Friday, July 9, 2021

Presidential Seafood: Clams and Oysters to 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 were one of those winner and haven't heard from me about your free book, let me know in the comments.

If you missed last month's post, you can view it here:

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.


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.

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?


* 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.


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 skills to become an award-winning, best-selling author and speaker who is also an advocate for literacy as an educational consultant with Usborne Books. She loves to share life-changing products and ideas with others to help better their lives.

She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, along with their two children, two dogs, and two cats in Colorado. She has sold twenty (24) books so far and is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. You can find her on Facebook and GoodReads.


  1. Near my hometown on a relatively obscure dirt road, the youngest daughter of Theodore Roosevelt owned a home. Ethel Roosevelt Derby used the home primarily as a summer home, but also would come in the winter and enjoy sledding on an amazing hill opposite their property. Locals still go to that spot to gaze on the wide vista of horizon that can be seen from that hill. Our own family calls it the "Million Dollar View". Thanks for the post!

    1. Also, I neglected to leave an email in last month's comment. Sorry. It's bcrug(at)twc(dot)com. If your books are a true series, I'd like the first one. Thank you so much.

    2. Connie, thanks for your email. I'll get in touch with you later today. That story of the sledding hill is so much fun. Imagine the fun tidbit in a story that would make. :)

  2. Tiff, your connection to President Wilson is both amazing and interesting. I have a slight connection to President Van Buren in that my great grandfather's first cousin was John Bancroft who was secretary of the Navy under Van Buren and he is one of the founders of Annapolis, the Naval academy. There's a dorm on the academy's campus called Bancroft Hall in his honor. I love how people who came from ordinary means rise to the top in politics, industry, or whatever. Great story!

    1. Pam, you're absolutely right. People coming from ordinary circumstances and rising to greatness is the core of the American Dream. You have a unique little tidbit in your family line too. :)

  3. Fascinating post! My maternal grandfather was a lifelong Democrat and acquainted with the Nixons. (My mom was never sure how the relationship came about). Grandpop attended Tricia Nixon's wedding in 1971 and a photo hung on his wall with him, the Nixon's and his daughter. The closest I ever got to a president was periodically catching a glimpse of President Clinton during his morning jog in DC. We also live about an hour from Kennebunk, ME and often drive past the Bush home, but have never seen anyone.

    1. Linda, wow! A photo with the Nixons from their daughter's wedding. Quite the legacy indeed. Sometimes that greatest of relationships starts with the simplest of connections. :)

  4. Welcome. What a wonderful legacy to have. I love the letters and who they were written to and from. And that coin. What a wonderful thing it would be to put with your letters. I took a tour of the white house in 1978 during the summer. Our class of US History took a tour of part of the united states that dealt with the presidents and their homes, etc. It was fascinating. We got to sit and watch congress work for a short while. Back then it was a bit different than now. I dont really have too much connection to a US president. Two of my ancestors, 3X great got land grants personally signed by the president. quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

    1. Lori, that is a fun little tour. I've done it myself. :) As for that coin, it *would* be amazing IF I could find it. Times certainly have changed and connections to presidents or politicians certainly isn't what it used to be. Bring back the simpler days!

  5. What a fascinating story! I have been to the White House, but not on a tour. It was our high school graduation trip - we did tour the Capitol, which was absolutely incredible. I am a first generation American - my parents were both born in Russia, around the time of the Russian Revolution. I think the letters are an amazing keepsake and I love the coin!!
    I believe I was one of those who commented on your last post, but I have not heard from you about a free book.
    bettimace at gmail dot com

    1. Betti, you should have an email from me. :) Touring the Capital IS fascinating, at least it used to be. I remember touring the state legislature and government buildings in Dover, DE during high school. Actually met Joe Biden way back in the day. Odd and creepy even 30+ years ago. Lol!
      I bet your grandparents had stories to tell! Amazing to think your parents were born around the Revolution and survived! That's like my grandfather being born at the start of WWI yet losing almost all of his family to the war or the Spanish Flu.