Most people are pretty divided on whether or not they believe in ghosts and other spiritual entities. As it turns out, former first kid Jenna Bush Hager is among those who are sure they’ve experienced paranormal activity in their lives — and it happened while she and her family resided in the White House.
Jenna shared the spooky story on October 15, 2018, while filling in for Kathie Lee Gifford on the TODAY show. Co-host Hoda Kotb first admitted that she has “felt people’s presence,” referring to those who have passed on. Jenna went even further while detailing a night in the White House bedroom she shared with her sister, Barbara. As she explains, the twins were suddenly woken up when Jenna’s phone started ringing. It wasn’t someone on the other line who gave the girls chills, however, but something that seemed to be coming from their fireplace.
“All of a sudden, we started hearing 1920s piano music — as clear as day — coming out of the fireplace,” Jenna claimed. “I jumped in Barbara’s bed! The next week we heard the same thing, but opera.” When she confided the story to a White House worker named Buddy, he ominously replied, “Oh Jenna, you wouldn’t believe what I’ve heard.” Did anyone else just get goose bumps? Check out the video below to hear the story from Jenna herself:
Jenna and her sister aren’t the first to think they’ve witnessed a message from “the beyond” while at the White House. Even presidents have blamed the supernatural when things went bump in the night. In a 1946 letter from President Harry S. Truman to his wife, which has been documented by his official presidential library, Truman described an eerie early morning disturbance:
“At four o’clock I was awakened by three distinct knocks on my bedroom door. I jumped up and put on my bathrobe, opened the door, and no one was there. Went out and looked up and down the hall, looked into your room and Margie’s [his daughter]. Still no one. Went back to bed after locking the doors and there were footsteps in your room whose door I’d left open. Jumped and looked and no one there! The damned place is haunted sure as shootin’. Secret service said not even a watchman was up here at that hour.”
He added before concluding the letter, “You and Margie had better come back and protect me before some of these ghosts carry me off.” Sure, Truman might have just been trying to entertain his family while they were away from him, but that doesn’t make the story any less stirring.
Abraham Lincoln was also said to be on both sides of haunting situations. First, he and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln claimed to have regular visits from their late son, Willie, who died at the age of 11. Then after his own passing in 1865, old Abe has reportedly been seen by White House visitors — especially, and understandably, in the Lincoln Bedroom.
Perhaps the most notorious example, according to History.com, is a claim from former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. While on one of his many visits during World War II, Churchill says he was greeted by Lincoln’s spirit at the White House. However, Abe apparently didn’t have the best timing as he decided to appear while the prime minister was getting out of the bathtub — before he had a chance to get his clothes on.
With all the history surrounding one of the most important buildings in the United States, it’s no surprise some folks believe a few of its famous inhabitants have decided to stick around long after their passing. And even if there’s no truth to the spine-tingling tales, they are still fun to think about!