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HERALD TRIBUNE, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13th 1934
New York Woman is Surprised at Discovery of Historic Relic Hidden for Almost Seventy Years in Family Heirloom
A lock of Lincoln’s Hair Is Found By Chance in an Old Jewel Box A lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair which had lain hidden and forgotten for almost seventy years in a jewel box has come to light through a chance discovery, it was learned yesterday. For thirty years the box has been in the possession of Mrs. J. West Roosevelt, of 66 East Seventy-ninth Street, but until a few days ago, when she sent the box to be repaired, she had no idea of the historic relic it contained.
The box, a handsomely tooled semi-circular red morocco case lined with white satin and velvet, has been in Mrs. Roosevelt’s family for about 130 years, she said yesterday. Her grandfather, George Gibbs, returned after a European “grand tour” about 1808 or 1809 and brought with him as a present for his sister, Sarah Gibbs, a set of cameo earrings, bracelets, necklace, band for the hair and comb, mounted in gold, all of which fitted into the specially made box.
“Sarah Gibbs died in 1866, leaving the set of jewels to George Gibbs’s wife, Laura Wolcott Gibbs. On her death, in 1870, the set was divided between her daughters, the late Mrs. Lucius Tuckerman and the late Mrs. Theophile M. d’Oremieulx, Mrs. Roosevelt’s mother. The red leather case went to Mrs. d’Oremieulx, and Mrs. Roosevelt inherited it from her.
The case had become worn with age, and last month Mrs. Roosevelt took it to Cartier’s to be repaired, first removing, as she thought all its contents. A few days later the box was returned, and with it came a slip of paper listing the contents of the package. In addition to one red leather box, the slip listed “six scarabs, all broken,” and “one pair of scissors.”
“Scissors?” Mrs. Roosevelt said to herself. “Scissors? I know there were no scissors in that box. And I own no scarabs. Of course, that isn’t mine. Cartier has made a mistake, and I must take the box and the little memorandum back.”
The clerk at Cartier’s was amazed at Mrs. Roosevelt’s visit. “But surely, Mrs. Roosevelt, you knew what was in the box?” he asked.
Mrs. Roosevelt assured him that she had no idea what was in the box. Then he lifted the velvet lining of the compartment intended for the comb. Beneath it was a wad of cotton batting, yellow with age. when he told Mrs. Roosevelt to lift out. She lifted it and saw in the bottom of the compartment a small pair of gold-handled scissors in a gold sheath engraved with her grandmother’s initials, six brilliant green scarabs, and a neatly folded flat white paper package, two inches long and one and one-half inches across.
On the package was inscribed, in the handwriting of her uncle, the late George Gibbs, “Hair of President Lincoln, Good Friday, April 14, 1865. Inside the paper were a few strands of dark brown hair, tinged with gray.
It was on April 14, 1865, that President Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theater in Washington. At that time Mrs. Roosevelt’s uncle was in Washington as secretary of the Hudson’s Bay Commission.
Mrs. Roosevelt said she did not know how her uncle acquired this particular lock of hair, but that there is another lock of Lincoln’s hair in the family, which was cut from his head at the time of his death by Dr. Joseph K. Barnes, Lincoln’s surgeon general, who was the first physician to reach the President’s bedside on the night of the assassination. Dr. Barnes knew that Mrs. Roosevelt’s grandmother had a deep admiration for President Lincoln, and sent this lock to her by her son, George Gibbs. It is likely that the newly-found hair was transmitted in the same way.
The little package was probably tucked away by Mrs. Gibbs in the bottom of her jewel box soon after she acquired it, and since her death in 1870, no one had any idea that it was there. “I remember that my grandmother had a perfect mania for hiding things,” Mrs. Roosevelt said “When her son brought this little package to her I can see her saying, ‘Now, where can I hide this?’
“Mrs. Roosevelt is the widow of Dr. J. West Roosevelt, the first cousin of President Theodore Roosevelt. Dr. Roosevelt died in 1898.
MR. LINCOLN’S HAIR. A Lock of It Now Treasured at Lawrenceville, N.J.
To the Editor of The Sun: In Henry T, Blake’s communication of February 28, In regard to Mr. Lincoln’s beard, he asks for an original account of this Incident. If he will refer to the biography of Abraham Lincoln by Charles W. Moores, page 87, he will find this paragraph At the little town of Westfield, N. Y., he said, “I have a. correspondent in this place, a. little girl named Grace Bedell, and 1 would like to know hoi.” Grace was there, 11 years old, and Lincoln stepped from the train to meet her. The year before she had written to him to suggest that he would look better with a beard, o.nd ho, had answered her letter. And now. with all the cares of state and the thoughts of war crowding his mind, he was able to remember the little girl and where she lived; and he was simple-minded enough to say to her as he greeted her, “You see I have let these whiskers grow for you, Grace.”
