Woman of the Century/Harriet Lane Johnston
JOHNSTON, Mrs. Harriet Lane, niece of James Buchanan, fifteenth President of the United States, and mistress of the White House during his incumbency, born in Mercersburg, Pa., in 1833. She was a daughter of Elliott T. Lane and lane Buchanan Lane. Her ancestry was English on her father's side and Scotch-Irish on her mother's side. Her maternal grandfather, lames Buchanan, emigrated in 1783 from the north of Ireland and settled in Mercersburg, Pa. In 1788 he was married to Elizabeth Speer, a wealthy farmer's daughter. Their oldest son was President James Buchanan. Their second child, Jane, was the mother of Harriet Lane. The daughter was left motherless in her seventh year, and her illustrious uncle took her into his care. She went with him to his home in Lancaster, Pa. There she attended a day school. She was a frolicsome, generous, openhearted child. She was next sent to school in Charlestown, Va., where, with her sister, she studied for three years. After leaving that school she went to the Roman Catholic convent school in Georgetown, D. C. There she was liberally educated, her tastes running mainly to history, astronomy and mythology. She developed into a stately and beautiful woman. She had a clear, ringing voice, blue eyes and golden hair. She accompanied her uncle to England in 1853, and in London she presided over the embassy. Queen Victoria became a warm friend of the young American girl, and through her wish Miss Lane was ranked among the ladies of the diplomatic corps as Mr. Buchanan's wife would have ranked, had he been a married man. With her uncle she traveled extensively in Europe. When Mr. Buchanan became President, Miss Lane was installed as mistress of the White House. Her regime was marked by grace and dignity. During the difficult years of President Buchanan's term of office Miss Lane's position was one of exceeding delicacy, but she ever maintained her self-poise and appeared as the true and honorable woman. In 1863 she was confirmed in the Episcopal Church in Oxford, Philadelphia, of which one of her uncles was rector. In January, 1866, she became the wife of Henry Elliott Johnston, a member of one of the distinguished families of Maryland. After marriage they traveled in Cuba. They made their home in Baltimore, Md. Her marrietl life has been an ideal one. Her husband died some years ago, and she makes her home in Baltimore and Wheatlands. Her two sons died early.