The Washington Herald, November 8, 1907, Page 2.

Page 2.


Tile Marking Spot Where Were He Fell Is Stolen


Last Seen by Pennsylvania Depot Employes Early Yesterday Morning —Many Offers Are Alleged to Have Been Made for the Souvenir of Great National Tragedy.

A small red tile in the floor of the Sixth street station, which since 1900 has served to mark the spot where President James A. Garfield was shot has been missing since yesterday morning and the inference is that the the ubiquitous relic hunter has scored again in Washington.

Station Master W. G. Robey and his assistants were much perturbed yesterday over the mysterious removal of the tile, and no one in the local employ of the company could throw any light upon how it had been taken away or when it was removed. It was last seen at 6:30 o'clock yesterday morning by one of the employes of the station who was cleaning the room. An hour later it was gone as the hole in the tile floor still bears mute testimony.

Removed by Skillful Hands.

Whoever took the tiny block of clay must have been an expert, as it was removed without disturbing the pieces with which it was surrounded and apparently without injuring the tile itself, which was firmly bedded in cement. It is the opinion of Station Master Robey that the job could not have been done without steel instruments of some kind or without consuming considerable time in loosening the block. He is at a loss to explain how it could have been accomplished without the operator being seen.

The floor of the Pennsylvania station at Sixth and B streets northwest is laid in tiles, so much in vogue a quarter of a century ago. The design is composed of small square blocks about two inches on each side, white and blue being used. The red tile, different in color from any other in the floor, was of the same size and material. It took the place of a brass star which was partially destroyed by a fire in the station on March 4, 1900.

The Tragedy of 1881.

President Garfield was shot on July 2, 1881, as he was passing through the doorway leading from the front room of the station into the larger waiting room. He was in company with James G Blaine, then Secretary of State, the two two men having just been driven to the B street entrance, the train which was to bear the President from the city being in the train shed. The assassin Guiteau fired as he as he rushed up behind the President and the latter fell to the floor.

After the President's death in the following September, the spot in the station where he fell was marked by the brass star, which for many years was reverently viewed by thousands who visited Washington and passed through the station. The manner in which it was replaced by the red tile has been described.

While public interest in the tragic event which thrilled the world in 1881 has been partially crowded out of memory in later years, many still sought out the little red tile, and gazed thoughtfully upon it until day before yesterday. It will missed by the throng of travelers for the short remaining time which the Sixth street station will be used by the Pennsylvania Company, before removal to the new Union Station.

Money Offered for Relic.

One reason leading to the inference that the tile was removed by some relic hunter is that officials of the company, and even Station Master Robey, have been frequently importuned of late for permission to remove that particular tile. It is said that money has been offered in some cases to gain possession of the relic. Of course, all such requests have been denied, and the explanation given for its disappearance is that some memento seeker, bolder and more expert than the rest, has taken the tile and safely gotten away with it.

A suspicion, which could not be verified, is that the tile was removed at the connivance of the officials of the company, in the fear that some one would get it other than its rightful owners. It was suggested yesterday that some one in the employ of the company may have removed the tile, without the direct knowledge even of the employes of the station.

At all events, the tile is gone, mysteriously as the prowlings of a thief in the night, and those in immediate charge of the station know as little of the manner in which it was done or who did it as the curious public, which gazed upon the hole in the floor yesterday, speculated upon the cleaverness of the supposed thief in taking up and getting away with the historic memento.

Garfield Relic Gone, The Washington Herald, No. 397, November 8, 1907, Page 2.(PDF)