Volume 22, Issue 01
January 2020
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“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”  - Theodore Roosevelt

Some Changes Come to the Rough Writer
After almost 20 years of editing the Rough Writer and establishing it as the “go to” source for volunteer news and updates, tour tips, Site information, and the always popular trivia question, Milton Elis has retired as full-time editor. At the last VAB meeting, several of us offered to continue publishing the Rough Writer with help from a variety of volunteers, the expertise of computer savvy staff, and Milton’s continuing advice. Milton set the bar high for a variety of timely information. We thank him, and we hope we can provide you with the same.  

Since the Rough Writer is a publication for and by volunteers, we invite you to submit article ideas for future issues. At present, we hope to publish the Rough Writer quarterly. In the past, there was both a digital edition of the Rough Writer and a separately formatted print edition. The paper version required additional hours that our curatorial staff could no longer provide. The next issue of the Rough Writer will come out in early April. Please send your ideas, volunteer news, and suggestions to the email address below or speak with any member of the editorial board.  

RW Editorial Board:  
Joe DeFranco, Lou Gottfried, Nancy Hall, Charlotte Miska, Janet Parga, Mary Ann Reardon, Toby Selda, and Robin Wexle r
Sagamore Hill Says Farewell to Kelly Fuhrmann and Hello to Jonathan Parker
by Paul Cecere
Kelly Fuhrmann and his family have moved on to El Morro and El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico leaving the Gray Cottage vacant once again. Having completed my Transitional Acting Superintendent Detail here at Sagamore Hill, I return to Preservation and Maintenance.

We welcome Jonathan Parker as the Acting Superintendent on a 120-day detail starting on November 24th and continuing through March 21, 2020. Jonathan comes to us from Valley Forge National Historical Park in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania where he served as Chief of Interpretation, a position he previously held at Salem Maritime and Saugus Iron Works National Historic Sites in Massachusetts.

When introducing himself to several volunteers recently, Jonathan proudly recalled starting his own experience with the National Park Service as a volunteer and has never lost his enthusiasm for helping to fulfill the mission of the Organic Act which established the NPS. Jonathan likes to remind us all that the purpose of the Parks is not only to conserve, but to provide enjoyment. He said, “I’m honored to have the opportunity to work alongside the outstanding staff and partners at Sagamore Hill, and I look forward to assisting the park with the ongoing preservation of this cherished family home and telling the stories of Roosevelt's dynamic contributions to American land conservation, foreign policy, and public service.”

Parker holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Education from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, and is an Eagle Scout.  Welcome to Sagamore Hill, Acting Superintendent Parker.
Sagamore Hill Volunteers and Staff
Make Holiday Donations 
Thanks to all who made a holiday donation for a needy child or family. Your generous donations of books, toys, and winter scarves and socks were given to the First Presbyterian Church, Oyster Bay, and Partners in Giving Inter-religious and Human Needs Council Christmas gift drive. The First Presbyterian Church of Oyster Bay was TR’s childhood church.
Theodore Roosevelt Legacy Partnership Events
by Bill Reed
Kicking off the fall 2019 Theodore Roosevelt Legacy Partnerships Events on October 23 was the TRLP Fundraiser featuring Anna Roosevelt, the former president’s great-granddaughter, who shared her memories of Sagamore Hill and what TR's legacy has meant to her.

Anna described how as a child, she and other children enjoyed an almost idyllic freedom at Sagmaore Hill, where they would go bare-footed and explore the forests, beaches, and waterways. As a child, Anna was more interested in playing than politics. However as an adult, she said that she did not always agree with her great-grandfather’s politics, especially his stand against women’s suffrage.

The following day, October 24, Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy was explored by historians, scientists, environmentalists, and authors during the day-long TR Legacy Conference at Hofstra University.

Keynote speakers included acclaimed Roosevelt “reprisor” Joe Wiegand, who spoke about how his own life, to some extent, was an inheritor of TR’s legacy, and American History professor, Michael Patrick Cullinane, author of Theodore Roosevelt’s Ghost: The History and Memory of an American Icon .

Other distinguished speakers and topics included:
  • “Water Conservation: Living Within Our Means” presented by Sarah Meyland, the Director at the Center for Water Resources Management at NYIT
  • “TR, Upton Sinclair and the Poison Squad: The Great 20th Century Food Battle” featured Sarah Lohman, author and food historian
  • “TR, Women’s Suffrage, and Voting Issues Today” conducted by Natalie Naylor, President of the Nassau County Historical Society & Professor Emerita at Hofstra University with assistance from Antonia Petrash of the League of Women Voters
  • “Our National Parks and the Real Vision of Theodore Roosevelt” presented by Brother Lawrence Syriac, American History teacher at Chaminade High School and President of the Friends of Sagamore Hill
  • “Walks in the Woods, Conservation and Preservation on Long Island” conducted by Jane Jackson from North Shore Land Alliance and Leslie Pieters from Roosevelt High School
  • “TR and the Media” featured Peter Kohler, Adjunct Professor at LIU, and David Greenberg, Rutgers University Professor and Author of “Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency”

Attendees included students from Oyster Bay, Roosevelt, and Uniondale High Schools and members of Hofstra’s PEIR (Personal Enrichment in Retirement) group.

