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Dr. T. S. Verdi, Seward's Physician

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Dr. T. S Verdi, Seward Family Physician

Tullis (Tullio, Tullie) S. Verdi immigrated from Italy, as did his brother Ciro S. Verdi, sometime before 1860. The 1860 census of Washington, DC, shows T. S. Verdi, a physician and 31 years old, living with his wife Rebecca A. and brother C. S. Verdi, then a student aged 26. Rebecca was age 21 and born in Pennsylvania.

Dr. T. S. Verdi became one of the physicians of Secretary of State William H. Seward and his family. On Wednesday 5 April 1865, some members of the Seward family were leaving their home in Washington in a carriage when the horses bolted and began to run away. Inside, Fanny Seward watched in horror as first her brother, Frederick, then her father exited the carriage in attempts to stop the horses. As a result, William H. Seward was injured and Dr. Verdi was called to administer to him. Dr. Verdi came several times over the next week and a half, as it was discovered that Mr. Seward suffered from a fracture of the face and a broken arm. Seward was put in a neck brace to support his head. Verdi also tended to Frederick Seward, whose injuries were not severe.

During the evening of Friday 14 April 1865, Dr. Verdi was once again at the Seward home and left about 9 p.m., according to his testimony at the trial of the assassins of President Lincoln. About 10:30 he was hastily summoned again to the Seward home, where he found that an assassination had been attempted on Secretary Seward while he lay in his bed. In his own words, he said, "I saw the Hon. William H. Seward, Mr. Frederick Seward, Major Augustus H. Seward, Mr. Robinson and Mr. Hansell, all wounded and their wounds bleeding." The latter two were household servants. Verdi continued, "I had left Mr. Seward ... very comfortable, in his room, and when I saw him next he was in his bed, covered with blood, with blood all around him, blood under the bed, and blood on the handles of the doors." It was felt that only the neck brace which he wore prevented the knife wounds from being fatal. Dr. Verdi reassured his family after his preliminary examination that their father would not die from the attack, although, "It (was) not my opinion that the wounds received by Mr. Seward tended to aid his recovery from his former accident." 

During the trial, the minutes of which were reported in the Daily National Intelligencer and which will soon be available on Footnote under Lincoln Assassination Papers, Dr. Verdi was a witness for the prosecution of Lewis Payne, accused of the attempt on the life of William Seward.

By the time the 1870 census was taken, Dr. Verdi and his wife, Rebecca, had a daughter, Sophia, age 4. What is interesting about this particular census is that a boarder in a home two doors down was none other than Mathew B. Brady, the reknowned photographer! Dr. Verdi's brother, Ciro S. Verdi, had become a doctor as well and was living in Mount Vernon, OH, with his wife, Fanny.

The 1880 census shows Dr. Verdi living with his daughter Sophie, age 13, and another "daughter" Denny S., age 7, still in Washington, DC, with three servants. Rebecca apparently had died after the birth of Denny as she is not listed with the family. Ciro, who apparently lost his wife Fanny the same decade and had married Caroline, had moved to New Brunswick, NJ, where he continued the practice of medicine.

Dr. T. S. Verdi was last found in the 1890 Washington, DC, city directory as a physician. No trace of him or his brother was found in the 1900 census. No doubt Sophia married. The 1900 census of the Philippines shows "daughter" Denny D. S. Verdi (now a male, age 27 and born in Washington, DC) as a 2nd Lieutenant in Company F, 34th Regiment, Infantry.

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