This biography of 132 pages, while written especially for boys and girls, is one of the most readable and reliable books we have about Lincoln. It has been considered worthy of inclusion in the Riverside Literature Series. Mr. Moores was formerly chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Education, Indianapolis. -Members of his family knew the Lincoln family. His work is one of love and reverence.
But perhaps more interest may be shown In the two locks of hair that were clipped from Mr. Lincoln’s head after his death. I have not seen any reference to them In print. The facts concerning one lock are indisputable. A few hours after Mr. Lincoln died, Schuyler Colfax cut off one tuft of hair for Mrs. Lincoln. This was afterward given to Mrs. Lincoln’s sister, Mrs. N. W. Edwards, whose daughter, Julia Hd- wards Baker, gave most of it to Mrs. Oscar P. Harmon of Danville, III . and a smaller part of it to Mrs. Harmon’s daughter, Lucy Harmon McPherson, now of Lawrenceville, N. J. Two personal letters accompanying the historic gift attest Its genuineness. By the way, Mrs. McPherson and Mr. Moores mentioned above are cousins. When Col. W. H. Lambert of Philadelphia gave Ills address on Lincoln some years ago at Lawrenceville he told Mrs. McPherson that he too had some of Lincoln’s hair. His portion must have been some strands from the other lock.
When he saw the Lincoln mementos in the McPherson home he volunteered to add to them some of the Lincoln hair in his collection. That is now in the possession of Mrs. McPherson. Two weeks ago Mrs. McPherson gave seven hairs of the number she held to Dr. John Wesley Hill, Chancellor of Lincoln Memorial University, Cumberland Gap. Tenn. They will be placed among the archives of the institution.
John Hay made a strong personal appeal to Mrs. Harmon for the Lincoln hair she prized so highly, but she felt constrained to decline his request
If the remaining portion of the second lock can be traced, and its genuineness proved, it would seem appropriate to have it placed In the Lincoln Memorial Earn Building, in Kentucky, or in the new Lincoln Memorial in Washington. T. Dean Swift, Lawrenceville, N. J., March 5.
The Tonsorial Ablutions of Honest Abe
N. P. Willis, the publisher of the Home Journal, Washington correspondent, and friend of Mrs. Lincoln witnessed, by chance, President Lincoln’s personal preparations for a state dinner in honor of Prince Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte in August 1801. He was so much im pressed by his glimpse of the “tonsorial ablutions of Honest Abe” that he published a detailed account. This quotation from Mr. Willis’s story, which appeared in the Home Journal on August 17, 1861, has never been reprinted elsewhere:
.. To complete this one day’s record of the high life at Washington, I must add still a trifle or two, of the kind that is spicy in history in the first place, for instance, we have been so fortunate (the reader will be astonished to learn) as u see in the whole operation! ‘Honest Abe’ -God bless him! -can afford to let posterity enjoy the story!
“The official dinner to the Prince was to come off at 7 P.M.; but that was not to interfere, fortunately, with the playing of the Marine Band, on the grounds of the White House… I chanced to be one of three who occupied, for the last half hour of the performance, a the long settee, which stood opposite the Presidential mansion–not the
the least interesting operation, of the beautiful picture before us, being a chance view of the President himself, who sat at the window of his private room, on the second story, reading his letters and listening to the music, but evidently wholly unconscious of being visible to the public.
“Of course, neither our own party nor the rest of the gay crowd had the least expectation of seeing any portion of the royal entertainment that was to take place in the great White Mansion before us; but, as it approached within thirty minutes of the dinner hour, (which Mrs. Lincoln had chanced to mention to me, the night before) I could not help wondering, to the friend sitting at my side, whether ‘Abe’, lounging there in his gray coat, with his knees up to his chin, would have time enough for his toilet. But the words were scarce out of my mouth when up jumped the lively successor of George Washington and took a seat in another chair–the body-servant, who had entered the room, proceeding immediately to put the cloth around the respected throat and shave that portion of the honored face which had not ‘taken the veil.’ In three minutes more said the holder of the Executive by the nose shook his official napkin out of the window, giving to the summer wind, thus carelessly, whatever had fallen from the Inaugurated beard; and the remainder of the toilet was prompt enough! The long arms were busy about the tall head for a moment, probably with a brush, or comb-there was a stoop, probably for bi-forked disencumbered, and, immediately after, a sudden gleam of white linen lifted aloft–a momentary extension of elbows with the tying of the cravat, and a putting on of the black coat–and, then, the retiring figure of the dressed President was lost to our sight. The toilet of the sovereign of the great realm of the West-(which we had been thus privileged to see. through the open window of his dressing-room)-had occupied precisely twenty-two minutes, by my anxiously consulted watch
SOLD LOCK OF LINCOLN’S HAIR AND CUFF BUTTON FOR $600
Relics of Martyr President Figure In Suit In Maniciple Court Today
The sale of some Lincoln relics figured In a suit in the Third District Municipal! In the court today, and during the testimony, It was stated that a cuff button and a lock of hair of the martyr President had been’ sold for $600. Charles Sabin Taft was Lincoln’s physician and was with him Immediately following his being shot and at his bedside. when he died. The physician secured a lock of the President’s hair and a cuff button. When the physician died some years ago he turned them t>ver to his son, | Charles C. Taft, of No. 269 West Fifty-fifth Street.