Representatives from the Theodore Roosevelt Association (TRA), the Friends of Sagamore Hill (FOSH), the National Park Service at Sagamore Hill, the Nassau and Oyster Bay Historical Societies, the League of Women Voters, and the Theodore Roosevelt Legacy Partnership (TRLP) were also on hand.

Feedback from Conference evaluations were positive with participants commending the committee for a well-organized and informative experience. TRLP President, Bill Reed extended thanks to all the volunteers, Park Staff, friends, and family who handled all the activities at the Conference. These include Nancy Hall, Robin Wexler, Toby Selda, Charlotte Miska, Elena Rivas, Dan Karas, Brenda Cherry, Ginny and Jay Perrell, Betsy Davidson, Donna Reed, Sue Sarna, Paul Cecere, Laura Cinturati, Lana Dubin, Bill Wallace, and Scott Gurney.

The Conference Planning Committee included Dave Distler, Valerie Kamin (who arranged for Anna Roosevelt to attend), Brenda Cherry, Howard Erhlich, Kelly Furhmann, Dan Karas, Nancy Hall, Nathaniel Leies, Bill Miller, Josh Reyes, Elena Rivas, Sue Sarna, Denice Shepherd, Richard Siegelman, Margaret Stacey, and the staff at Hofstra: Melissa Connolly, Johanna Farrell, and Becky Gabriel.

The purpose of the Conference was to provide the attendees a chance to hear what Roosevelt’s legacy was; how TR's legacy is being continued today; and invite participants to advance his legacy by participating in it.

The first two components being accomplished, it’s left to the participants to accomplish the next. In the words of TR – “Take Action!”
Welcome New SAHI Staff and Volunteer
by Milton Elis
Emily Hance has joined us as Administrative Assistant to Julie Abbate. A five-year veteran of the National Park Service, Emily previously served at Weir Farm in interpretation and at Fire Island National Seashore, also in interpretation. A native of Middle Island, Emily is a graduate of Brandeis University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in history and philosophy. Emily is excited to be returning to Long Island and becoming a member of the Sagamore Hill family. 
Stuart Horowitz ’s first association with Sagamore Hill came sometime in the early 60’s when he attended a Boy Scout Camporee on the grounds. Since that auspicious occasion, he has completed a 50-year career in public education, the last 40 as a librarian in the Harborfields School District in Greenlawn. He has also served on the Board of Trustees of the South Huntington Public Library and continues to volunteer at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead. Stuart and his wife of 46 years are avid travelers. Stuart will be joining the curatorial team enhancing and updating the book entries into the NPS catalog system ICMS.
Sagamore Hill Welcomes New Intern
by Nancy Hall
F all at Sagamore Hill not only ushers in cooler weather and flaming oranges and reds in the maples and beech trees throughout the Park but also sees some additional personnel. This Fall, Lauren Berger began her stint as the newest member of the Student Conservation Association, a branch of AmeriCorps. She will be here until May 30, 2020.
Originally from Westchester, Lauren graduated from Occidental College in California, where she received a degree in geology with a concentration in environmental science. Since graduation, Lauren has volunteered at Yellowstone NP in the summer, working in the Night Sky programs. Looking up seems to be one of her favorite activities since she also served on the Mars Insight Lander mission operations team and as a landing site analyst for the 2020 Rover. 

When she’s not looking skyward, Lauren also loves to hike and read and is a conscientious collector of memorable quotations — building her own personal Bartlett’s! 

During her time at Sagamore Hill, Lauren will be assisting staff in a variety of projects and giving tours of the TRH. Whatever her tasks here, you’ll be able to recognize Lauren by her enthusiastic manner and "stellar" smile.

Welcome to the team, Lauren. 
The Crowded 1,700 Hours
Reflections of a Sagamore Hill AmeriCorps Intern
by Nathaniel Leies
An old adage says that anyone who wants to master what they do must practice for 10,000 hours. If that’s the case, I will be 17% of the way when my internship program ends and I leave Sagamore Hill in January.

While I am not joining the Sagamore Hill Staff 10,000 hour club (population 1: Scott Gurney), what I did this year is far more important than that. I lived and worked at the home of our beloved Theodore Roosevelt — an experience that thousands of people my age will never get to do and may never even realize is possible. 

For everything that I experienced this last year and people who shared this time in my life, I am grateful. 

I joined Sagamore Hill through an internship program that is offered by AmeriCorps, known as the Community Volunteer Ambassador program. National Parks across the country participate by recruiting young people like myself to work at their parks and bolster the parks’ volunteer programs. As a member of the 2019 CVA class, I am one of 53 interns worldwide who work for the NPS. We are scattered across the country, with many of my co-interns in places like Bryce Canyon, Zion, Indiana Dunes, Fire Island, and Anchorage Alaska. One young woman even works at the WW2 memorial in Guam.
Over the last year, and last 1,700 hours of volunteer service, Sagamore Hill gave me the opportunity to discover a new dimension of my love for history. I learned the value of sharing interesting stories with visitors and engaging them in the life of a one-of-a-kind president. I learned the value of preservation — that the objects that surround us are important pieces of the time in which we live, and contribute a great deal to reconstructing the past. I learned that people can and do connect with many of the values the Roosevelts lived by, despite inhabiting different time periods. 

