Ancient Ocean Found Under Chesapeake Bay

(NEWSER) – The remains of a salty ocean ancient enough for dinosaurs to have drowned in it have been found deep in the sediment under the Chesapeake Bay. The seawater—believed to be 100 to 150 million years old—was isolated, trapped a half-mile underground, and preserved with the help of an asteroid that smashed into the area around 35 million years ago, creating a huge crater. The watery fossil holds around 3 trillion gallons, and is "the oldest large body of ancient seawater in the world," according to government hydrologists who made the amazing find while mapping the ancient crater under Virginia's Cape Charles. "We weren't looking for ancient seawater," the lead researcher tells the Washington Post, calling the find "surprising."
The underground seawater, twice as salty as that found in today's oceans, comes from a time when "the Atlantic was a smaller ocean," the lead researcher tells NPR. "It had only been in existence for about 50 million years and it was isolated from the rest of the world's oceans. It had its own salinity and its salinity was changing at a different rate and by different amounts from the rest of the global oceans." But while the distinct chemical signature of the Cretaceous-era ocean has been preserved, the remnants are scattered among countless cracks and pores, meaning any ancient ocean life is very unlikely to have survived

Morris Louis (From Wikipedia)

Morris Louis (born Morris Louis Bernstein, 28 November 1912 – 7 September 1962) was an American painter. During the 1950s he became one of the earliest exponents of Color Field painting. Living in Washington, D.C. Louis, along with Kenneth Noland and other Washington painters formed an art movement that is known today as the Washington Color School.

File:'Bridge' by Kenneth Noland, 1964..jpg

Kenneth Noland, Bridge, 1964

A visual-art movement of the late 1950s through the mid-1960s, the Washington Color School was originally a group of painters who showed works in the "Washington Color Painters" exhibit at the Washington Gallery of Modern Art in Washington, DC from June 25-September 5, 1965.

The exhibition subsequently traveled to several other venues in the United States, including the Walker Art Center. The exhibition's organizer was Gerald "Gerry" Nordland and the painters included Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Howard Mehring, Thomas "Tom" Downing, and Paul Reed.

The Washington Color School artists painted largely abstract works, and were central to the larger color field movement. Though not generally considered abstract expressionists, in so far as much of their work is more orderly than—and not apparently motivated by the philosophy behind—abstract expressionism, there are parallels between the Washington Color School and the abstract expressionists largely to their north in New York City.
Minimally, the use of stripes, washes, and fields of single colors of paint on canvas were common to most artists in both groups.

After their initial, benchmark exhibition, Davis, Mehring, Downing, and Reed exhibited at various times at Jefferson Place Gallery, which was originally directed by Alice Denney and later owned and directed by Nesta Dorrance. Other artists associated with the group include Sam Gilliam, Anne Truitt, Mary Pinchot Meyer, Leon Berkowitz, Jacob Kainen Alma Thomas, and James Hilleary among others.

The group is sometimes thought to have expanded as it achieved a dominant presence in the Washington DC visual art community through the 1960s and into the 1970s. Along with the original Washington Color School painters, a second generation also exhibited at Jefferson Place Gallery. The movement remained influential even as some of its members dispersed elsewhere.

Hilda Thorpe (Hilda Shapiro Thorpe) was a color field painter who made over sized paintings and paper sculpture and who taught a generation of metro Washington, D.C. artists. Other Washington Color School female artists include Anne Truitt whose work relates to the 'minimalist-purity' side of three dimensional painterly objects and painters Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Alma Thomas.

Other artists include Sam Gilliam's suspended paintings (by contrast they are almost baroque in sensibility,) Rockne Kreb's transparent sculptures, light & laser works, Ed McGowin's vacuum formed pieces which he was ending and moving towards a more personal art (tableau,) Bill Christenberry's neon works which lead him to deal more directly with his roots, Bob Stackhouse, Tom Green all fall under this art movement.

During Spring and Summer 2007, arts institutions in Washington, DC staged a city-wide celebration of Color Field painting, including exhibitions at galleries and museums of works by members of the Washington Color School.

 In 2011, a group of Washington art collectors began the Washington Color School Project, to gather and publish information about the history of the Color Painters and abstract art in Washington. 

From 1929 to 1933, he studied at the Maryland Institute of Fine and Applied Arts (now Maryland Institute College of Art) on a scholarship, but left shortly before completing the program. Louis worked at various odd jobs to support himself while painting and in 1935 was president of the Baltimore Artists’ Association.

