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Ellen Arthur


Born as Ellen Lewis Herndon in Culpeper Court House, Virginia. She was the daughter of William Lewis Herndon, captain of the ill-fated SS Central America that sank in 1857. She married Chester Arthur on October 25, 1859. They had two sons and a daughter.

She caught cold that developed into pneumonia and died on January 12, 1880. Her husband succeeded to the presidency upon the death of James Garfield on September 19, 1881. He served the remainder of the term and was not reelected.

Mary Arthur McElroy, sister of the president, served as unofficial first lady. Neither woman appears on the “First Spouse” coins and medals.

Source credit: Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies


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