Ulysses S. Grant Tour — Springfield, Illinois to the Ohio River

We’re back from a tour of U. S. Grant-related historic sites in the United States having to do with the earlier years of Ulysses until 1861:

1861:  We visited the Old State Capital in Illinois after seeing Abraham Lincoln’s house in Springfield.  Ulysses Grant was hired by Governor Yates in 1861 to help with Civil War recruitment, and had a small office tucked underneath a spiralling staircase at the State House.

1861: Proceeding from the Old State House eastward a number of blocks, we visited the site where Grant had his first command of soldiers–the 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Originally the area was the state agricultural fairgrounds before its conversion to a Civil War military training camp. Today it is a gracious suburb with historic homes.  Two memorial plaques commemorate the historic military grounds. One is a plaque on an elementary school building…

Obelisk monument commemorating Ulysses Grant's first command in the Civil War.

…the other object commemorating Grant’s command of the 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry is a stone obelisk which now stands in a private garden…

pre-1862:  Next, we visited the Underground Railroad Museum on the Ohio River waterfront in Cincinnati, Ohio.  One of the most memorable items there was an original slave pen previously owned by a slave-trader on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River.  This large slave pen was originally located across the river from about Ripley, Ohio, where Grant had gone to school. 

1854-: Across the river from Cincinnati, Covington Kentucky sits perched with splendid brick mansions, each more handsome than the last. This is where Jesse Grant and his wife Hannah retired to in 1854. Actually, Jesse still had leather-goods concerns, but retired amiably from his partnership with E. A. Collins in Galena, and was taking steps to pass the torch to his sons. We found Jesse’s house in Covington Kentucky and was able to take a tour of an apartment-for-rent in the building…




1806-1866: Maysville, Kentucky was a delightfully relaxing Southern river town. We found the grave of Ulysses’s uncle Peter Grant in Maysville, see video, above. A number of events happened in Maysville, Kentucky relating to the Grant family. I hope to cover it separately in another post.

1838-1839: With the great exception of the John Rankin House Museum, Ripley Ohio didn’t look as attractive to me as Maysville, Kentucky where we had just left. The downtown area, full of underground railroad and Ohio River history, didn’t seem to emphasize this history or any other advantage–at least what I saw.  The downtown, directly on the riverfront, has beautiful potential.  ABOVE the downtown area, on top of the mountain, is the spacious grounds and beautifully preserved John Rankin [abolitionist leader] house museum.  From this altitude you can view the many steps to downtown Ripley below, and the breathtaking vista of the winding Ohio River and Kentucky.  I want to apologize now to any Ripley resident if I missed some highlights of the downtown area.  I hope to visit again now that I have the rough location of where Ulysses Grant lived while attending Rankin’s school in 1838-1839.  I’ll wait for the publication of the new book on Ulysses S. Grant to tell you why Marion Johnson who boarded Ulysses and his neighbor were of surprising political interest…

1823-1839:  We missed the Georgetwon Ohio boyhood home of Ulysses S. Grant by 5 minutes!

1841-1854: Bethel, Ohio: We are still looking for the original location of Thomas Morris’s house, Jesse Grant’s house, and Ulysses’s maternal grandparents house.

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