From 1936 to 1940, he lived in New York and worked in the easel division of the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project. During this period, he knew Arshile Gorky, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Jack Tworkov. He also dropped his last name.

He returned to his native Baltimore in 1940 and taught privately. In 1948, he pioneered the use of Magna paint - a newly developed oil based acrylic paint made for him by his friends, New York City paintmakers Leonard Bocour and Sam Golden.

In 1952, Louis moved to Washington, D.C.. Living in Washington, D.C., he was somewhat apart from the New York scene and he was working almost in isolation.

During the 1950s he and a group of artists that included Kenneth Noland, Gene Davis, Tom Downing, Howard Mehring Anne Truitt and Hilda Thorpe among others were central to the development of Color Field painting.

The basic point about Louis's work and that of other Color Field painters, sometimes known as the Washington Color School in contrast to most of the other new approaches of the late 1950s and early 1960s, is that they greatly simplified the idea of what constitutes the look of a finished painting.

They continued in a tradition of painting exemplified by Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, and Ad Reinhardt. Eliminating gestural, compositional drawing in favor of large areas of raw canvas, solid planes of thinned and fluid paint, utilizing an expressive and psychological use of flat, and intense color and allover, repetitive composition. One of Louis's most importa
nt series of Color Field paintings were his Unfurleds.

All of the Color Field artists were concerned with the classic problems of pictorial space and the flatness of the picture plane.

In 1953, Louis and Noland visited Helen Frankenthaler’s New York studio, where they saw and were greatly impressed by her stain paintings especially Mountains and Sea (1952).
Upon their return to Washington, Louis and Noland together experimented with various techniques of paint application. Louis characteristically applied extremely diluted, thinned paint to an unprimed, unstretched canvas, allowing it to flow over the inclined surface in effects sometimes suggestive of translucent color veils.

The importance of Frankenthaler's example in Louis's development of this technique has been noted.  Louis reported that he thought of Frankenthaler as the bridge between Jackson Pollock and the possible. However, even more so than Frankenthaler, Louis eliminated the brush gesture, although his flat, thin pigment is at times modulated in billowing and subtle tones.

In 1954, Louis produced his mature Veil Paintings, which were characterized by overlapping, superimposed layers of transparent color poured onto and stained into sized or unsized canvas.

 The Veil Paintings consist of waves of brilliant, curving color-shapes submerged in translucent washes through which separate colors emerge principally at the edges. Although subdued, the resulting color is immensely rich. In another series, the artist used long parallel bands and stripes of pure color arranged side by side in rainbow effects.

The thinned acrylic paint was allowed to stain the canvas, making the pigment at one with the canvas as opposed to ‘on top’. This conformed to Greenburg’s conception of ‘Modernism’ as it

Louis destroyed many of his paintings between 1955 and 1957. He resumed work on the Veils in 1958–59. These were followed by Florals and Columns (1960), Unfurleds (1960–61)—in which rivulets of more opaque, intense color flow from both sides of large white fields of raw canvas—and finally the Stripe paintings (1961–62). 

Between summer 1960 and January/February 1961, he created about 150 Unfurleds, generally on mural-size canvases.

A memorial exhibition of Louis' work was held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1963. Major Louis exhibitions were also organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1967 and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., in 1976.

 In 1986 there was an important retrospective exhibition of his works at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. During 2007-2008 an important retrospective was held by museums in San Diego, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Atlanta at the High Museum, and in Washington, DC. at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

He married Marcella Siegel in 1947

Morris Louis was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1962 and soon after, died at his home in Washington, D.C., on September 7, 1962. The cause of his illness was attributed to prolonged exposure to paint vapours. The Estate of Morris Louis is represented exclusively by Diane Upright, a former professor of fine art at Harvard University.


DC Behind the Monuments: Tis himself

DC Behind the Monuments: Tis himself: These are actual quotes taken from Marion Barry, former Mayor of Washington, D.C. "The contagious people of Washington have sto...

The LLR: Short story: Perception is everything.

The LLR: Short story: Perception is everything.:   It was raining when he left DC, although he couldn’t remember leaving the city, or getting into the car or just about anything else tha...

The Rarified Tribe: The Willard InterContinentalWashington is an hist...

The Rarified Tribe:
The Willard InterContinentalWashington is an hist...
: The Willard InterContinental Washington is an historic luxury Beaux-Arts[3] hotel located at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington,...

DC Behind the Monuments: The Corcoran Museum Lions

DC Behind the Monuments: The Corcoran Museum Lions: Two large bronze lions on pedestals flank the staircase of the main entrance on 17th Street. These lions were bought in 1888 at the auc...