As for myself, I learned that preserving history and preserving natural places are two of the most important things I can do with my life, and that no matter where I end up, or what I do for my employment, I will always work towards protecting history and natural places.
I am going to miss everyone here at Sagamore Hill. I will miss walking through the house, spending time with volunteers in the back office, and contributing to the park.

Though there will not be another CVA joining you next year, I encourage you to welcome all interns with the same kindness you have shown me and to take interest in their growth. 

What’s next on my journey from here? As I write this Rough Writer article in mid-December, I am applying for jobs within the Department of the Interior, as well as in the private sector. I am not sure where I will end up, but I am certain that no matter where I go, I will pursue the things I care about, which, after all, is the reason that I decided to make Theodore Roosevelt’s Sagamore Hill my home. 

Volunteer Christine Ghent Has Retired
by Milton Elis
Chris Ghent is the site’s longest serving volunteer, having come aboard in 1987, right after she retired as a school librarian for the City of Glen Cove. Her service time at Sagamore Hill has all been in the Curatorial Division. Every Tuesday for the past 32 years between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., Chris could be found in one of several rooms in the TRH, cataloging books in the North Room and the Library or wherever books were to be found. She also discovered letters and notes in many of the books which gave additional insight into the Roosevelt family.

In 1996, when volunteer Rita Onorato and I joined Chris working in Curatorial, the three of us tackled the linen closet on the second floor of the TRH. The room was stuffed to overflowing with items that the TRA had put on the shelves to make the room look more impressive. With Chris’s cataloging skills, and Rita’s attention to detail, we checked every item, and those linens that definitely didn’t belong to TR and Edith were marked for deaccession. When not volunteering in the morning at Sagamore Hill, Chris operated a Bed and Breakfast from her home, 30 years before Airbnb was born. Chris also acted as the Sunday librarian for the Reform Synagogue in Glen Cove. A devoted practitioner of Tai Chi, Chris has always been in great shape. Unfortunately, recent health issues have forced Chris to retire from volunteering.

Bob Ghent, Chris’s late husband, occasionally visited the Site and took photos and movies of tours. One day he was filming a tour given by Volunteer Dick Brummer. Dick told the group of high school students how TR encouraged his children to ask guests any question they wanted to ask. When Dick asked one boy what he would like to ask (then) Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, the boy replied, “Mr. Gingrich, who are you?” 

While some high school students might still not know who Newt Gingrich is (or was), there’s no mistaking who Christine Ghent is and was — a devoted, professional, skilled, and always cheerful volunteer. Her contributions to this Site and the friendships that she forged here at Sagamore Hill are sincerely appreciated, and we will miss seeing her here each Tuesday.
Volunteer Advisory Board Elects New Members
by Nancy Hall
Three new members were elected and two members were re-elected to the Volunteer Advisory Board at its October 16 meeting. New members Janet Parga, Mike Sassi, and Charlotte Miska along with returning members, Valerie Kamin and Lois Lindberg, will serve three-year terms each.
Attendees at the popular “Lunch and Learn” lectures are familiar with Janet Parga ’s well-received presentations on the art in the TRH as well as her latest exploration into the history and stories behind some of the furniture in the President’s home.  Mike Sassi is the consummate tour guide and enthusiastic explainer of “fun with physics” to young visitors on special holidays at the Site. When not at Sagamore Hill, Mike is also a docent at the mansion at Old Westbury Gardens and the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City.  Charlotte Miska , an avid birder (TR would approve) can be found working the Conference Room computer, entering Collections data for the Curatorial Division on Thursdays and will be using those skills to work on the new editorial board of the Rough Writer. Returning Board member, Valerie Kamin is a Thursday guide in the TRH and has served on the steering committee of the Theodore Roosevelt Legacy Committee for the past two years.  Lois Lindberg , our resident naturalist and co-founder of the “Lunch and Learn” sessions, continues on the Board and leads grounds hikes and bird walks on weekends and special events days. The Board thanks each of the new and returning members for their contributions and willingness to serve.

The VAB is a liaison between the volunteers and administration and staff.  All volunteers are invited to attend Board meetings, make suggestions and share ideas that will enhance our volunteer experience and better serve visitors to the Site.  

Current members of the Board include Nancy Hall, Chair, Robin Wexler, Secretary, Dave Distler, Joe DeFranco, Alexis Barr, Pinky Feakes, Ginny Perrell, Lou Gottfried, Charlotte Miska, Janet Parga, Mike Sassi, Lois Lindberg, Valerie Kamin, Jeremy Hoyt, and Josh Reyes. Milton Elis and Bill Reed are past Chairmen of the VAB.
Dee-lightful Discoveries
by Toby Selda and the Volunteer Curatorial Team
While working in the archives at Sagamore Hill, we sometimes come across priceless stories to do with TR, his family, and his home. They may not all be new to you, but perhaps you don’t know their primary source. That’s where we come in! Feel free to send us stories you have heard, and we will do our best to trace their roots and possibly include them in an upcoming edition of the Rough Writer. If you are a tour guide, maybe you will even find a story to include in one of your tours!

