Travis, John A.


Capt. John A. Travis, who has guarded the door to the executive gallery of the House of Representatives for thirty – four years, is showing to his friends three letters he received last week complimenting him on completing his forty – fifth year of service in the Capitol.  One of the letters came from President Wilson, another from Speaker Clark and another from “Uncle Joe” Cannon, who said he remembered Capt. Travis on guard when he first entered the House from Illinois in 1873.

He received an appointment to the Capitol force March 15, forty-five years ago, and for eleven years was on duty on the House floor of the Capitol, being assigned for the most part to the main entrance to the hall of the House, because of his exceptional ability to remember faces.  He was transferred to the post at the door to the executive gallery thirty-four years ago, and has been there since, and has a memory stored with acquaintances with presidents; cabinet officers and members of their families.

Being modest in the extreme he did not announce his forty-fifth anniversary in advance, and he says it is not known to him how the three high officials knew about it.  Neither did he advertise the fact broadcast that he had received the letters.

President Wilson’s Letter

The President’s letter Capt. Travis was as follows:

“I am interested to learn that today marks the forty-fifth anniversary of the beginning of your service at the Capitol, where you have for so long a time been in charge of the executive gallery.  May I not offer you my hearty congratulations and express the wish that you may be spared for many more years.”

Other Compliments

Speaker Clark’s letter was:

“I congratulate you on finishing your forty-fifth year of service in the employment of the National House of Representatives.  You have always discharged your duties with fidelity and capacity.  What a wonderful array of men you have seen come and go in the last forty-five years!”

Uncle Joe Cannon writes:

“It has been brought to my attention that this is the forty-fifth anniversary of the beginning of your employment in the House of Representatives.  I remember that you were here when I came as a new member of the House in 1873.  We have been co-laborers since, although you have been on the job more continuously than I.”

The doorkeeper wrote:

“Captain John A. Travis

House of Representatives

My Dear Sir:

Permit me to extend to you my congratulations on the forty-fifth anniversary of your service as an employee of the House of Representatives.  I take this occasion to say that since I have been Doorkeeper of the House I have always found you painstaking in your efforts and faithful in the discharge or your duty.

Trusting that you will be in the service many years to come. I am

Very truly yours,

J.J. Sinnott

Doorkeeper House of Reps.


1837 - 1918

Capt. John Alvin Travis, well known and popular both in Andover and Washington, D. C., died at mid-night, Saturday, April 13, 1918, at his Washington home, 1008 East Capitol Street.

Capt. Travis, who was eighty-one years old, has been a doorkeeper at the House of Representatives for forty-seven years, thirty of which he had been in charge of the door of the executive gallery, the seat of which are set aside for the families of the President and the members of the Cabinet.  He was a familiar and popular figure at Congress and enjoyed the personal acquaintance of Congressmen of both parties.  His unfailing courtesy and fine presence attracted strangers and he was certain to be remembered by all who visited the gallery. It was said at the Capitol that Capt. Travis never forgot a name or a face and old members, who returned to Washington after years of retirement, always looked up the Captain who never failed to recall them.  The fund of information concerning the customs and procedure of the House which Captain Travis had gathered in his long experience made him an especially valuable acquaintance to new comers to Washington who looked upon him as an unfailing source of authentic data.

Captain Travis eightieth birthday was celebrated last year by a dinner at the House restaurant, which was attended by Speaker Champ Clark, former Speaker Cannon and other important Representatives.  He received a letter of congratulations two years ago from President Wilson, on completing his forty-fifth year of service at the capital.

Captain Travis was born at Hornellsville, Steuben Co., New York, April 20, 1837, the son of John B. and Sarah A. Travis.  He enlisted in the 86th Regiment, New York, Volunteers in which made a splendid record.  At the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 3, 1863, he received a wound, which necessitated the removal of his right leg.  After nearly nine months in the hospital in Washington he was mustered out of the service and returned to his home.

In March 1871 he received an appointment to the Doorkeeper’s Roll of the House of Representatives and has been continuously in the employment of the Government since.

Captain Travis was twice married; first to Miss Sarah A. Satterlee on January  29, 1862, when he was sent home for recruiting service; she died in August 1886; secondly to Miss Amy T. Spaulding, daughter to Mr. And Mrs. D. B. Spaulding, of Andover, November 24, 1887, who now survives him.  Captain and Mrs. Travis maintained a home at 1008 East Capital Street in the city of Washington, D. C., where they dispensed a pleasant hospitality to many Washington and out of town friends.  Both have been prominent in the work of the Metropolitan Presbyterian Church of Washington and in the educational work at Chautauqua, New York.

Funeral services were conducted at Andover Presbyterian Church, Wednesday afternoon, Rev. H. D. Bacon, of Portville, a former intimate friend of Captain Travis officiating.

The interment was in Valley Brook Cemetery, Andover.