Pick and Sledge

Curious Stories from the American West

100 Years Ago Today: Pithy News, Woman Dreams of Teddy Roosevelt’s Death

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Moffat County Courier, Number 24, January 30, 1919

Let me get this right. A woman in Moffat County, Colorado had a dream that The Old Lion, The Rough Rider, The Bull Moose, T. R., The Trust Buster, The Hero of San Juan Hill, Mr. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., the 26th President of the United States, died in his sleep at the young age of 60 years old? Oh come on now, Mrs. Sarah Lewis!

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Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir at Glacier Point in Yosemite (1903)

Teddy can survive anything! He was shot in 1912 while giving a speech and kept talking. He explored the River of Doubt, contracted malaria, and lived. He charged through heavy fire at the battle of Kettle Hill and survived. He…wait what? He died in his sleep on January 6, 1919 due to a pulmonary embolism (where a blood clot gets caught in one of the arteries that go from the heart to the lungs)?

Indeed, the entire country was so shocked to hear of Col. Roosevelt’s death, that only a dream premonition could have foretold it, which is probably why the Moffat County Courier ran this dream story on the SECOND PAGE of its newspaper 100 years ago today.

Sagamore Hill house near Oyster Bay where Theodore Roosevelt died

Another interesting nugget that shouldn’t be slept on is the cosign of her son, George Lewis, notably of the Mountain Division of the American Red Cross. The inclusion of his position lends credence to her story because of how revered the Red Cross was during the Great War. Indeed, Woodrow Wilson publicly called upon the American people to back the organization throughout the war.

Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881. The first Colorado-based chapter of the Red Cross started in 1914, known as the Pikes Peak Chapter. The Mountain Division of the Red Cross was then established, comprised of Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah. In the years before the U.S. joined the war, the Red Cross was sending doctors, nurses, and medical supplies to war ravaged European countries. They also called on women (and men) stateside to help make socks and sweaters for the soldiers in volunteer groups called the Production Corps.

American Red Cross historical poster 

100 years ago today, Mrs. Sarah Lewis, the mother of George Lewis who worked for the lauded Red Cross in Colorado, had a nighmare/premonition that the seemingly impossible had happened: ex-president Theodore Roosevelt died in his sleep, but two days later the truth came out — the impossible had happened, and Roosevelt was dead of a pulmonary embolism.

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