Heating and Lighting Sagamore Hill
Even though there were two coal burning furnaces and many wood-burning fireplaces at Sagamore Hill, the President’s home often got cold and drafty in winter. Edith once said, “We have plenty of coal but a bird cage is hard to heat.” (1)

A lot of wood was needed to keep the more than 10 fireplaces and various stoves burning. According to Ethel, “Kermit and I were, I’m afraid, rather wicked. At Sagamore there was a dumbwaiter which brought the wood up to the different floors for the fireplaces. And that was our favorite place. It was strictly forbidden, but we’d get in it and haul ourselves up and down. If anybody opened the door, we could keep ourselves from being caught by judiciously pulling the wrong way on the ropes.” (2)

The Telephone
TR didn’t like talking on the telephone. He thought it was a needless modern day gadget. (3) However, when he became President, TR finally agreed with advisors that a telephone at Sagamore Hill was needed. Up to that time, messengers had to cycle several miles from Snouder’s Drug Store in Oyster Bay to Sagamore Hill every time the president received a phone call. Once, one of the children’s friends called and TR answered the phone. When the boy was told that Quentin was not at home, he responded, “Well, you’ll do.” TR always thought it was so nice that the boy felt the President of the United States “would do” to transmit a message for a small boy! (4)

When TR was not taking phone messages for his children (or tending to more pressing presidential calls), one could find him in the woods around Sagamore Hill, his handy axe at the ready, following a favorite pastime chopping wood. He once chopped so vigorously that he cut down one of the newly installed telephone poles by mistake. Archie Butt recalled hearing TR say to Ambassador Jusserand that Edith never let him forget it! TR added, “That telephone will never ring now that my wife will not begin to chuckle to herself, and if the cursed thing ever gets out of order, which it frequently does, she will tell the servant to see if the wires are still up or if the trees are down!" (5)

After leaving the White House, TR ordered the telephone removed from Sagamore Hill, saying it was nothing but a nuisance. It was only because of protests by the children that it is allowed to remain.” (3)

  1. Edith Kermit Roosevelt to Anna Roosevelt Cowles, Feb., 1918.
  2. Shapiro, Harriet. “A Visit with Ethel Roosevelt Derby.” Ms Magazine, August, 1976.
  3. Roosevelt, Eleanor Butler Alexander. Day Before Yesterday: The Reminiscences of Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. New York: Doubleday, 1959, 56.
  4. Edith Roosevelt Derby, interview with William Ingersoll at SAHI. April 17, 1962.
  5. Archie Butt to his mother, Jan. 29, 1912. The Intimate Letters of Archie Butt, Vol. 2: 832. New York: Doubleday, 1930.
Last Lunch and Learn of 2019
Volunteer Lois Lindberg was the featured speaker at the last Lunch and Learn session of the year. Her presentation focused on the wildlife, birds, fish, and fauna that shared space with TR and his family. The horseshoe crabs of Eel Creek, the grasses, flowers, and trees that no longer grow on the property, and the invasive species that have taken over were highlights of her talk. An expert naturalist, Lois's lecture covered examples found in the meadow between the TRH and Old Orchard, the nature trails, the waterfront, and the sky. Lois, co-founder of the Lunch and Learn series with Toby Selda, not only makes presentations on the natural world that is so closely associated with TR's passions and legacy, but she also leads frequent weekend nature walks. Neither should be missed.
Annual Volunteer and Staff Holiday Party
by Nancy Hall
Following the tradition of an annual holiday party, this year’s gathering was held again at Cafe Al Dente in Oyster Bay. Thanks to the Friends of Sagamore Hill for underwriting a portion of the cost per ticket and for making all the arrangements for the buffet dinner. As was true of last year’s party, everyone enjoyed the Italian buffet, and kudos to the chef for keeping us all well supplied with refills of delicious pasta, chicken, meatballs, and calamari. Special thanks also go again to Ginny and Jay Perrell for organizing the event, to Janet Parga for her donations of poinsettias for each table, to Ellen DeFranco who checked in guests and handed out raffle tickets, and to Joe DeFranco for making sure the audio system was up and working this year.  

Along with a full buffet, the 75 guests were treated to a drawing for two beautiful gift baskets. Camden and Harrison Reyes took a break from their Legos to pull the winning ticket for Illiane Sassi, who won a TR themed gift basket. Carolyn Diglio won the Italian themed basket. Thanks to Joe and Ellen DeFranco, Brenda Cherry, and Mary Ann Reardon for donating items for the baskets and to Steve Gilroy who brought the dessert - a huge “dee-licious” cake decorated with spectacles and a big moustache (look familiar?).  