In the complaint, Taft charged that he was in the employ of Louis L. Cohen A Co.. at No. 801 Eighth avenue and that about three years ago he had a chance to sell the relics. He spoke to Cohen, he stated, about It, and $80 was forwarded to him for his expenses to Washington. There, he stated, he sold the relics to Major William H. Lambert, of the United States Army, for $800. He alleged that he received a check for the amount and that he turned It over to Cohen to get cashed. The 480 expenses were deducted and then, he says, Cohen only handed Mm $346.67 and kept the remainder, $173.33.
Cohen showed Justice Young a receipt that Taft had signed and which stated that he, Cohen, was to get one-third of what the relics brought if the $80 was advanced. Cohen said that he kept the money, as It was tips share. Justice Young took the same view and dismissed the case.
Three Hundred Dollars Paid for a Lock of the Great Martyr’s HalQ by a New York Buyer. 1914
[By A. P. NIGHT WIRE TO THE TIMES.]
NEW YORK, Jan. 17.—The final session of the sale of part of the late Maj. William H. Lambert’s library, comprising1 the more Important of his Llncolnians, was held yesterday. Th§ total was $5280. The grand total thus far Is $52,439.
Harry Pagan paid the highest priority of the day, $600, for a presentation copy from Lincoln to William Cowgill of “Political Debates Between Hon. Abraham Lincoln and Hon. Stephen A. Douglas in the Celebrated Campaign of 1858 In Illinois, as Carefully Prepared by the Reporters of Each Party.”
Inserted are two autograph letters of Lincoln to H. C. Whitney and a letter of Douglas’s to Henry A. Wise of “Virginia. C. Hines obtained for $330 a lock of hair cut from Lincoln’s head after he was shot. It is in a gold case* George D. Smith paid $505 for the inkstand used by Lincoln for many years in his office at Springfield, Ill
Lock of Martyr’s Hair
Director Hines of the Board of Freeholders exhibited to his colleagues yesterday a gold case containing a lock of hair taken from the head of Abraham Lincoln Just after his death on April 15, 1865.
The souvenir of the martyred President had been given originally to Dr. Charles L. Taft, an attending surgeon at the death bed, and was acquired by William H. Lambert, collector of Llncolnlana. from the doctor’s son. Charles C. Taft, March 11, 1908. These facts are set forth in the gold case.
Mr. Hints, an Indefatigable collector, acquired the memento when Mr. Lambert died and his collection was offered for sale at the Anderson Galleries In New York. He thought yesterday an appropriate time to show It to friends
At the same time he explained that he had spent some time recently locating the Jeweler who had fashioned the gold box. The case has a hinged cover In which a glass plate is fastened, and It became necessary to open this cover to clean the glass. For that purpose, a small lock had been provided, but Mr. Hilnes had not received the key. His search, however, was finally successful.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hines, believes the souvenir should become public property. Is making plans to present it to a museum.
A LOCK OF LINCOLN’S HAIR Bequeathed by General Wilson to Museum of Art. (1914)
NEW YORK, March 18.—A blood-stained lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair and a number of relics and mementos in- intimately related to the history Of the United States, was offered to the Metropolitan Museum of art in the will of the late General Grant “Wilson, filed for probate today. Among the bequests is a ring that contains the hair of Washington, Wellington, Napoleon, Grant, and Lincoln. To his widow, Mrs. Mary H. Wilson, the testator bequeathed the remainder 01 his property and copyrights. The total value of the estate Is not given in the will. In a footnote to the document, General Wilson explains that he made no public bequests of money, “because for half a century I bestowed 10 percent of my moderate Income to charity”