Think you know everything about George Washington, the first president of the United States? Think again.
Here are just a few fun factoids: He didn’t have a middle name; and he was made an honorary French citizen in 1792.
Also, that whole cherry tree thing was apparently only an invention of the imaginative author Parson Weems.
Moreover, Mental Floss confirms that the hair depicted in historic photos is Washington’s real hair, not a wig.
And preliminary reports indicate that a few strands of that hair were recently found at Union College in Schenectady, NY.
In a news release, the college stated that the lock of hair was discovered inside of an envelope during a recent inventory review.
The envelope had been placed inside a weathered 18th century red leather almanac entitled, “Gaines Universal Register or American and British Kalendar for the Year 1793.”
According to officials, the six wispy strands were still bound together by a piece of string. India Spartz, who heads up the college’s special collections and archives, told news outlets that it wasn’t uncommon in Washington’s day to present a few hair strands as a memento.
It’s believed that the book in question once belonged to the son of General Philip Schuyler, one of Union College’s founders. Schuyler served under Washington during the Revolutionary War, and Spartz noted that “they were well connected.”
John Reznikoff, a respected Connecticut-based manuscripts and documents dealer, told college officials that “without DNA, you’re never positive” about the hair’s absolute legitimacy. But he also asserted that “I believe it’s 100 percent authentic.”
Furthermore, the envelope’s handwriting closely resembles writing on another note that accompanied a different lock of Washington’s hair. Those other strands are currently in the custody of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Union College researchers said their 18th century almanac contained several handwritten notes from Schuyler.
The small, yellowed envelope itself was inscribed “Washington’s hair, L.S.S. & GBS from James A. Hamilton given him by his mother, Aug. 10, 1871.”
The Schuyler Mansion, a state historic site in Albany, explained to school researchers that James Hamilton, third son of Alexander Hamilton, presented the hair strands to his granddaughters. Their names were Louisa Lee Schuyler and Georgina Schuyler — similar to the initials on the envelope.
“This is a very significant treasure,” Spartz told media outlets. “It’s a tremendous testament to history,” she said, “and our connection to some of the most important historical figures.”
Want to see these historic locks up close? College officials say they eventually plan to put them on public display.
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