After opening remarks by Br Lawrence Syriac, chairman of the FOSH, new Acting Superintendent Jonathan Parker was introduced and spoke about his work with the National Park Service, beginning as a volunteer. The enthusiasm for his work and ours was evident, and he reminded all of us that we not only have the privilege of sharing knowledge about the life and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt with our visitors, but also an opportunity to promote enjoyment by what our visitors learn, see, and hear. After he spoke to the large group, the new Acting Superintendent took time to talk with many volunteers and their guests at their tables, asking the volunteers especially to speak with him about what they thought he should know about them, about Sagamore Hill, and their volunteer experiences.  

In addition to coming together to celebrate the holiday season, we also celebrated another milestone. Jay Perrell announced that Milton and Barbara Elis were celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary. Milton, always ready with a joke or quip, responded to applause that the secret to a lasting marriage is just four words: “Yes, dear, you’re right!” The rest of us certainly could agree that Barbara is always right! Our congratulations to you both. A happy ending to a very enjoyable evening.
The Illuminating Gas System at Sagamore Hill
by Janet Parga
Sagamore Hill was completed in 1885 but not occupied by TR and Edith until 1887. It wasn’t until 1918 that the home was electrified. Not only was there no electricity available to light their home, but for 21 years, the Roosevelts had no access to commercially produced gas. So just how was Sagamore Hill “illuminated”? Since there was no access to commercially produced gas, original lighting fixtures, many of which can still be found throughout the home today, required a gas production apparatus which produced gas vapor. Visitors to the TRH will still see some of those original pipes which brought the gas vapor to the fixtures, each of which had to be manually turned on each day.  

So where was this gas vapor produced? There is no physical evidence left of the gas production system, but several primary source records give us clues to its location. These records come from the National Park Service Historical Structure Report, Edith’s own financial records, personal accounts from Robert Gillespie, a Roosevelt employee who maintained the system, and from interviews in the 1970’s with members of the TRA-era Restoration Committee.

Entries from Edith’s account books document that in 1889, she made a payment to Denny Brothers Company. Denny Brothers, located in Manhattan, made and sold Imperial Gas Machines which illuminated homes by making gas vapor using gasoline as the fuel source. Barrels of this volatile liquid gasoline were delivered to Sagamore Hill and stored in an underground tank located in the front of the house, off the current rangers’ office. A pair of underground cast iron pipes connected the tank to the Imperial Gas Machine in the basement which dispersed hot vapor: “The weight driven gas machine or air pump forced the vaporized gas/air mixture back through the second pipe into the basement, wherein it was distributed through a complex pipe system.” Robert Gillespie had to crank up the machine at least once a day, sometimes twice a day when needed.

Before the system was installed, the Roosevelts relied on gas brackets, Welsbach burners, and kerosene lamps.  The lighting fixture located between Alice’s room and the boy’s room on the second floor is one of several original gas fixtures that was converted from gas to electricity. (See photo below.)  Although electricity was available in Oyster Bay before 1918, Edith put off the conversion because she was afraid electricity would set off a fire or blow the house up. The irony is that the gasoline storage tanks and gas vapor were probably much more dangerous than electricity.

Source:  National Park Service Historic Structure Report
Original gas lighting fixture - notice the gas pipe.
The Emblem of "America's Best Idea"
by Nancy Hall
Each week as we “suit up” to welcome visitors to Old Orchard or lead them through the Theodore Roosevelt House, we volunteers are recognizable by our green shirts, khaki pants, and by the emblem of the National Park Service that we wear on our badges, shirts, vests, and hats. As part of our tours, we are asked lots of questions about TR, his family, his politics, and the many articles in the TRH and museum that reflect on his life and legacy. But are you ever asked about the Park Service emblem you wear? Have you yourself ever wondered about its symbols and its own history? Here is some background information that might help you with these questions.

The National Park Service, a unit of the national government, was founded by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 under the Organic Act . The Arrowhead design was authorized many years later as the official NPS emblem by the Secretary of the Interior Conrad L. Wirth on July 20, 1951. 

Prior to 1951, the Park Service had agitated for a distinct symbol to differentiate it from the Forest Service whose emblem is a lone Sequoia tree. This image of a Sequoia alone did not, it was felt, symbolize the full range of the Park Service’s mission. Neither did a later design submission which highlighted a road leading into the mountains. A still later design showed an elongated pine tree inside an arrowhead.  

Finally, the arrowhead as the dominant feature was kept, but the symbols within it were expanded to include what is now the official emblem of the Park Service to show what Secretary Wirth believed ”the parks were all about”.
  • The Arrowhead, a native American hunting implement, represents historical and archaeological treasures. 
  • The Sequoia tree and Grasslands represent all vegetation, which is continuously monitored and restored by the Park Service.
  • The Mountains represent land formations, scenery, and recreational opportunities, such as hiking, camping, birding, etc.
  • The Bison represents all wildlife. (As of April, 2016, the American bison is the official mammal of the United States.)
  • The Lake represents water resources and recreational opportunities.

