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18th Century Book Yields Major Presidential Artifact

An almanac sitting on the shelves of an upstate New York college yielded more than just historical facts and an account from the 18th century – it revealed an incredibly rare artifact.

A leather-bound book titled “Gaines Universal Register or American and British Kalendar for the Year 1793,” contained within its covers an item rarely seen by historians.

A lock of white hair tucked away has been determined to be that of one of our nation’s Founding Fathers, America’s first president, George Washington.

The book containing the rare find was located at Union College in Schenectady after an inventory review of the library.

“This is a very significant treasure,” said India Spartz, the head of the college’s special collections and archives. “It’s a tremendous testament to history and our connection to some of the most important historical figures.”

John Reznikoff, a noted manuscripts and documents dealer, believes the silver locks are indeed authentic.

“Without DNA, you’re never positive, but I believe it’s 100 percent authentic,” Reznikoff said.

The tale of the treasured book reads like a who’s who of founding fathers and historical figures.

The almanac is believed to have belonged to Philip J. Schuyler, the son of Gen. Philip Schuyler, a close friend of Washington who served under him during the Revolutionary War.

“The Washington and Schuyler families were close friends,” notes Heidi Hill, site manager of the state-run Schuyler Mansion. “Locks of hair were given out frequently as mementos in that era, the way you’d give a photograph today.”

Schuyler was also Alexander Hamilton’s father-in law, and the hair is believed to have been given as a keepsake to the third son of Hamilton and his wife, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton.

An envelope accompanying the lock of Washington’s hair reads, “Washington’s hair, L.S.S. & (scratched out) GBS from James A. Hamilton given him by his mother, Aug. 10, 1871.”

What an incredible find just days before we celebrate President’s Day!

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