Yellowstone/1923: Did Pres. Coolidge Really Have a Bear as a White House Pet?

It’s official, we are all obsessed with Yellowstone and all of the spin-offs including 1923.  One scene in particular caught my eye, it’s when young Jack Dutton (Darren Mann) is reading the newspaper and shares a news item with his uncle, Jake Dutton (Harrison Ford) about Calvin Coolidge having a bear as a pet in the White House.

I assumed it was true, but wanted to verify, so I searched this particular event on The New York Times “TimesMachine” and confirmed that indeed, President Coolidge had a brown bear as a pet.

On Tuesday, October 23rd, according to the article, R.B. Pearson drove up to the White House with two brown bears in a cage from Chihuahua, Mexico.  Mr. Pearson told President Coolidge that the larger of the two bears had been captured while it was in the process of killing a horse.

The description of Mr. Pearson is particularly entertaining, “(he)…wore his hair very long. He had on leather breeches tucked into top booths.  His head was surmounted by a broad-brimmed sombrero.”

The bears were evidently a gift to Coolidge who agreed to accept only one (likely the smaller one), while the other bear was to be taken to the Bronx Zoo in New York.  According to the article, Pearson captured the bears in the Mexican Sierras with his lariat (lasso) and had no regular home having “spent most of his life on the old Oregon Trail.”

I wish Jack Dutton would have read that portion of the article as he could have made a great comment about his grandparents also following the Oregon Trail (1883).

Coincidentally, Coolidge also had a famous pet raccoon named Rebecca. The Coolidge family received the raccoon to be cooked for Thanksgiving Dinner (yuck!) in 1926, but decided to keep it as a pet instead.

So, the bear story is true and we have added a raccoon, what other historical facts should we verify from the Yellowstone franchise?