By Jennifer Young
There are all sorts of American relics related to Presidents and First Families collected all over the country. George Washington’s comfy leather and white oak chair is displayed at Mount Vernon as is his wife’s initialed ‘tea china’ covered cup. The Smithsonian Institute is home to Abraham Lincoln’s famed top hat and Jackie Kennedy’s 1961 silk chiffon inaugural gown is showcased at the National Museum of American Art.
A rather more unusual artifact associated with Mary Todd Lincoln can be viewed at the Batavia Depot Museum located in Batavia, Illinois. If you’re in the area, stop in to check out the former First Lady’s sanitarium bed, where she slept when her son had her committed for what was described as erratic behavior.
On May 19, 1875, Robert Todd Lincoln, the eldest son of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, had his mother forcibly taken to a courthouse in Chicago where she was declared to be “insane.” She was then committed to Bellevue Place, a mental institution and private rest home for women. Mary spent a few months in the Batavia sanitarium before she was released into her sister’s care in Springfield, IL–against the advice of her sanitarium doctor. The bed and dresser that Mary used during her sanitarium stay are now showcased at the Batavia Depot Museum.