The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

December 10, 2015

December 10, 1817

Fielding Bradford Meek (December 10, 1817 to December 22, 1876) was an American paleontologist. He co-wrote two volumes on the palaeontology of California (1864-1869); and also a Report on the Invertebrate Cretaceous and Tertiary Fossils of the Upper Missouri Country (1876)

He worked for and at the Smithsonian. This building was later said to be haunted. We have this story:

One item the Smithsonian Castle contains is said to be the reason this building is haunted. The Smithsonian is named after an Englishman, James Smithson. He was a chemist and mineralogist. He traveled Europe studying and publishing papers on his findings.

When he died he left his fortune to the founding of the Smithsonian Institute. ... Smithson never visited the U.S. and he never viewed the Castle that bears his name. But after his death his body was brought to the Castle in 1904 and placed under one of the main rooms.

At one time there were so many sightings of Smithson’s ghost that in 1973 the former curator of the Castle’s collections, James Goode had his body disinterred. His casket was thoroughly inspected and it was found his skeletal remains were still inside. It was determined nothing unique was found.

But his ghost was still seen.
The guards and staff that worked at the Castle late at night reported seeing several of the “devoted deceased scientists of earlier eras walk the halls of the museum.” It was believed they were there to guard the institute’s collection.....

[One] ghost seen was that of paleontologist Fielding B. Meek who actually lived in the Castle with his cat. He first occupied two tiny rooms under the staircase but in 1876 a fire forced him to move to a tower room where he died shortly afterwards.

His ghost has been seen in these two areas of the Castle.

Meek was one of the "Shades of Scientist" who haunted the Smithsonian.

An article was published in the Washington Post in May of 1900. I copy the article below although it does not have any mentions of Meek or Meek's cat. There is a certain charm to their account of ghosts.

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