Henry Lambert - not Lincoln's chef

gary

Captain
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Out west here stands the St. James Hotel in Cimmaron, New Mexico. The St. James Hotel was owned by Henry Lambert, a veteran of the Union Army. According to Lambert, he was Grant's chef and Grant recommended him to Lincoln who then had him as a chef at the White House. This story is told today at the St. James which is still operating as a hotel and a restaurant. Many of the post-Civil War famous lawmen and outlaws ate and dined there. There were gunfights and killings at the hotel.

Anyway, I doubt if Grant recommended Lambert to Lincoln and my friends in California never found mention of Lambert in any of the Lincoln papers. We know Lincoln read all the telegrams at the War Department's telegraph office and even added things to telegrams before they were sent off. Hence Lincoln knew about Grant's capture of Donelson and naturally, of Vicksburg. Grant as a soldier and field commander would not have communicated with Lincoln. I don't think the two men met until Lincoln appointed Grant as commanding general of all the Union armies. How then could Grant have recommended Lambert to Lincoln? I think it's fiction created by Lambert.

Thoughts, comments, refutations are welcomed!
 

Old West Guy

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Joined
Jan 27, 2016
Hi Gary,

I would like to hear more of your thoughts on this. I am writing a book on the St. James and have a similar option.

Kevin
 

AndyHall

Colonel
Joined
Dec 13, 2011
There is a tree on Ancestry that gives Henri/Henry Lambert's birth date as October 28, 1838 at Nantes. There is also a record of an enlistment in the U.S. Navy in October 1862 of a Henry Lambert, born at Nantes, of close to the same age. That Lambert's civilian occupation is listed as "steward," which might be a good fit for the New Mexico Lambert's postwar career as a barkeep, hotelier and restaurateur.
 

Old West Guy

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Joined
Jan 27, 2016
Andy,

Thank you so much for the reply and info. I have hand written notes from Henri's son Fred or possibly his wife saying (quote) "Henri Lambert was a native of Bordeau, France and came to the US in 1858. First American job in America was cook in the field for Ulysses S. Grant during early days of the Civil War". "President Lincoln learned of dishes served to grant and summon the Frenchman to the White House and made him head chef". Other accounts as far back as 1891 have him born in Nantes France but moving as a child to Bordeaux.

Other accounts do have him as a member of the northern Navy in the Civil War serving on the US Monitor as a captain's Stewart for 2 years, but later have him as a private cook for General Grant for one month, then later I cook for general Warren? One account says he served in the fifth Corps?

There is no evidence from the White House Historical Society that Henri was ever head chef or any chef at that time in the WH and served President Lincoln. This may be a family story passed down.

Again, thank you for the help every little bit of information helps you get closer to the truth.
 

donna

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
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May 12, 2010
Location
Now Florida but always a Kentuckian
This an interesting thread. I have been trying to find all the cooks/chefs that worked in the White House for different presidents. Have found some but need to do more research.
 

Old West Guy

Cadet
Joined
Jan 27, 2016
This an interesting thread. I have been trying to find all the cooks/chefs that worked in the White House for different presidents. Have found some but need to do more research.

I would contact the White house Historical Society. They were very easy and nice to work with.
 

Old West Guy

Cadet
Joined
Jan 27, 2016
UPDATE:

After much research it appears there was a "convergence in time" around the issue in question. Although there is still no official documentation that Henry Lambert was ever a chef at the Whitehouse, all four men Lambert, Lincoln, Grant, and Warren were in the same geographical area for a certain point in time. General Grant at his HQ in City Point, VA. '64--'65)and Gen. Warren (V Army Corps) in Petersburg, VA. ('64-'65). Lincoln visited Grant at City Point 3 times ('64-'65). Lambert was in the City Point and Petersburg area as operating a civilian eating establishment '64-'66.

It's feasible these men might have interacted somehow. Lambert could have been contracted to cook for the President Lincoln or Gen. Grant while he was there or they ate at Lambert's eating establishment?
 
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