Most people in America are familiar with 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, AKA the White House. However, not everyone realizes the Oval Office is one of the most haunted locations in the US.
There are several creepy White House stories involving ghosts and other attic horrors. Both Jane Pierce and Mary Lincoln reportedly held séances while residing there, with Abraham Lincoln in attendance at least once.
One of the most puzzling White House ghost stories involves the spirit of a teenager who was repeatedly spotted during William Taft's presidency. Nicknamed "The Thing," the ghost liked to reach out and touch White House servants, though few ever saw it physically appear. For whatever reason, President Taft was infuriated by the tale, so most discussion of The Thing was wiped from historical records.
In 1911, The Thing Was One Of The White House's Dark SecretsPhoto: The Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons
Many of the details surrounding the ghost referred to as "The Thing" remain a mystery. While accounts vary wildly as to when the ghost first appeared, it was nicknamed "The Thing" in 1911 during Taft's presidency.
It seems like the nickname came from Major Archibald Butt, President Taft's military aide. In a letter to his sister Clara, Butt described the entity:
It seems that the White House is haunted... The ghost, it seems, is a young boy—from its description, I should think about fourteen or fifteen years old... They say that the first knowledge one has of the presence of the Thing is a slight pressure on the shoulder, as if someone were leaning over your shoulder to see what you might be doing.
Butt gleamed information from conversations with other White House staff members. However, when word of The Thing reached President Taft, he became enraged, as he was scared the story might spread to the public. He ordered everyone to keep quiet about The Thing, and said anyone who mentioned its presence would be fired.
The Thing Was Felt But Not Seen
While many people reportedly encountered The Thing, few caught glimpses of it.
Instead, some recall feeling a slight pressure on their shoulder, almost as though someone were leaning over them to see what they were doing. The repeated encounters caused staff to argue about whether ghosts were capable of touching people, and the practical implications of feeling a ghost.
Even for non-believers, it's hard to dismiss the claims when so many people in the White House described the exact same sensation. While no definitive proof exists, the staff who felt the ghost's touch are confident it was the hand of a spirit.
President Taft Was Secretly Fascinated By GhostsPhoto: Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons
President Taft was very upset about his staff's acknowledgement of The Thing. While publicly, the president condemned the stories, he was secretly eager to learn anything he could about the spirit.
In addition to The Thing, Taft was the first person who allegedly laid eyes on the ghost of Abigail Adams. During his time in the White House, Taft claimed to have repeatedly seen Adams's ghost floating around the second floor, the same part of the house where she used to hang laundry.
A Maid Was The First Person To See The Ghost
Even though many people felt The Thing's touch, its appearance remained a mystery. Then, out of nowhere, one of Helen Taft's maids actually laid eyes on The Thing.
The maid, who was known as Marsh, gave the first recorded physical description of the ghost. Marsh stated the spirit was a boy who appeared to be a teen, and said he had messy hair and sad blue eyes.