Meet Pauline Wayne, President Taft’s Cow

Pauline Wayne, President Taft's Holstein cow, was the last to live at the White House (From the Historical Society's collections, CHS 00861)

Pauline Wayne, President Taft’s Holstein cow, was the last to live at the White House.  (CHS 00861, c. 1910)

When it comes to White House animals, Presidential pets are the most well-known. Andrew Jackson had Polly, an infamous swearing parrot, James Buchanan had an elephant at the White House (a gift from the King of Siam), and Teddy Roosevelt and his children had a small menagerie of nearly thirty pets during their time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

A circa 1900 print of Washington showed an idealized scene of farmland that still existed on the outskirts of the city. (Kiplinger Washington Collection, KC3054).

A circa 1900 print of Washington showed an idealized scene of farmland that still existed on the outskirts of the city. (Kiplinger Washington Collection, KC3054)

While presidential domestic pets get a fair share of attention, for much of its history the White House (and the rest of the early capital city) could have been mistaken for a country farm. Horses, sheep, pigs, cows, and other livestock were a common sight on the mansion grounds well into the twentieth century. President Taft’s Holstein named Pauline Wayne (pictured above in front of the Old Executive Office building), was the last cow at the White House. Pauline Wayne eventually retired to Wisconsin when Taft left office, but other farm animals were a common sight for years.

President Wilson's flock of sheep became a very visible symbol of the national war effort. (CHS 02095, c. 1920).

Sheep at the White House were a visible symbol of the national war effort. (CHS 02095, c. 1920)

Among the last farm animals to inhabit the White House grounds were a flock of 48 sheep kept by President Wilson during World War I. While the sheep certainly saved money by helping keep the grass trimmed, the auction of their wool raised money for the American Red Cross. As Washington grew and shed its image as rural town, so too did farm animals disappear from the White House grounds. President Coolidge’s donkey was the last known farm-animal-in-residence at the executive mansion, though Caroline Kennedy’s pet pony, Macaroni, often made appearances when not stabled in Virginia.

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