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Brad’s Musings and Meanderings

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"Inspector Smoky Bates, private eye for the public schools." - Norman Lamb, "It's Your Move"

grant.jpgOur 18th United States President was a prime example of a military hero being elected into office without the proper credentials to exercise the office of Commander-in-Chief. Ulysses S. Grant held office from 1869-1877 and was the first President to serve two full consecutive terms since Andrew Jackson forty years earlier, but his most notable achievement came before office, when he led the North to victory as General of the Union army during the Civil War. It was based on this popular public reception that soon catapulted him into the job. At the time, he was the youngest man to assume the Presidency and had never held public office before in his life.

Although he has scored some points for his active stand in the Civil Rights Movement, his Presidency was rocked by Economic Depression and scandal – including Black Friday and the Whiskey Ring. His term was succeeded by Rutherford B. Hayes, a fellow Ohio-born President. After Hayes’ term came to an end and he decided not to run again, Grant actually sought re-election for a third term but the nomination ultimately went to yet another Ohio President, James A. Garfield.

I have not yet finished with my President Grant quest, which will conclude when I visit his grave in New York – but here are the significant Grant locations that I have visited in Ohio.

Saturday, August 22, 1998 / Sunday, August 3, 2008 –  Ulysses S. Grant Birthplace – Grant’s birthplace, located in the tiny town of Point Pleasant, Ohio, has quite an interesting history. He was born in this tiny one-room cabin in 1822, but only lived here for the first year of his life before his family moved on to Georgetown, Ohio. The house remained in place until after Grant’s death in 1885 at which time it became a ‘traveling’ memorial to both the Civil War and the late President.

It traveled first by towboat up the Ohio River into Cincinnati. Then it was displayed at Goodale Park in Columbus as a part of a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Northwest Territory. Next it traveled by railroad car across the nation, finally landing back in Columbus where it was situated on the Ohio State Fairground. In 1896 a Grant Memorial structure was constructed around the house and was dedicated by President William McKinley the following year.

As the 100th anniversary of Grant’s birth approached, a movement arose to move the structure back to its original location in Point Pleasant. Finally in 1936, it was dismantled in sections, shipped by truck, and reconstructed on its original foundation. One year later the Ohio River flooded Point Pleasant and the home was engulfed by water up to its roof. It was just over sixty years later that the home was engulfed by Bob and me as we made our first visit.

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 My photo of the Grant birthplace from 1998

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The room in which he was born – which is the only room in the house – with the original baby cradle in which the President once slept

A small welcome and museum area with a few relics had been added on to the front of the original cabin. One interesting item that was in the house at that time was the baby cradle in which a baby Hiram Ulysses Grant (the President’s given name) once slept. Our second visit came ten years later as Bob, Jackie, and I were touring the Cincinnati region. The house was virtually unchanged since the first visit – except for the baby cradle had now been replaced with a representative cradle from the period, which bothered me a bit. Eventually the docent told me where that cradle was now located.

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 Entering Point Pleasant, Ohio

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 With the Grant Historic District sign in the Memorial Park next to the house

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 The birth home

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 And from the opposite angle

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 The Ohio Historical Marker

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 Inside the birth room again, now with a non-original cradle

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 In lieu of having my photo with the Bible on which Grant was sworn into office, this Bible was presented to him on his Inauguration Day by the American Bible Society

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 That happens to be General Grant!

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Time to move on to the next Grant location

Sunday, August 3, 2008 –  Ulysses S. Grant Boyhood Home and Schoolhouse – The next stop for the Grant family after Point Pleasant was Georgetown, just about twenty miles east into Ohio. Here the family would remain for fifteen years, from 1824-1839. His father Jesse established a tannery just across the street – which is now a residential home. Although all of the furnishings in the house were non-originals, that elusive cradle that once adorned the birth home was now located here.

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 The Ohio Historical Marker at Georgetown

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 Outside the Grant boyhood home

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 The President’s bedroom. If anyone on a historical tour ever asks what that device is that I am holding, tell them it is used to wind the bed ropes tight. You’ll get a star for the day.

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 Finally reunited with the original cradle in which President Grant once slept

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The Grant tannery across the street from the boyhood home

Bob, Jackie, and I toured the two-story home during our Cincinnati tour and then moved on to the Grant Schoolhouse. Young Hiram attended classes here between 1829, when it was first built, and 1835. Most of the furniture and items inside were of the period, but there was one bench that was from the time period when Grant attended school there.