The Female Stranger

During the fall of 1816 in Alexandria Virginia two people, a man and his wife walked into the Gadsby’s Tavern Hotel. (Below) The woman was ill and it was thought she was suffering from Typhoid fever. 

The woman’s condition continued to deteriorate despite being attended by one of Alexandria’s doctors. The husband then summoned the doctor and hotel staff and even the owner’s wife to the room to ask a very unusual request: He asked that everyone present swear an oath never to reveal their identities. All agreed and each took the secret to the grave. Several days after the oath was taken the Female Stranger died and to this day no one knows their identity. 

Before disappearing, her husband commissioned an extravagant headstone and buried her at St. Paul’s Cemetery in Alexandria Virginia.

The engraving on the headstone reads:

To the Memory of a
whose mortal sufferings terminated
on the 14th day of October 1816
Aged 23 years and 8 months.
This stone is placed here by her disconsolate
Husband in whose arms she sighed out her
latest breath and who under God
did his utmost even to soothe the cold
dead ear of death.
How loved how valued once avails thee not
To whom related or by whom begot
A heap of dust alone remains of thee
Tis all thou art and all the proud shall be
To him gave all the Prophets witness that
through his name whosoever believeth in
him shall receive remission of sins.
Acts.10th Chap.43rd verse

(From “Famous mysteries. 1919.”)  "Our account of the mysterious and dramatic happenings to which this unknown woman's death came as a tragic denouement must commence upon the 25th day of July, in the year 1816, when the brig "Four Sons," bound from Halifax to the West Indies, diverted her course to enter the Potomac and anchor off Alexandria. She remained just long enough to lower a boat and send ashore a man and a sick woman. When the small boat pulled up at the wharf it was seen that the invalid had on a thick veil, which, in spite of the heat of that mid-summer day, she continued to wear while being carried through the streets to The Bunch of Grapes, the largest tavern in the city. After engaging the best room that the hostelry afforded, the anxious husband—as he described himself—hurriedly sent for a physician, who was, however, before being admitted to the sickroom, called aside and pledged upon his honor not to reveal what he might see or learn concerning his patient. The physician's lips were sealed until his death, and the only information concerning his patient which could ever be obtained from him was that he had never seen her face."

A popular (though very improbable) local story in Alexandria, Virginia, suggests that Theodosia Burr Alston may have been the Mysterious Female Stranger who died in Alexandria at Gadsby's Tavern on October 14, 1816.

Theodosia Burr Alston (June 21, 1783 – probably January 2 or 3, 1813) was the daughter of Theodosia Bartow Prevost and the controversial U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr.
She was born in Albany, New York but was raised mostly in New York City. Her education was very closely supervised by her father who stressed mental discipline. This type of tutoring was very rarely given to girls of Theodosia's generation. In addition to the more conventional subjects such as French (the French textbook by Martel, Martel's Elements, published by Van Alen in New York in 1796, is dedicated to Theodosia), music, and dancing, the young "Theo" began to study arithmetic, Latin, Greek, and English composition. She applied herself to English in the form of letters to Aaron Burr, which were returned to her promptly, with the inclusion of detailed criticism.

When Theodosia was 10, her mother died. After this event her father closely supervised his daughter's social education. Specifically this included training in an appreciation of the arts and the intangibles of relating to other people. By the age of 14 Theodosia began to serve as hostess at Richmond Hill, Aaron Burr's stately home in what is now Greenwich Village. Once when Burr was away in 1797 his daughter presided over a dinner for Joseph Brant, Chief of the Six Nations. On this occasion she invited Dr. Hosack, Dr. Bard, and the Bishop of New York, among other notables.

On February 2, 1801 she married Joseph Alston, a wealthy land owner and politician from South Carolina. They honeymooned at Niagara Falls, the first recorded couple to do so. Alston was governor of South Carolina and possessed a large rice plantation. It has been conjectured that there was more than romance involved in this union. Aaron Burr agonized intensely and daily about money matters, particularly as to how he would hold on to the Richmond Hill estate. It is thought that his daughter's tie to a member of the Southern gentry might relieve him of some of his financial burdens. The marriage to Alston meant that Theodosia would become prominent in South Carolina social circles. Her letters to her father indicated that she had formed an affectionate alliance with Joseph. The couple's son, Aaron Burr Alston, was born in 1802.