The Arrowhead emblem that we wear on our volunteer uniforms not only connects us to all those who serve the NPS, but to history itself. Since 1951, it continues to be a symbol of our National Park System, of what Wallace Stegner, writer and historian called, “ the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic… ”. 
Curator's Corner
by Sue Sarna
We work with a lot of authors who come to Sagamore Hill to research in our archives. Most of them write nonfiction, scholarly books, but some authors write historical fiction based partly on facts.   

One author who recently came to Sagamore Hill to conduct research is Burt Solomon. His fictional book, The Attempted Murder of Teddy Roosevelt: A Novel , is worth a read. The novel centers around TR’s real trolley car accident on September 3, 1902, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. However, Solomon takes a bit of poetic license and turns what was ruled as an accident into an attempted assassination of TR. This is a fun rainy day read; try to pick out the actual facts in the text.

Another book new to the market with a connection to Theodore Roosevelt is  Monument Man: The Life & Art of Daniel Chester French , by Harold Holzer. French was a contemporary of TR and an American sculptor who created more than a hundred public works, including the statue of Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial. Though French never sculpted TR, the two shared a mutual admiration for each other. TR even selected French to serve as one of his advisors to help form a permanent National Commission of the Arts.
We are currently working with two authors who are using the collection to research. Michael Cullinane, author of Theodore Roosevelt’s Ghost: The History and Memory of an American Icon , is researching oral histories of Theodore Roosevelt’s friends and family recorded in the 1950s by Mary Hagedorn, daughter of Hermann Hagedorn. These interviews reveal details about Bamie, Corinne, and life at Sagamore Hill. The transcripts of these interviews are in the archival collection housed at Old Orchard.
Author Ed O’Keefe, who is now the Chief Executive Officer of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, is writing a book on how the women in TR’s life influenced him. He is using letters, scrapbooks, and objects in both the Sagamore Hill and Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace collections cared for here at Sagamore Hill.
Josiah the Badger
by Joe DeFranco
It was the spring of 1903, and Theodore Roosevelt was in the midst of a western trip that would take him to 25 states, make stops in 150 towns, and see him deliver over 200 speeches from the back of his train. One of those stops was Sharon Springs, Kansas. After attending a local church service there, the President was approached by a 12-year-old girl named Pearl Gorsuch. When Pearl asked TR if he would like a baby badger, he must have agreed because she left and returned with the animal. He took the badger from Pearl’s father (whose name was Josiah), and as he examined it, the badger began nibbling on his finger which delighted TR. “Bother politics,” the president noted,“The last day in Kansas is the best of them all.”

Arriving at his new home in Sagamore Hill, Josiah was generally good natured enough for the president to write to his friend Henry Cabot Lodge that “Josiah, the young badger, is hailed with the wildest enthusiasm by the children, and has passed an affectionate but passionate day with us. Fortunately his temper seems proof.”

Sagamore Hill proved to be a perfect place for a badger to thrive. Being omnivores, badgers eat earthworms, insects, frogs, a variety of plants and fruits, and small mammals like moles, young rats, and rabbits, all of which were in plentiful supply in his new home. Josiah’s personal favorite meal was milk and potatoes. Having no trouble finding food and no natural predators to hunt him, Josiah grew into a large, plump household pet.

Originally thought as a pet for Alice, Josiah became Archie’s pet. Archie could be seen dragging him around, “usually tightly clasped round where his waist would have been if he had one.” To TR, Josiah hissed like a kettle and looked like, “a mattress with a leg at each corner.” Roosevelt loved to watch Josiah being released from his cage and going directly to the nearest leg to take a nip. When the badger’s victims complained about Josiah’s aggressive behavior, Archie came to his defense, calling the complaints an “unworthy assault on the character of Josiah… He bites legs sometimes, but he never bites faces.”

As Josiah grew so did his bad temper. His nips became a lot less friendly, and as a result he was dispatched to the Bronx Zoo in September of 1903. That caused a great deal of sadness among the children. To ease the pain of separation from Josiah, Archie was allowed to visit Josiah often. Later, TR would organize an annual family outing to visit Josiah on his birthday at the Zoo (then named the New York Zoological Society), where Josiah eventually died on December 3, 1907. 

Tour tip: The stuffed badger under the chair in the library at TRH is NOT Josiah. 

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site Archives
Past issue of the Rough Writer
The Vintage News

  Volunteer Travels:
Madeline Nelson Visits the AMNH and
a Baseball Game
TR Statue Controversy on Display
As was mentioned in the July edition of the Rough Writer, the American Museum of Natural History in New York mounted a temporary exhibit spotlighting the controversy surrounding the statue of TR on horseback with a Native American and African American walking on either side, guiding his path. Many felt the statue was not respectful of either the Native American or the African American. Instead of ignoring the controversy, the Museum chose to open an exhibit on this public question and encourage discussion. I found that the ensuing display makes for interesting reading and viewing. It will be up for several months.

