Did you know a ring may exist that contains a hair from President Abraham Lincoln? The site emersonkent.com claims the source of this claim is the National Park Service (NPS).
The mourning ring was once worn by President Roosevelt who greatly admired Lincoln.
The “Teddy Ring” is real according to an article on MentalFloss:
John Hay, Lincoln’s private secretary and assistant … wanted a memento to remember Lincoln by and paid $100 for six strands of hair removed from the President’s head during his autopsy. He later had one of these hairs displayed under an oval piece of glass and mounted into a ring setting. When Teddy Roosevelt was inaugurated in 1905, John Hay – who would become Teddy’s Secretary of State – sent the Bull Moose the ring along with a note that said, “Please wear it tomorrow; you are one of the men who most thoroughly understand and appreciate Lincoln.”
– via MentalFloss
Here is further confirmation and explanation from another source, Feather Schwartz Foster, presidential historian:
At the time of Lincoln’s death, it was a common Victorian tradition to cut locks of the deceased’s hair for mementos. One of the doctors at the deathbed vigil did so, carefully cutting six strands of hair from the head of the dead President.
A few years later, John Hay purchased two of those strands, for the enormous sum of $100 – the equivalent of a few thousand dollars today. Still, a bargain. He had it enclosed in a ring, another common Victorian tradition.
Other hairs were taken as well according to another historian:
… This isn’t the only surviving lock of Lincoln’s hair. Mary Lincoln claimed one, as did several of the doctors present at the Petersen House or his autopsy. Others were purloined from Lincoln’s head, and one wonders how he made it to the grave with any hair at all.
Read more: Smithsonian
Where this historical treasure is now in 2019 is not publicly known.
Another strange historical coincidence, a rare photo deserves mention here. While we are on the topic of President Rosevelt having a ring with the hair of President Lincoln. Rosevelt was 26th President of the United States under the US Constitution serving from 1901-1908 which was 36 years after Abe Lincoln’s presidency (he was the 16th US President under the US Constitution) ended with assassination on April 15, 1865.
In the 1950s, Stefan Lorant a reporter and editor “who made a career of coincidences” found an image dated April 25, 1865 of President Lincoln’s funeral procession as it moved down Broadway in New York City. When he identified the house on the corner as belonging to Cornelius van Schaack Roosevelt, the grandfather of future President Teddy Roosevelt and his brother Elliot, Lorant took a closer look. Amazingly in the second story window of the Roosevelt mansion were the heads of two boys are peering out onto Lincoln’s funeral procession.
Teddy Roosevelt’s wife Edith Roosevelt confirmed what he suspected: the faces in the windows were the young future President and his brother.
“Yes, I think that is my husband, and next to him his brother,” she exclaimed. “That horrible man! I was a little girl then and my governess took me to Grandfather Roosevelt’s house on Broadway so I could watch the funeral procession. But as I looked down from the window and saw all the black drapings I became frightened and started to cry. Theodore and Elliott were both there. They didn’t like my crying. They took me and locked me in a back room. I never did see Lincoln’s funeral.”
Today, some find the Lincoln hair ring creepy, others think it is cool and interesting. To me the story linking two US presidents is a reminder that we can deeply inspire each other. A measure of our life’s achievements is linked to whom we admire and from whom we choose learn.
As President, Theodore referred to Lincoln as “my great hero” and said that he meant “more to me than any other of our public men.” Noting a Lincoln portrait he had hung on his office wall in the White House, he said, “I look up to that picture, and I do as I believe Lincoln would have done.”
What person from history inspires you? Give it some thought.