Following the baby's birth, Theodosia's health became fragile. She made trips to Saratoga, New York and Ballston Spa in an effort to restore her health. She also visited her father and accompanied him to Ohio in the summer of 1806, along with her son. There Aaron met with an Irishman, Harman Blennerhassett, who had an island estate in the Ohio River in what is now West Virginia. The two men made plans to form a western empire, which was later joined by General James Wilkinson. Burr and Wilkinson were rumored to be plotting to separate Louisiana and parts of the western United States from America; the veracity of this claim, with Burr becoming a "kinglike" figure of the separated lands, was never proven.

In the spring of 1807, Aaron Burr was arrested for treason. During his trial in Richmond, Virginia, Theodosia was with him, providing comfort and support. He was acquitted of the charges against him but left for Europe, where he remained for a period of four years. While he was in exile, Theodosia acted as his agent in America, raising money, which she sent to her father, and transmitting messages. Theodosia wrote letters to Secretary of State Albert Gallatin and to Dolley Madison in an effort to secure a smooth return for Aaron. He returned to New York in July 1812 but his daughter could not quickly join him. Her son had succumbed to a fever and died on June 30 and the anguish involved nearly killed Theodosia. She had to wait until December before she could make the journey. With her husband unable to accompany her, her father sent Timothy Green, an old friend, to accompany her on the trip north. Green possessed some medical knowledge.

On December 31, 1812, Theodosia sailed aboard the schooner Patriot from Georgetown, South Carolina. The Patriot was a famously fast sailer, which had originally been built as a pilot boat, and had served as a privateer during the War of 1812, when it was commissioned by the United States government to prey on English shipping. She had been refitted in December in Georgetown, her guns dismounted and hidden below decks. Her name was painted out and any indication of recent activity was entirely erased. The schooner's captain, William Overstocks, desired to make a rapid run to New York with his cargo, and it is likely that she was laden with the proceeds from her raids.

The Patriot and all those on board were never heard from again.

Following the Patriot's disappearance, rumors immediately arose. The most enduring was that the Patriot had been captured by the pirates Dominique You or "The Bloody Babe"; or something had occurred near Cape Hatteras, notorious for its wreckers.
Her father refused to credit any of the rumors of her possible capture, believing that she had died in shipwreck, but the rumors persisted long after his death and after around 1850 more substantial "explanations" of the mystery surfaced, usually alleging to be from the deathbed confessions of sailors and executed criminals.

One story which was considered somewhat plausible was that the Patriot had fallen prey to the wreckers known as the Carolina "bankers". The bankers populated the sandbank islands near Nags Head, North Carolina, pirating wrecks and murdering both passengers and crews. When the sea did not serve up wrecks for their plunder, they lured ships onto the shoals. On stormy nights the bankers would hobble a horse, tie a lantern around the animal's neck, and walk it up and down the beach. Sailors at sea could not distinguish the bobbing light they saw from that of a ship which was anchored securely. Often they steered toward shore to find shelter. Instead they became wrecked on the banks, after which their crews and passengers were murdered. In relation to this, a Mr. J.A. Elliott of Norfolk, Virginia made a statement in 1910 that in the early part of 1813, the dead body of a young woman "with every indication of refinement" had been washed ashore at Cape Charles, and had been buried on her finder's farm.

Writing in the Charleston News and Courier, Foster Haley claimed that documents he had discovered in the State archives in Mobile, Alabama, said that the Patriot had been captured by a pirate vessel captained by John Howard Payne and that every person on board had been murdered by the pirates including "a woman who was obviously a noblewoman or a lady of high birth". However, Haley never identified or cited the documents he had supposedly found.

The most romantic legend concerning Theodosia's fate involves piracy and a Karankawa Indian chief on the Texas Gulf Coast. The earliest American settlers to the Gulf Coast testified of a Karankawa warrior wearing a gold locket inscribed "Theodosia." He had claimed that after a terrible storm, he found a ship wrecked at the mouth of the San Bernard River. Hearing a faint cry, he boarded the hulk and found a white woman, naked except for the gold locket, chained to a bulkhead by her ankle. The woman fainted on seeing the Karankawa warrior, and he managed to pull her free and carry her to the shore. When she revived she told him that she was the daughter of a great chief of the white men, who was misunderstood by his people and had to leave his country. She gave him the locket and told him that if he ever met white men he was to show them the locket and tell them the story, and then died in his arms.

Another myth about her fate traces its origin to Charles Etienne Arthur Gayarre's novel Fernando de Lemos: Truth and Fiction: A Novel (1872). Gayarre devoted one chapter to a confession by the pirate Dominique You. In Gayarre's story You admitted having captured the Patriot after he discovered it dismasted off Cape Hatteras following a storm. You and his men murdered the crew, while Theodosia was made to walk the plank: "She stepped on it and descended into the sea with graceful composure, as if she had been alighting from a carriage," Gayarre wrote in You's voice. "She sank, and rising again, she, with an indescribable smile of angelic sweetness, waved her hand to me as if she meant to say: 'Farewell, and thanks again'; and then sank forever."

