Lincoln's blood, and other stuff you didn't know was in Troy

President Lincoln.jpg

They haven't checked the DNA, but they're sure it's his.

There are times when someone tells you something and you listen politely and go "uh-huh,yes" -- and then stop and say, "wait a minute, what?"

That's what happened this weekend when Rensselaer County Historian Kathy Sheehan casually mentioned they've got Abraham Lincoln's blood at the RCHS building in Troy.

Well, not all of it. Just some of what spilled onto sheets or clothing from that fatal gunshot wound at Ford's Theater. We found the whole thing kind of impressive and really, really gross at the same time. It's hard to see but that stain on the rectangle of fabric on top -- that's it.

Lincoln blood.jpg

Sheehan says a lot of museums and historical societies have relics like this one -- bits of the blood and brain from our 16th president. "When he died they cut off pieces of blood stained fabric from sheets and pillow cases and gave it to people and they're all over the place."

Lincoln Blood certificate.jpg

There's a certificate of authenticity of sorts on the back, "Given to a Mrs. Bradley from Elia Patterson."

A few other items we discovered at the RCHS:

A 1799 letter from George Washington to a Troy resident. They were corresponding about mules and horses.

RCHS Washington signature.jpg

One of only four of its kind remaining, this newly renovated coatee belonged to Troy lawyer and Brigadier General John Ellis Wool.

RCHS General John Wool coat.jpg

The RCHS also has Wool's military hat and shoulder braids:

RCHS General Wool Hat.jpg

RCHS Wool's braid.jpg

A sugar Castle built in 1875:

RCHS Sugar Castle.jpg

RCHS sugar castle cu 1.jpg

RCHS sugar castle cu 2.jpg

Here's a disposable collar machine that once contained Troy made collars:

RCHS Collar machine.jpg

A collection of volumes of T'was the Night Before Christmas. Sheehan says
there's a dispute over whether the famous holiday poem was actually penned by Clement Moore or by a member of the Livingston family of Troy (neither has enough evidence to prove authorship) but she says there is no doubt it was first published in Troy.

RCHS T'was the night before christmas collection.jpg

In light of the current ballot fraud trial in Rensselaer County, we thought this old county ballot box was an interesting find:

RCHS Rensselaer County Ballott Box.jpg

And, since we've featured the first rolled toilet paper and the first holder for said toilet paper, here's a fancy early toilet:

RCHS Toilet.jpg

Thanks to Kathy Sheehan and Brenden Kennedy for the tour of the RCHS. You can see this and other interesting stuff at the RCHS.They host tours of the beautiful Hart-Cluett House the second Saturday of every month and by appointment.


If you're interested in bloody Lincoln artifacts, check out the Seward House in Auburn, NY. They have an impressive collection relating to the assassination on Lincoln and the attempted assassination of Seward. It's well worth the trip.

I think there used to be another lock of hair / chunk of skull they used to frighten us schoolchildren with in the Flag Room at the Capitol. Appropriate that we'd have such a memento since Lincoln first laid eyes on John Wilkes Booth here in Albany.

We need some RPI students to get busy on cloning Lincoln.

Carl, I remember the Capitol had a small frame with a snippet of bloody cloth in it. It was a bit of an evening gown that had been stained with Lincoln's blood. I don't recall if it was Clara Harris' dress or Laura Keene's, though from what I've read Clara's dress was mostly stained by the blood of her fiance (and step-brother) Henry Rathbone) and actress Laura Keene's had more of Lincoln's.

The little frame was in the same case as the jacket worn by Elmer Ellsworth when he became the first Union casualty of the Civil War. I haven't seen either in many years...I know the Ellsworth jacket went to the Military Museum in Saratoga so maybe the Lincoln blood went there as well.

Are we sure the blood is from the assassination and not from vampire hunting?

By the time Lincoln was president he had mostly curtailed his vampire hunting. The civil war was his proxy war against the entrenched southern vampires and their particular institution.

Does the "Triangle" logo on the collar machine refer to the Triangle Factory?

Thanks, Paula. Your memory is much better than mine, and now that you say it I do recall that it was a bloody dress fragment.

Having visited Philadelphia's Mutter Museum of medical oddities this weekend, I'll say that a little blood and hair has nothing on dessicated arms or a colon larger than a German shepherd.

Speaking of Lincoln's blood, I heard a nice ghost story related to the Rathbones of the cap district who were in the box with him at Ford's Theater when he was assassinated. Col. Henry Rathbone attempted to intervene and was cut seriously with Booth's dagger. He became despondent that he had not been able to save his president. He later married Clara Harris, the woman who was in the box with him, and eventually killed her in a blind rage and spent the rest of his life in an insane asylum.

Now for the ghost story, which was related by the tour guide at the Haunted Albany tour of the Capitol last Halloween: As newlyweds the Rathbones took up residence in Latham. Clara still had the bloody dress from the night at Ford's Theater and put it in the back of a closet hidden by a false wall. For years a thumping noise was heard in the house, thought to be Lincoln's ghost. A later owner of the house found the false wall, burned the dress, and Lincoln never visited again...

The cottage is in Loudonville. Here's the full story from the Troy Record.

Funny you should mention the story about the Harris dress and Lincoln's ghost because I was telling my partner about that haunting the day before this story was posted. It's one of my favorite local hauntings.

The house in question was for sale about a decade ago. I couldn't exactly afford Loundonville prices in the first place, but I've always joked that I'd gladly pay extra for a house with such a well-documented Lincoln haunting.

The fragment of Laura Keene's dress stained with Lincoln's blood is at the Military Museum in Saratoga Springs, though currently not displayed. It seems that some time after the assassination she cut the dress up- pieces are in several collections.

Triangle collars were a completely different company than the Triangle Shirtwaist Co.

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