HAUNTED WASHINGTON: ANDREW JACKSON



Lillian Rogers Parks, a one-time society hairdresser who had used her client connections to get the White House job as a seamstress and Executive maid  from the beginning of the Hoover Administration in 1929 to the end of the Eisenhower years in 1961, she had been a familiar figure at the White House since she was a little girl. Her mother, Maggie Rogers, was part of the White House staff at the start of the Taft Administration and often took her daughter to work with her. 

Parks. Who lived to age 100, wrote ''My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House.'' which became the basis of a nine-part NBC miniseries in 1979, created an immediate sensation when it was published in 1961 and was on The New York Times best-seller list for 26 weeks. But its success so alarmed the incoming First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, that she ordered all White House domestic employees to sign a pledge not to write about their White House experiences.  (Mrs. Kennedy's secretary, Mary Gallagher, was assigned to the task of collecting the signatures but neglected to sign one, herself, and eventually wrote her own tell-all with Miss Leighton, ''My Boss,'' in 1969.)

In her book, Park told of working in the Rose Bedroom (the modern Queen's Suite) to prepare it for a visit from Queen Elizabeth, when she gradually became aware of a cold presence standing behind her. Frightened, she rushed out of the room not looking once behind her. It was three years before she could bring herself to enter the room again.

 In that same room, President Andrew Jackson is said to be seen lying on the Queens' Bedroom and his would rough laugh has been heard in the White House since the beginning of the 1860s.  First Lady press secretary Liz Carpenter heard the laugh and swore it was Jackson's, and Mary Todd Lincoln (Who had some mental health issues) claimed to have heard the stomping and swearing of an invisible presence which she claimed was the uncouth Jackson.  Mary Todd Lincoln was certain that President Jackson was caring for her young son Willie in the afterlife. In the 1940s, Katurah Brooks, a maid, said that she often heard laughter coming from the Queen's Suite.

 Mary also once remarked that she heard President Thomas Jefferson playing his violin in the Yellow Oval Room and remarked “My, my, how that Mr. Jefferson does play that violin.”  However, she was the only person who heard the sounds.