 Because Gayarre billed his novel as a mixture of "truth and fiction" there was popular speculation about whether his account of You's confession might be real, and the story entered American folklore.

 The American folklorist Edward Rowe Snow later put together an account in Strange Tales from Nova Scotia to Cape Hatteras incorporating the Gayarre story with later offshoots; for example, on February 14, 1903, one Mrs. Harriet Sprague issued a sworn statement before Notary Freeman Atwell, of Cass County, Michigan claiming to corroborate the details of You's confession in Gayarre's 1872 novel. Mrs. Sprague described the contents of an 1848 confession by pirate Frank Burdick, an alleged shipmate of You when the Patriot was discovered. The pirates left most of Alston's clothing untouched, as well as a portrait of Alston. Later, "wreckers" (locals known for rifling stranded vessels in often-criminal fashion) discovered the deserted Patriot and one of them carried the painting and clothing ashore, giving it to a female suitor. Years later, a physician caring for the now-elderly woman noticed the unusually expensive oil painting in the Nag's Head shack and it was supposedly 
confirmed to have belonged to the Alston family. The detail of the painting in Mrs. Sprague's story appears to be derived from a separate legend that first appeared in print in 1878.
 In 1869, Dr. William G. Pool treated Mrs. Polly Mann for an ailment; in payment she gave him a portrait of a young woman which she claimed her first husband had discovered on board a wrecked ship during the War of 1812. Pool became convinced the portrait was of Theodosia Burr Alston, and contacted members of her family, some of whom agreed, though Pool conceded "they cannot say positively if it was her."

 None of them had ever seen Theodosia in life. The only person who had actually known Theodosia that Pool contacted was Mary Alston Pringle, Theodosia's sister-in-law. To his disappointment, she could not recognize the painting as one of Theodosia.

A less romantic analysis of the known facts has led some scholars to conclude that the Patriot was probably wrecked by a storm off Cape Hatteras. Logbooks from the blockading British fleet report a severe storm which began off the Carolina coast in the afternoon of January 2, 1813, and continued into the next day. James L. Michie, an archaeologist from South Carolina, by studying its course has concluded that the Patriot was likely just north of Cape Hatteras when the storm was at its fiercest. "If the ship managed to escape this battering, which continued until midnight," he has said, "it then faced near hurricane-force winds in the early hours of Sunday. Given this knowledge, the Patriot probably sank between 6 p.m. Saturday [January 2] and 8 a.m. Sunday [January 3]."

New England: Henry Brooks Adams and Grief

New England: Henry Brooks Adams and Grief:   Henry Brooks Adams, born in Boston on February 16 1838, was the grandson of President John Quincy Adams, was a smarter than average p...

The age of chivalry has gone;

 “The age of chivalry has gone; the age of humanity has come.” Charles Sumner

“The true grandeur of humanity is in moral elevation, sustained, enlightened and decorated by the intellect of man.” Charles Sumner

Charles Sumner 1855 BPL-crop.jpg

Charles Sumner was a U.S. senator from Massachusetts (1851-74) and was prominent during the Civil War era. He was born in January of 1811 in Boston. He attended the Boston Latin School and graduated from Harvard in 1839 and Harvard Law in 1834.  He was a protégé of Joseph Story (who served on the US Supreme Court). He was also a member of the Porcellian Club (An interesting organization, by the way). An avid abolitionist, he refused compromise on the issue of equal rights for blacks. In 1855, Sumner read an intemperate speech, "The Crime Against Kansas” in which he condemned his opponents, including South Carolina's Senator Andrew P. Butler. Two days later, on May 22, Preston Brooks, Butler's nephew, and a congressman from South Carolina, entered the senate chamber. With him were two goons, Laurence M. Keitt and Henry Edmundson. Brooks said, "Mr. Sumner, I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine." As Sumner, who was six feet and four inches tall, began to stand up, Brooks began beating Sumner severely on the head with a thick cane with a gold head. Sumner was trapped under the heavy desk (which was bolted to the floor), but Brooks continued to bash Sumner until he ripped the desk from the floor. By this time, Sumner was blinded by his own blood, and he staggered up the aisle and collapsed, lapsing into unconsciousness. Brooks continued to beat Sumner until he broke his cane, and then quietly left the chamber. Several other senators attempted to help Sumner, but were blocked by Keitt who was holding a pistol and shouting, "Let them be!" Brooks was a hero to his constituency and was re-elected. Sumner took three years to recover from the beating. He suffered from serious head trauma, severe headaches and stress.

