“My dear Clara, it seems that the White House is haunted.” These words were written by Major Archie Butt to his sister-in-law in the summer of 1911. He was talking about “the Thing,” a ghost believed to be the spirit of a 15-year-old boy.
Servants told stories of feeling the Thing touching them on the shoulder, as if a curious boy was leaning over to see what they were doing. President Howard Taft’s housekeeper was the only one who claimed to have seen the apparition. She described it as a young boy around 14 or 15 with sad, blue eyes and light, unkempt hair.
The Thing has not been not the only ghost people have claimed to see there. Mary Todd Lincoln held seances in the Red Room after her son, Willie, died. Willie’s spirit has supposedly been a common sight. President Lincoln’s ghost is the one most people claim to see. Grace Coolidge, the wife of President Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929), was first to say she saw him.
Mary Lincoln told her friends she’d heard President Andrew Jackson stomping and swearing through the halls. The Rose Room, Jackson’s bedroom while he was president, is supposedly the most haunted room in the White House.
Other Ghostly Residents
- Abigail Adams, wife to John Adams (1797-1801), the second president of the U.S., used to hang laundry in the East Room of the new White House because it was the warmest and driest place. Her ghost has supposedly been seen heading towards the East Room with outstretched arms, as if she were carrying laundry, with the scent of lavender filling the air.
- President Thomas Jefferson is said to play his violin in the Yellow Oval Room.
- Some say Anna Surratt bangs on the doors of the White House, begging to see President Andrew Johnson in hopes of getting a pardon for her mother, Mary Surratt, a conspirator of the Lincoln assassination.