Every summer we make a bucket list of places and things we would like to do. And this summer we decided to visit all the Ohio Presidential sites. Mind you, there are 8 Presidential sites in Ohio. Our First stop on our Ohio Presidential Tour is the birthplace of our 18th President, Ulysses S. Grant in Point Pleasant, Ohio.
Ulysses S. Grant (April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885)
18th President of the United States (1869–77).
Commanding General of the United States Army (1864–69)
Birthplace: Point Pleasant, OH
Our drive down to Grant’s birthplace was so scenic. The hills, though they seriously made this momma car sick (thank God for Dramamine), also provided such a magnificent view that we NW Ohio peeps don’t have the pleasure of relishing. As we pulled up to Grant’s birthplace home it reminded me of a little town you would see on a train board, complete with a church on a hill, whitewashed everything, etc. it was so cute and quaint.
Our tour guide, Jim, greeted us at the door. Now, I will admit, going into this I think we were all kind of anticipating a boring, monotone, anticlimactic kinda tour, and what we received was the complete opposite. In fact Jim’s passion and enthusiasm for our 18th president became contagious, by the end of our tour the kids couldn’t wait to go to the next Presidential site.
Here are my Top Highlights from the Tour (I don’t want to give them all away….you need to have something to look forward to when you visit, wink wink).
What’s in a name?– Ulysses S. Grant was actually born Hiram Ulysses Grant. He despised the name Hiram and never went by it; he always went by his middle name, Ulysses, or Lysse. So where did the S in Ulysses S. Grant come from? When congressman Thomas L. Hamer nominated him for Military Academy at West Point he assumed his name was Ulysses Simpson Grant due to the fact that he had always gone by Ulysses and back then the mothers maiden name was often used as the middle name. Grant tried to explain that it wasn’t his name but all the forms had it written already and since he hated the name Hiram it was the perfect opportunity to be rid of that name, which was probably a good thing since his initials had to be sewn onto everything at the Academy and having the initials H.U.G. would have probably resulted in a lot of harassment from the other guys. Note the chest at the foot of the bed, which is Grant’s actual chest that he took with him to the Academy (it did not photograph well thanks to the Plexiglas).
Family Heirloom– The hutch below was a wedding present to Grant’s parents, talk about a piece of history, I am a sucker for all antiques! I was totally excited when Jim said we could touch the piece (they usually don’t let you touch anything…and yes, I am worse than the kids, lol!), though it looks smooth it was really rough, when you look at it upclose the craftsmanship was apparent….I am a history of furniture junky, so I found this piece to be quite fascinating.
Did momma get that out with A-L-L (stain lifter!?)-There were a lot of period pieces in the one room house and a handful of actual pieces/items that belonged to the Grant family, including the nightgown hanging on the wall, which was Grant’s mother’s nightgown. We are talking about an almost 2 hundred year old nightgown. Anyone else dying to know how she laundered it? I have shirts in my drawer that don’t look that white!
Next round is on Lincoln!-When McClellan got wind of Lincoln wishing to make Grant a three Star Lieutenant General, (only George Washington had risen to that rank in the U.S. Army before him), he protested by stating that Grant shouldn’t receive this ranking because he drank an excess of alcohol. To which Lincoln replied, “Find out what Grant drinks and send a barrel of it to each of my other generals!” Here is a copy of the letter from President Lincoln addressing Grant as Lieutenant General …..
Isn’t it Romantic & Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb? – Grant died from throat cancer on July 23, 1885—four days after completing his memoirs (memoirs that he only wrote because he wanted to leave his wife with money…he had lost it all when he fell victim to a Ponzi scheme) On August 8, 1885, more than a million people attended his funeral procession, which was seven miles long and lasted five hours. Money was a concern with regard to his funeral arrangements; he could have been buried in Arlington Cemetery and it wouldn’t have cost anything but he refused because he wanted to be buried with his wife….I totally let out a vocal, and loud, AWWWW, when I heard this, how romantic! Speaking of romantic, she carried a lock of his hair for always in her locket.
A public foundation was formed to fund a memorial & within two years, approximately 90,000 people from around the country and the world donated more than $600,000 to construct Grant’s tomb. (At the time, it was the largest public fundraising effort ever). Designed by architect John Duncan, Grant’s Tomb was completed in 12 years and remains the largest mausoleum in North America.
And there was so much more that we learned about Grant’s family, childhood, etc. in fact, I learned so many intriguing things about Grant that I now wish to read his Memoirs and I can honestly say that prior to visiting his birthplace I had little, to no interest, in doing so.
Kiddos got their first stamp in their Ohio Historic Passports…..
Explore Ohio, a state rich with stories of Native American and African American culture, 19th-century life, ancient earthworks, presidential heritage, space travel and more. Enjoy your visits. Have fun while you learn. And don’t miss the chance to capture a memorable adventure that is uniquely yours!
Within your passport you’ll find helpful information about each Ohio History Connection site. As you visit, you can collect site stamps representing each location and answer challenging trivia questions.
Passports will be available at the Ohio History Center and many of our sites throughout Ohio.