarre ghost stories.

 

                                                                     © Michelle Young 2012