The Weirdest Stories From Inside the White House

Photograph of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln (c. between 1860 and 1865). Wikimedia Commons.

15. Mary Todd Lincoln allegedly conducted séances during her time in the White House in the belief she could commune with the souls of the dead

The wife of the 16th President of the United States, Mary Ann Todd Lincoln remains to this day one of the most famous First Ladies of the United States. Widowed following the assassination of her husband in 1865, Lincoln’s life grew progressively more woeful with the deaths of three of her four sons by 1871. Alarming her only surviving son, Robert, by her erratic behavior, during a visit in 1875 she informed him “a wandering Jew” had stolen and returned her pocketbook, that someone had tried to poison her, and that she had $56,000 in government bonds sewn into her petticoats, prompting Robert to have his mother institutionalized for her own safety for several months.

Widely believed Mary Lincoln suffered from an array of health problems, chiefly depression and bipolar disorder, her years in the White House remained no less uneventful or unusual. Convinced in the occult, during her residency in the nation’s capital First Lady Lincoln reportedly held a number of séances in an effort to commune with the spirits of the dead. According to historical accounts, Lincoln informed her friends she grew weary of hearing Andrew Jackson stomping and swearing throughout the White House, although given her manifest mental health problems the likelihood the deceased former president was restlessly intoxicated is dubious at best.