12 things you didn’t know about US presidents

A statue of former president Andrew Jackson is seen inside a closed Lafayette Park, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, in front of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) (Jacquelyn Martin, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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Today is Presidents Day, which is held the third Monday in February, observed as a legal holiday in most of the states of the U.S. in honor of the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. It’s also generally to honor all U.S. presidents.

So, to honor the U.S. presidents of the past, here are 12 really odd facts about some of the presidents of this great country.

Andrew Jackson (7th): Jackson, nicknamed “Old Hickory,” was involved in as many as 100 duels, most of which were fought to defend the honor of his wife, Rachel. He was shot in the chest in a duel in 1806 and took a bullet in the arm in a bar fight with Missouri Sen. Thomas Hart Benton in 1813.

Zachary Taylor (12th): Known for being a staunch military general, Taylor was done in by ... cherries. Yes, contaminated cherries with bacteria that caused his death by cholera five days later.

Franklin Pierce (14th): During his term in office, Pierce was arrested for running over a woman with his horse. Charges were later dropped due to a lack of evidence. (The horse pleaded the 5th).

Abraham Lincoln (16th): Many remember Lincoln as a humble, smart leader -- but he was also one of the best wrestlers around. As a young wrestler, he was only defeated once every 300 matches. He was inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame with the honor of “Outstanding American.”

James A. Garfield (20th): Garfield was shot early in his presidency and died 11 weeks later. Doctors used a new tool from Alexander Graham Bell to try and find the bullet lodged in Garfield’s body, a sort of metal detector, but the bed spring interfered with the result -- and doctors kept cutting in the wrong area. Ooof.

Benjamin Harrison (23rd): He was the first to have electricity in the White House, but was so afraid of being electrocuted, he refused to touch the lights. So, he slept with the lights on

Woodrow Wilson (28th): Wilson’s wife and First Lady, Edith Bolling Galt, was a descendant of Pocahontas.

Calvin Coolidge (30th): Most had dogs, but Coolidge had two raccoons named Reuben and Rebecca that wandered around the White House.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (32nd): FDR was terrified of the number 13 and refused to have dinner with that number of people or leave for a trip on the 13th of any month. Seems fair.

Lyndon B. Johnson (36th): Fixated with helicopters, he replaced the Oval Office seat with a vinyl helicopter seat.

Richard Nixon (37th): Yes, he resigned after the Watergate scandal, but did you know he installed a bowling alley at the White House?

Gerald Ford (38th): Ford had a side gig as a model. In 1942, shortly after joining the Navy, he landed an uncredited spot on the cover of Cosmopolitan in his uniform. He also met his wife on the shoot.

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.