Gifts poured into the White House after the Lincolns moved in. Two of the favorite ones were goats named Nanny and Nanko. The President's sons hitched Nanny and Nanko to carts or kitchen chairs and drove them through the main floor of the White House. One time Tad harnessed Nanko to a chair and drove through the East Room during a White House reception. Dignified women pulled up their hoop skirts as Tad drove around the room and out the door again.

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Tad Lincoln and his father

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Willie Lincoln

Nanko once got out and dug up the bulbs planted by John Watt (White House gardener). The President, who loved activities with his sons, sometimes played with the boys and goats on the grounds of the White House. Nanny was taken to the Soldiers' Home but caused such destruction to the flowers that she was returned to the White House. One day she was discovered lying in the middle of Tad's bed and chewing her cud. After that she disappeared. On August 8, 1863, Mr. Lincoln wrote a letter to his vacationing wife. In it he said,


"Tell dear Tad, poor 'Nanny Goat', is lost; and Mrs. Cuthbert & I are in distress about it. The day you left Nanny was found resting herself, and chewing her little cud, on the middle of Tad's bed. But now she's gone! The gardener kept complaining that she destroyed the flowers, till it was concluded to bring her down to the White House. This was done, and the second day she had disappeared, and has not been heard of since. This is the last we know of poor 'Nanny'."

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The Anderson Cottage at the Soldiers' Home Where Nanny Destroyed the Flowers

See p. 309 and p. 449 of David Herbert Donald's "Lincoln." Also, p. 59 of LaVere Anderson's "Mary Todd Lincoln: President's Wife."

Mary Lincoln's Research Site Lincoln's Research Site

Fido the Dog

Jack the White House Turkey

Abraham Lincoln and the 3 Kittens

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