Saturday, July 9, 2016

Clams and Oysters in the White House?

By Tiffany Amber Stockton



Last month, the story of my grandfather (Pop-pop) found its way into the posts on this blog and I held a book giveaway, deciding to offer a free book to each one of the six ladies who left a comment.

If you missed last month's post, you can view it here: http://www.hhhistory.com/2016/06/daniel-w-gault-chincoteague.html.

This month, I'll be sharing about how my great-grandfather provided clams and oysters to the White House and received personal thanks from the President himself.

MY GREAT-GRANDFATHER, DANIEL WESLEY GAULT, SR.


Daniel W. Gault, Sr. &
Carrie (Jester) Gault
As I mentioned last month, my mother's grandparents, Daniel W. Gault, Sr. and Carrie Jester Gault, had both been married before but lost their respective spouses and brought one child each to their marriage. Around the time of the first World War, my great-grandfather had been running a successful business on Chincoteague Island as a barber with his own barber shop, and he would often join with other islanders or "watermen" in harvesting his own personal supply of oysters and clams.

When you travel just a little north of Chincoteague, you run into highway 50, which takes you across the Chesapeake Bay and straight into Washington, D.C. Another part of my family had been immersed in the Washington society for over 100 years prior to World War I through their involvement with the Washington elite as well as the politicians who frequented the Galt Jewelers retail location. This is the same line of Galt's who owned and operated the Galt Jewelers I referenced last month, the oldest business in the District, founded and opened in 1802.

Edith
Bolling
Galt
Wilson
President Woodrow Wilson &
Edith Bolling Galt Wilson
On December 18, 1915, President Wilson married Edith Bolling Galt (my great-grandfather's 1st cousin through marriage) in her Washington, D.C. home. Wilson had lost  his first wife the year before due to a kidney ailment. Edith was the wealthy widow of a jewelry store owner and a member of Washington high society. She and Wilson were introduced by his cousin and a mutual friend. Unlike Wilson's first wife who was shy and avoided politics, Edith shared Wilson's passion, leading to a whirlwind courtship and marriage.

President Woodrow Wilson
Despite a slight family feud which led to the Galt name being changed to Gault among some family lines in the mid-1800s, Daniel and his cousin Edith remained close. As a result, when Edith entered the White House as the First Lady, she was instrumental in arranging for her cousin, Daniel, to deliver some clams and oysters directly to the president. My great-grandfather had heard President Wilson loved them, and since he was right there on the island, he was in prime "supply" position to provide.

This continued for the next seven years and through World War I, while Wilson remained president. Although my great-grandfather focused his work as a barber and provided those services to many friends and family on Chincoteague Island, as well as customers coming from the mainland, he reserved a special batch of the personal clams and oysters he harvested for the president and his cousin.

handwritten letter from
President Wilson
There were again many stories told to me as a young girl, and this story in particular became very real to me when my mother showed me not one, not two, but SIX hand-written letters from President Wilson himself, addressed to my great-grandfather and thanking him in some way for the clams and oysters, as well as discussing other issues pertaining to the times. Although I do not have electronic copies of these letters, I do have other letters from President Wilson available to show. One is hand-written and the other is typed with President Wilson's signature on it.

typed letter from
President Wilson
About twenty years ago, my mother and I went to one of those antiques dealers shows and took those letters with us. We were curious about their authenticity and if they were even worth anything. One dealer verified them as authentic and offered us nearly $1000 per letter if we decided to part with them. My mother asked me what I wanted to do, since it was my legacy. After deliberating for over an hour, I finally decided to keep two original letters and part with four -- but not before copies were made of the ones we would be selling, so I could still have all six.

To this day, those two letters are enclosed in protective sheets, and the copies of the other four are in a folder with them. Did I make a mistake in selling four of those letters? I don't believe so, but I am curious what happened to them, and if I'll ever see them again.

front face of $10 gold coin
rear face of $10 gold coin
One very cool thing I found during my research for this post is there was a $10 gold coin struck in the U.S. Mint at West Point commemorating Edith Wilson's time as First Lady. It was released in 2013, but uncirculated. The front is a replica of a sculpting done of Edith, and the back symbolizes Edith's support of President Wilson following his stroke. Her hand is resting atop his as he holds his cane. That would be an amazing keepsake to add to my heirloom collection, wouldn't you agree?


NOW IT'S YOUR TURN:

* Select one unique fact from the post above that stood out to you and share why it appealed to you.

* Have you ever been to The White House, whether on a tour or for some other reason? When did you go and why?

* Do you have any connection to any American president, no matter how small? What is it? Could be as simple as being somewhere to hear a president give a speech live or attending an inauguration ceremony.

Leave answers to these questions or any comments on the post below. Next month, I'll be sharing about my great-grandfather's cousin (Edith Galt) who married President Woodrow Wilson while he was president. Come back on the 9th of August to find out more.


BIO

Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having a very active imagination and cited with talking entirely too much. Today, she has honed those childhood skills to become an author and speaker who has partnered with Nerium International in the anti-aging and personal development industry, helping others become their best from the inside out.

She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have one girl and one boy, and a Retriever mix named Roxie. She has sold twenty (21) books so far and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. You can also find her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and LinkedIn.

11 comments:

  1. I LOVE that coin. How remarkable to have that image of the hands. It's lovely!!!

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    1. I agree, Connie. It was a surprise bonus discovered in my research.

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  2. I love that your cousin came to know the president because of shellfish! Food brings everyone closer together!

    I've been to the White House twice, in high school. A 4H winner and a speech winner for Rural Electric. I met Jimmy Carter on the latter.

    My granddad Knell and Brother Adams led the Inargual Parade for President Truman, with their Missouri Show Me mules! Truman was born in Lamar, MO. Grandad and Adams flipped a coin to see who would sit on the side of the wagon, closest to the grandstand, my grandad won.

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    1. missionwife@hotmail.com

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    2. Hehe. This is true, Melody. Food can always bridge the gap with people.

      Very cool about your wins that led you to the White House. Quite an honor. And I love the flipping of the coin to see who would sit closest to the grandstand. If only all negotiations were completed so easily. :)

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  3. This is such an interesting post. When I was in junior high, I went to Woodrow wilson Junior High, so I've always been a bit interested in his life. I think the gold piece is beautiful. I especially think the gold coin is beautiful for the symbolism on the back. Yes, I think it would be a great addition to your collection!
    may_dayzee(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. I might not have agreed with some of President Wilson's policies, but being slightly related to him has created a great deal of fascination in his life. That gold coin discovery makes me want to figure out how to get my hands on one. :)

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  4. I think that the whole post is fascinating....so cool. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Our son-in-law was a member of the Secret Service, posted in the West Wing during George W Bush's Presidency. After an extensive background check, my husband and I toured the West Wing with him and my daughter! It was a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget. I really enjoy your History lessons, Amber!
    Dblaser(at)windstream(dot)net

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    1. Wow! That IS a fantastic experience. I know when I was in elementary school, the honor students took a trip to D.C. and I had the chance to tour all of the White House. Don't remember much, and cameras weren't allowed, but I do recall being inside. :)

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