 File:Southern Chivalry.jpg

Nike missile was fired over the Washington area in the spring' of 1955

By PATRICIA SULLIVAN Washington Post Staff Writer

   Chester Joswick, 79, an Army warrant officer who was on duty when a Nike missile was accidental­ly fired over the Washington area in the spring'of1955, died Feb. 7 at Laurel Regional Hospital. He lived in Laurel. The cause of death is pending an investigation by the Maryland medical examiner's office.

     The launch of a fully armed, su­personic Nike-guided missile in the early years of the Cold War caused a sen­sation. Front-page stories in Wash­ington, Baltimore and New York papers dubbed it a "rogue" and "runaway" missile. Soldiers clad in hazardous-material moon suits de­scended on the new Baltimore­ Washington Parkway to cart off fragments of the rocket housing. .

A Barbersville housewife reported seeing the missile go past her kitchen window, making a "whis­tling noise" and looking "like a f1ash of lightning." The Army, which originally said the Nike Ajax missile exploded in the air, let sev­eral days pass before clarifying that the warhead did not detonate.

     Mr. Joswick, then the assistant launcher platoon leader for Battery C of the 36th antiaircraft battalion, was stationed at Fort Meade that rainy April 14, 1955. His unit was raising the rocket launcher at mid­day, part of a routine training exer­cise. The launcher was not fully up­right when the booster rocket fired, sending the missile zooming into the sky. The booster separated and fell on a trailer park. Fuel tank frag­ments tumbled onto the parkway. The missile's nose section was found 500 yards from the launcher with the guidance assembly still at­tached.

     Mr. Joswick and most of the launch crew were in an under­ground room when the missile took off. Sgt. Stanley C. Kozak of Allen­town, Pa., was standing seven feet away and sustained minor burns when he was caught in the rocket's flareback. "Because no launch was intend­ed, the pin of the launcher's for­ward yoke support had not been re­moved," wrote military historian Merle T. Cole in a 2001 article in the Anne Arundel County History News. "As the pin had not been re­moved, the yoke remained in place when the Ajax took off, tearing out .the No. 3 Tunnel or fairing strip covering essential wiring on the I M. missile's side. This damage ren­dered the missile warheads inoper­ative and prevented an explosion."

     The cause of the launch was found to be a short circuit caused by rain getting into an electrical junction box. Mr. Joswick told Cole that al­though the board of inquiry ab­solved his unit, the battalion com­mander was relieved of his duties.

DC Behind the Monuments: The Key House

DC Behind the Monuments: The Key House: Francis Scott Key lived in a house was located at 3516-18 M Street, NW. He lived there in 1814 when he traveled to Baltimore to secur...

When Washington Was Irish: REBEL ROSE O’NEAL

When Washington Was Irish: REBEL ROSE O’NEAL: Rose O'Neal Greenhow and her daughter "Little Rose" at the Old Capitol Prison. "I employed every capacity...

DC Behind the Monuments: Haunted Washington Abigail Adams

DC Behind the Monuments: Haunted Washington Abigail Adams: ABIGAIL ADAMS Abigail and John Adams Abigail Adams (November 22 1744 – October 28, 1818) was the wife of John Adams, (Th...

DC Behind the Monuments: Washington, D.C. On Sunday people wait as long as ...

DC Behind the Monuments: Washington, D.C. On Sunday people wait as long as ...

DC Behind the Monuments: Beauty in death

DC Behind the Monuments: Beauty in death: The photo of Evelyn McHale is a pop culture icon and a symbol of tragic beauty. Evelyn Francis McHale was born in Berkeley, Cal...

DC Behind the Monuments: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

DC Behind the Monuments: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens (100+ acres) are botanical gardens and an event venue located at 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna, Virgini...

DC Behind the Monuments: Prohibition in DC

DC Behind the Monuments: Prohibition in DC

DC Behind the Monuments: Life at Arlington: Robert Todd Lincoln

DC Behind the Monuments: Life at Arlington: Robert Todd Lincoln: Robert Todd Lincoln (August 1, 1843 – July 26, 1926) was an American lawyer and Secretary of War, and the first son of President Abr...