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 The schoolhouse where President Grant attended

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In the famous squatting postion over the original bench that was there when Grant attended – which was clearly designated as a ‘do not sit’ structure

Thursday, July 12, 2012 – Grant Cottage – Site of Ulysses S. Grant’s Death – One of the most fascinating Presidential sites I have ever visited sits at the base of the Adirondack Mountains just north of Saratoga Springs, New York.  Its location near the mountains (and the cool air that resulted from being near them) was the precise reason that Ulysses S. Grant and his family re-located here for just over a month.

Grant was in the throes of throat cancer, but wanted to finish his memoirs in order to leave his family a tidy nest egg after his death. Author Mark Twain fronted Grant $25,000, and the Grants were offered the mountain cottage on the slope of Mount McGregor in the town of Wilton by owner Joseph W. Drexel, and banker and fan of Grant’s. The Grants moved in on June 16, 1885.

The memoirs were finished just three days before Grant passed away in the house on July 23, 1885. Grant’s son Frederick Dent Grant stopped the clock on the mantel at 8:03, at the time he breathed his last that morning. The house has remained virtually untouched since then.

A tour of this house is a bit like stepping back in time, as about every furnishing in it was there on the day of his passing, including the bed he in which he was laying. It is amazing to match up photographs that were taken in the days following his death with the real thing right in front of you. Although it was a little creepy, even the floral arrangements that were present at his funeral on August 4 were still there. They look as if a wisp of wind would cause them to collapse into dust.

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State Historical marker at the site

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Photo of the Grant family at the cottage during the summer of 1885

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Me and the cottage

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Another plaque donated by the Sons of Veterans on display at the cottage

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Some of the President’s belongings on display

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The pad and pencil that Grant used when he could not longer speak, along with two notes that he dicated to be sent to the homeowner Joseph Drexel

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The living room, still arranged as it had been for the Grants

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The floral displays that surrounded the casket

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The floral displays more than 125 years later

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The reception room, which was used as Grant’s bedroom, and the bed in which Grant died

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The reception room today

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The clock on the mantel, which was manually stopped at the moment Grand died

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With the fold-up bed in which he died

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Ulysses S. Grant sitting on the porch of the cottage

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Sitting in that same spot today

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The very chair in wich he was sitting in the photo of him above

Very easily hikeable from the cottage is a nice overlook that Grant like to visit. He enjoyed it so much that a plaque was placed at the supposed last spot that he sat and took his view of the area. Due to vandals over the yeas, a fence has been built around the marker.

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The marker indicating Grant’s last view of the overlook

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Grant’s view of the overlook

Sunday, March 22, 2015 – Grave of Jesse Root and Hannah Simpson Grant – During a stop at the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio, I made it a point to check out the grave of the parents of President Grant.

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The parents of President Grant

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 / Saturday, June 1, 2013 – Grave of Ulysses S. Grant – I had been driven past the tomb of Ulysses S. Grant, located in northwest Manhattan, on my way to a Chiller Theatre show way back in 2009, but we didn’t have time to stop there so that age-old question of “who is buried in Grant’s tomb” could be answered. I knew the day would come, but I was completely disappointed after taking subways, a taxi, and a bit of a hike to find that due to government cutbacks, the tomb was only opened up for visitation Thursdays thru Mondays. My friend Bob and I arrived on a Tuesday. Therefore all we were able to do was take photos from the outside, which left me with an unsatisfying answer as to whether I had officially visited the grave.

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It was even fenced off during our first visit, so this was as close as I could get…at first

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Naturally I found a way to circumvent the fencing

Fortunately, later that week we found ourselves back in the area, this time with a rental car, the time to visit, and finding the doors open to the public. Inside we found the answer to that question: no one is buried. Both Ulysses and his wife Julia Dent Grant are entombed above ground.

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Second visit of the week, this one more successful

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This is who is (not) buried in Grant’s tomb

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Some of the artwork inside the monument

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Me and Ulysses, as well as the missus

I found it a little ironic that as difficult as Grant worked until his dying day to raise money for his family, that enough private donations poured in after his death so that this monument could be erected twelve years later – being inaugurated on April 27, 1897.

Continue to the next President

Return to Saturday in Ohio 1998… (under construction)

Return to Sunday in Ohio 2008…

Return to Tuesday and Saturday in New York 2013…

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