TR at the Nationals
At Nationals games there is always a race between four giant costumed presidents - Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln, and TR. Usually TR loses, but at the game I was attending, he won. Being a TR fan, I was excited and started talking to one of the people in our party about him. I also mentioned how upset I was that I hadn’t brought my "Take along TR" with me. The gentleman I was talking to, also a TR fan, kindly offered to take pictures for me at the capital. As it turns out, he is the chief policy advisor for one of our representatives and has access where many do not. The ensuing collage shows TR ( looking a bit like the Jimmy Stewart character in the 1939 film, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington") visiting all the famous sites in the Capital.

FYI, when asked if the photographer took the pictures under the cover of darkness, he responded, "No." He said the tourists loved watching him create the images!
Editors’ Note:  If you travel to locations or events associated with TR, you are invited to send the Rough Writer notes on your travels.
What's in a Name?
by Lou Gottfried
Giving tours of the TRH requires more of us than the ability to recite dates or historical facts. A good tour guide should also be a fairly good story teller. Roosevelt himself was considered a master teller of tales - tall and otherwise. And while the Library of Congress states that there are over 3,200 books written about Theodore Roosevelt, we are not expected to know all the stories of the man who died 100 years ago. But a good starting point is the story behind Theodore Roosevelt’s nickname, “Teddy.”  

Although most of our visitors refer to the President as “Teddy,” in his lifetime he did not really care for the name, claiming it was the name of a child, not a man. Although this may be partly true, the real reason appears to be that Alice Lee, his first wife, called him Teddy or Teddy Skins! He refused to have those names mentioned after her passing. After the battle of San Juan Hill, the press referred to him as Teddy Roosevelt, but he chose to ignore it, preferring to be called “Colonel”.  

During TR’s political career, his path often crossed with Mark Hanna, the influential Republican boss and senator from Ohio. In 1898, TR, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, was eager for the U.S. to step into the conflict with Spain in Cuba. He needed Senator Hanna’s support. He told Senator Hanna that "We will have this war for freedom of Cuba, in spite of the timidity of the commercial classes." After McKinley's death, TR again sought to secure Hanna’s support and influence in the Senate. Hanna indicated that he was willing to come to terms on two conditions: that TR would continue to carry out McKinley's agenda and that TR would stop calling Hanna "old man". Hanna warned Roosevelt that if he didn’t meet those conditions, “I'll call you Teddy!” TR agreed to both terms. Though he imperfectly carried out the second condition!

  William McKinley and His Americ a, p. 277.
The Cowboy President , p.61.
TR, the Last Romantic, p.492.
Roosevelt’s “Rowboat” Diplomacy 
by Milton Elis with assistance from Aurelie Miller-Hendrey
On the afternoon of October 17, authors Constance Moore and Nancy Broermann presented a lecture in the Old Orchard Museum conference room on the interaction between Theodore Roosevelt and Maria Longworth Storer in their book, Loved Him as a Younger Brother . Their lecture was repeated that night at Christ Church Episcopal Church in Oyster Bay as part of the Gable Lecture Series. Congressman Bellamy Storer and his wife, Maria, had been strong political supporters of TR’s career, and, in fact, commissioned the Fedor Encke portrait of TR that now hangs in the North Room. Later, however, their relationship soured after Roosevelt became President. The Storers later went into the diplomatic service.

A key portion of their October presentation dealt with the Roosevelt invitation to the Storers to speak with William McKinley regarding TR’s interest in being appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy. This particular anecdote appeared in an earlier issue of the Rough Writer (10/17/17) titled, “Diplomacy in a Yacht and a Rowboat.” What follows is the section involving the rowboat.  

In 1896, having soured on the job as Police Commissioner in New York City, a job he had gloried in just a year earlier,Theodore Roosevelt was “fishing” for a position that he now desperately desired that of Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Roosevelt wanted to be in McKinley’s good graces if “the Major” won the presidential election, so he now tried to get to McKinley through a “back door”, influential friends. Roosevelt and Edith invited old friends, former Ohio Congressman Bellamy Storer and his wife Maria to Sagamore Hill. While there, TR took Maria out in a rowboat on Oyster Bay where his rowing made her nervous since “he rowed spasmodically and sometimes absent mindedly.” During that rough ride, Roosevelt confessed to Maria that he was worried about his political career, and told her that he knew McKinley would never give the position to him since McKinley was not especially enamored of Roosevelt. Maria, nonetheless, promised that she and her husband would ask for McKinley’s support.  

When the Storers returned to Cincinnati, Roosevelt wrote them. He both flattered the Storers and pressed his claim, writing, “As I want work, I suppose it would be well for me to accept the position of Assistant Secretary of the Navy, in the very improbable event of my being offered it. But I do not want you to concern yourself in this matter, first because it is too early; second, because the really important thing is to get you into the Cabinet or at Paris (as Ambassador).”

But of course, Roosevelt did want Storer to concern himself in this matter. Otherwise, Roosevelt might not snag his prize appointment. To Maria Storer, the more politically astute of the two, Roosevelt reported, “The day after I left you I saw Mark Hanna (an Ohioan known as the Kingmaker of presidents) and after I thought we had grown intimate enough, the chance arriving, I spoke of Bellamy as to France,” but Hanna was focused on getting McKinley elected. Roosevelt’s subtle message was “I can help you and you can help me.” The approach worked, and the “Rest is History” as they say.
Farewell Copper Beech Tree
Gone but not forgotten, the huge, elderly, but sickly tree planted by TR in the early 1890’s, was finally cut down on November 18, 2019. The massive limbs had been cut down previously, but the trunk remained until November.