DC Behind the Monuments: Car crash

DC Behind the Monuments: Car crash

DC Behind the Monuments: Life at Arlington: Pierre Charles L'Enfant

DC Behind the Monuments: Life at Arlington: Pierre Charles L'Enfant: Born in Anet on August 9, 1754, L'Enfant was the third child and second son of Marie Charlotte L'Enfant (aged 25 and the d...


President John Tyler allegedly haunts the Blue Oval Room. The stories started when the unstable Mary Todd Lincoln reported hearing his voice coming from the Oval Office.  Mary said that she heard Tyler make a proposal of marriage to Julia Gardner, (above)Tyler’s second and much young wife.


Anna Surratt (Above) was the loving, innocent, and dedicated daughter of convicted Lincoln assassination co-conspirator Mary Surratt.

After the assassination of Abe Lincoln, Mary Surratt was arrested and convicted of being part of the conspiracy to kill the President, and was sentenced to be hung by the neck as a result of her part in the plot.  Essentially, Surratt had allowed her boardinghouse in downtown Washington (Where it still stands today) to be used as a meeting place for Booth and the others conspirators. How much deeper her involvement went beyond that is still a matter of debate.

After the guilty verdict, Anna Surratt pleaded repeatedly for her mother's life with Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt, but he refused to consider clemency.  

She then tried to see President Andrew Johnson at the White House to plead for her mother’s life but was pushed off the grounds by Senator James Lane and Preston King.
Later, Mrs. Stephen Douglas, widow of the late senator, arrived by carriage to the White to convince President Andrew Johnson not to execute Mary Surratt, but to no avail.

But there was hope until the end.  General Winfield Scott Hancock was in command at the Washington Penitentiary, where Mary Hancock was being held. On the day of the execution, he stationed cavalry riders from the jail to the White House in the event President Johnson changed his mind and granted a last-minute reprieve.

After her mother was executed, Anna’s younger brother John was on the run as an accused member of the conspiracy and another brother, Isaac, was in the Confederate army and would not return home for another several months.

Eventually, in 1867, John was put on trial but the government was unable to convict him, and he was released.  He became a teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Emmitsburg, Maryland and later joined the Baltimore Steam Packet Company. He rose to be treasurer of the Company and married Mary Victorine Hunter a relative of Francis Scott Key.  He died of pneumonia at the age of 72.

Mary was ostracized from society in general and for a while lived in poverty.  On March 10, 1869, Surratt tavern in Surrattsville (now Clinton Md.) was sold to Robert W. Hunter who purchased the building and 6 acres around it for $3,500.  After that, Annie married Professor William P. Tonry ina private ceremony at St. Patrick’s Church, just a short walk from Fords Theater. 

Tonry was a chemist working for the surgeon general’s office. Strangely enough, he worked at Ford’s Theatre during the civil war when the theater been converted into government offices shortly after the assassination. Four days after her marriage was made public fired Tonry from his job at the War Department.

The couple eventually moved to Baltimore and Tonry went back to work as a chemist and the couple had four children and overall, became somewhat well off if not rich.  But the strain of the Lincoln assassination and her mother execution left mentally unbalanced and she often suffered from bouts of anxiety, depression, and fear.  Anna died of kidney disease on Oct. 24, 1904.  She was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington, in an unmarked grave next to Mary.

To this day, some members of the White House staff claim that Anna's ghost returns to the White House every July 6, silently banging on the front door to plea for her mother's life. Residents of the H Street NW apartments where she lived for a while report deep moaning and sobbing sounds in the hallways.


Jenna Bush Hager, the daughter of former President George W. Bush claimed that while she lived in the White House ‘I heard a ghost.  I was asleep, there was a fireplace in my room, and all of a sudden, I heard 1920s music coming out.  I could feel it; I freaked out and ran into my sister's room.  She was like “Please go back to sleep this is ridiculous” .The next week we were both asleep in my room, the phone had rang and woke us up.  ‘We were talking and going back to bed when all of a sudden we heard this opera, coming out of the fireplace.  We couldn't believe it; we both jumped in bed and were asking the people that worked there the next morning “Are we crazy?”  We tried to rationalize it, but they said they heard it there all the time.’


During the early years of the Wilson administration, (1913-1921) First lady Ellen Wilson sent workmen to dig up the rose garden to redesign it.  A gardener claimed that while digging up the garden the ghost Dolly Madison appeared and reprimanded him for removing the rose bushes she had planted over a hundred years ago. Ellen Wilson died from Bright’s disease, in the White House, on August 6, 1914. 


William Wallace "Willie" Lincoln was the third son of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln who died in the White House at the age of 11 on February 20, 1862. The cause of death was more than probably was typhoid fever developed from drinking Washington’s contaminated water sometime in late January of 1862. He fell ill and remained ill for almost two months, his condition fluctuating from day to day.  Finally, after much suffering, the child died at 5:00 PM on February 20, with his parents by his side.  "My poor boy.” His father said “He was too good for this earth. God has called him home. I know that he is much better off in heaven, but then we loved him so. It is hard, hard to have him die!"

His death deeply affected the nation and the First Family.  It was reported that Willie's younger brother, Tad, cried for nearly (Who was sick with the same illness at the same time, though he survived.)

Mary Todd Lincoln was so distraught that Lincoln feared for her sanity and Abe Lincoln fell into one of deep depressions, this one lasting for a week.  He and Mary Todd held several séances in the Green Room to contact Willie’s spirit in the afterlife.

Willie Lincoln's ghost was first seen in the White House by staff members of the Grant administration in the 1870s and was seen again in the 1960s by President Lyndon B. Johnson's college-age daughter, Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, who said she not only saw the ghost but conversed with it.


President Abe Lincoln is by far the most seen and heard ghost to haunt the White House. The president’s ghost is most often seen, befittingly, in the Lincoln bedroom, but Lincoln never slept in that room. Rather, he used it as a Cabinet room and signed the Emancipation Proclamation there.

One of the first reports of “Sensing” Lincoln’s ghost roaming the White House halls came from the very practical Theodore Roosevelt, who lived in the White House from 1901 to 1909.

First Lady Grace Coolidge, (Above) wife of President Calvin Coolidge, was the first to claim to have seen Lincoln's ghost.  She insisted that she saw Lincoln looking towards the Potomac River from the Oval Office.  (During Lincoln’s administration the Potomac ran much closer to the White House than it does today)

The no-nonsense Queen Wilhelmina (Below) of the Netherlands visited the United States for about two week in June of 1942 as guest of the U.S. government.

While in Washington, she addressed the U.S. Congress (The first queen to do so) and spent a night at the White House, staying in the Lincoln bedroom.  After she had retired for the evening and was soundly asleep, the Queen awoke after hearing a persistent knocking on her door.  Thinking that there might be news of her war torn homeland, she stepped from the bed, opened the door, saw before her President Abe Lincoln, and promptly fainted.    
Around that same time, long time White House employee Lillian Rogers Parks said that while working in a small room near the Lincoln bedroom when she heard footsteps coming from the Lincoln room and that she kept turning expecting to see someone come near her, but no one ever did. Roosevelt’s secretary, Mary Eben, said she was saw Lincoln laying on his bed (another version says she saw the President pulling on  his boots in the bedroom)  and White House guest Carl Sandburg claimed to have "sensed" Lincoln do the same as well.

Eleanor Roosevelt said that she sensed Lincoln’s presence repeatedly throughout the White House and remarked that she always had the feeling of being watched when she worked in her very busy office.  FDR’s dog, Fala, would sometimes bark at an empty chair.

A naked Winston Churchill was waddling about in the Lincoln bedroom when he saw Lincoln’s ghost. There are two versions of the story. In the first version there was knock on the. The Prime Minster opened the door and purportedly saw the ghost of Abraham Lincoln standing there.

Churchill slammed the door shut, demanded to be moved to another room across the hall and vowed to never enter the Lincoln bedroom again.

In the second version of the same sighting, Churchill had just stepped out of a bath and was enjoying  a cigar and a glass of scotch when Lincoln appeared, standing by the fireplace. The pair are said to have started at each other for some time before the ghost faded away.

One night at 3 AM, President Harry Truman was awaken by a series of loud raps on his door.  He stepped out of bed, opened the door and found no one but publicly attributed the knock to Abe Lincoln.  The President’s daughter, Margaret said she heard also heard a loud knocking on her door in the White House and also believed it was Lincoln.

Gerald Ford's daughter Susan Ford refused to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom and Ronald Reagan’s daughter, Maureen, insisted that she saw Lincoln in the Lincoln Bedroom while staying there during her father’s administration.

I'm not kidding” she said  "We've really seen it. When I told my parents what I saw they looked at me a little weirdly." Maureen said that the spirit appeared to her in the early morning hours as an red and sometimes orange aura.  Years later, First Lady Nancy Reagan said that the family dog, Rex, would often stand outside the Lincoln Bedroom door and bark loudly but refused to go in.

The last reported sighting of Lincoln’s ghost came in the early 1980s when the White House operations foreman, Tony Savoy, came into the White House and saw Lincoln sitting in a chair at the top of some stairs.