In anticipation of the tree’s inevitable removal, cuttings from this cherished tree were taken years ago and are now saplings that will be planted to one day grow as a reminder of this monumental beech that shaded thousands of visitors to Sagamore Hill over the years.
Roosevelt in the Movies and on TV:
A TR Jeopardy Quiz
by Robin Wexler
Theodore Roosevelt was undoubtedly, as one admirer’s famously understated description claims, “a most interesting man”. So “interesting” that he not only dominated the political scene of his day, but continues to engage the public imagination and popular media long after his death in 1919.

So dust off your own film and television memories and play our own Rough Writer version of “Jeopardy for Tedheads” and see if you can answer these questions ( before looking at the answer).

This actor played both Theodore Roosevelt and William McKinley in movies made more than 20 years apart.

Answer: Who was Brian Keith?  
Keith starred in TV’s Family Affair, numerous westerns, and as the dad in the original Parent Trap.  In a 1997 TV Mini Series called Rough Riders, Undersecretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, played by Tom Berenger resigns to form a volunteer militia unit, the Rough Riders, to fight in the Spanish-American War. President McKinley is played by Brian Keith. More than 20 years earlier, in 1975, Keith portrayed Theodore Roosevelt in The Wind and the Lion . The film takes place in early 20th century Morocco, and tells the story of an Arab Chief who kidnaps an American woman (played by Candice Bergen) and her children, forcing President Theodore Roosevelt to send in forces to conduct a rescue mission.

This popular television show from the 1960’s depicted a group of rough and ready cowboys who run off and enlist in the Rough Riders so they can impress a pretty lady.

Answer: The Virginian
This show was one of NBC’s most popular in an era when several westerns attracted television audiences weekly (“Maverick,” “Bonanza,” and “The Rifleman,” to name just three). In “Riff Raff,” an early season episode of “The Virginian,” Trampas, Steve, and the Virginian decide to join up with Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders. The cowboys show the snooty easterners how to play polo “western style” while Colonel Theodore Roosevelt (played by popular character actor Karl Swenson) cheers them on. The group is then sent to Cuba, where the officers further learn how to meld their western rough and ready background with military tactics. And of course, by the end of this episode, the Virginian and his sidekicks are cheered as heroes.

Coincidentally, Owen Wister, author of the novel on which this television series was based, and TR were lifelong friends, beginning when both were students at Harvard.
Friends of Sagamore Hill Update
by Ginny Perrell, FOSH Board Member
  • FOSH hosted the authors of the biography Maria Longworth Storer on October 17th as its last Gable Lecture of 2019.
  • FOSH participated in the TRLP Conference held at Hofstra University on October 24th. We set up an information table, answered questions, distributed brochures, and got one new member!
  • FOSH paid for the wreath that is traditionally laid at TR’s grave at Youngs Cemetery on October 27th, his birthday.   
  • Approved $2,125 in funding for the repair of the awnings for the house. 
  • Offered to research options to reduce the cost of replacing the Karastan area rugs in the main hallway at the house.
  • Holiday Party, December 12th at Café Al Dente. 
  • Christmas with the Roosevelts, December 14th funds authorized and provided by FOSH.
Plans for 2020 - FOSH's 25th Anniversary Year
  • The printing of 10,000 new brochures.
  • A committee has been formed to explore ways to celebrate and raise funds for our 25th anniversary. We invite any volunteers who would like to work with us on this to attend our next meeting, January 16, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. in the conference room at OOM. Bring your most creative ideas!
  • Funds totaling $2,800 have been approved for spring VIP training, VIP Awards Night, July 4th, and a fall VIP educational trip. Details to follow.
  • Membership (paid) is currently at 107, and includes former Congressman Steve Israel, who helped us to co-sponsor Clay Risen’s appearance at the Book Revue in Huntington on September 26th.
  • Please consult our website (https://friendsofsagamorehill.org/) for further information as to what we have done, are doing, and have planned for the future.
Moving On
January 31, 2020 is Josh Reyes ' last official day at Sagamore Hill. Josh's reflections on his 15 years here will be highlighted in the next issue of the Rough Writer. He has been an integral part of our volunteer experience; he will be missed, and we wish him and his family well in his next NPS detail in the Philadelphia area.
This newsletter is produced by members of the Volunteer Advisory Board for the volunteers of Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. 
The National Park Service cares
for the special places saved by
the American people so that all may
experience our heritage.
About Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, located in Oyster Bay, New York, is a unit of the National Park Service. The Site was established by Congress in 1962 to preserve and interpret the structures, landscape, collections and other cultural resources associated with Theodore Roosevelt’s home in Oyster Bay, New York, and to ensure that future generations understand the life and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, his family and the significant events associated with him.

For more information please check out our website at  www.nps.gov/sahi  or call
(516) 922-4788.