Jesse Grant (1794-1873)

Jesse Grant, 69 years

Jesse Grant, 69 years

Rare information on the early years of Ulysses Grant’s father, Jesse Root Grant
  • 1794 January 23, Jesse Grant born near Greensburg, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania: “a pretty little town, situated on a high hill” [description in 1810 by Margaret Van Horn in A journey to Ohio in 1810]. When Jesse Grant was born, the family consisted of two siblings: a 15-year old half-brother, Peter [see Peter Grant biography, below] and a 2-year old sister, Susan. The next year sister Margaret was born, and two years hence, a brother Noah was born there.† Jesse Grant parents were originally following western expansion along the Connecticut Western Reserve.
  • 1799 [5 yrs old] family moved to East Liverpool, Ohio [in a group of 6 log houses then called Fawcettstown] via Mononagahela and Ohio Rivers.**
  • 1799 [5 yrs old] brother John Kelly Grant born
  • 1802-1804 [8-10 yrs old] lived in Youngstown, Ohio. A brother, Roswell, and sister, Rachel, were born there.†
  • 1804 [10 yrs old] family moved to Deerfield, Hamilton County, Ohio.
  • 1805 [11 yrs old] April 10 Jesse’s mother died.
  • 1805-1808 [11-14 yrs old] Jesse worked in Ohio at undesignated places before residing with Judge George Tod’s family (see 1808-1810). Jesse’s sister Margaret and brother Roswell lived with James Hillman; and Noah with the youngest children lived in Youngstown Ohio. [Harriet Taylor Upton and Harry Gardner Cutler, History of the Western Reserve, Vol. I, pg. 606, Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Co., 1910]
  • 1808-1810 [14-16 yrs old] Jesse and his oldest sibling, Susan, lived in Youngstown, Ohio, with family of Judge George Tod Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court. Tod’s then 4-6-year-old son, David Tod, in 1862 became 25th Governor of Ohio.
  • 1810-1812 [16-18 yrs old] lived in Deerfield, Ohio in the house of Owen Brown while working at Brown’s tannery. Also in the house was Owen Brown’s son, John Brown, later anti-slavery martyr of Kansas and Harper’s Ferry. Jesse maintained the highest regard for John Brown in later years, during Brown’s fight against slavery.
  • 1811 [17 yrs old] Jesse’s father Noah Grant, bringing the 2 youngest children, moves to Peter Grant’s house in Maysville, Kentucky
  • 1812-1815 [18-21 yrs old] apprentice at half-brother Peter Grant’s tannery in Maysville, Kentucky
  • 1815 [21 yrs old] tannery owner in Deerfield, Ohio.
  • c. 1816-1819 [22-25 yrs old] tannery co-owner with John F. Wells in Ravenna, Portage County, Ohio. Jesse roomed at an inn across from his tannery with an employee. [Owen Brown was county commissioner in Ravenna.]
  • 1819 [25 yrs old] began courting Prudence Hall of Ravenna
  • 1819 [25 yrs old] Jesse ill with ague and unable to work, lost his savings
  • 1819 February 14 [25 yrs old] Jesse’s father Noah Grant dies in Maysville, Kentucky
  • 1820 January [26 yrs old] travels to Maysville, Kentucky to recuperate from ague/maleria
  • 1820 [26 yrs old] recovers from illness; works at Thomas Page’s tannery in Bethel, Ohio
  • 1820 June [26 yrs old] tannery foreman for Thomas Page in Point Pleasant, Ohio; moves to Point Pleasant
  • 1821 [27 yrs old] brother Noah died
  • 1821 June 24 [27 yrs old] marries Hannah Simpson
  • c. 1821 [27 yrs old] General Lytle [probably William, d. 1831] offered Jesse a tannery in Cincinnati, but Jesse preferred “a sure thing” and refused the responsibility
  • 1822 April 27 [28 yrs old] son, Hiram Ulysses Grant is born about 5:30 a.m.
  • 1823 August 23 [29 yrs old] bought land in Georgetown, Ohio — bought land in Georgetown, Ohio for $40 from Thomas Morris and William Middleton; filing land transfer papers with Thomas Hamer, J.P.
  • 1823 late-Summer to Autumn built a currier shop, tannery, and a small 2-story brick house in Georgetown
  • 1823 Autumn moved his wife and son Ulysses to new house
  • 1823 Autumn: built a modest 2-story brick house
  • 1824 [30 yrs old] voted Andrew Jackson for President
  • 1825 [31 yrs old] son Samuel Simpson born
  • 1825 added kitchen lean-to behind house
  • 1828 [34 yrs old] daughter Clara Rachel born
  • 1828 front 2-story house addition
  • 1828 voted Andrew Jackson for President
  • 1829 [35 yrs old] half-brother Peter Grant died
  • 1829 [35 yrs old] worked to elect Thomas Hamer as Speaker of Ohio Representatives
  • 1831 [37 yrs old] unsuccessfully ran for representative of Brown county against James Pilson
  • 1832 [38 yrs old] daughter Virginia Paine born
  • 1832 [38 yrs old] working with Thomas Hamer, Jesse prepared official address for the county convention, and helped build up the Georgetown debating society
  • 1832 wrote a caustic letter to the Castigator newspaper which severed his friendship with Thomas Hamer
  • 1832 voted Andrew Jackson for President
  • 1832 brother, John died in Texas. Jesse traveled to Texas soon after, and published a long account of his trip. ☼
  • c. 1832 Jesse, with 10-year-old son Ulysses Grant, helps his sister Margaret (1795-1873) Ulysses’s aunt, auction property in Deerfield, Ohio, and move to Georgetown after her husband John G. Marshall died. Her children were William S., 14, [b. 1818], Lucretia, 13 [b. 1819], James H., [b. 1820], John, [b. 1823], and Lucy, 4 . [b. 1828], William was the only child to stay in Deerfield with a friend of the family.
  • c. 1832-1837 [38-43 yrs old] Jesse’s nephew recently of Deerfield, Ohio, John Marshall, works at Jesse’s tannery from the age of 9 to 14 years old. [Afterwards John Marshall worked as a printer, and then studied law.]☼☼
  • 1832 [38 yrs old] Jesse, Thomas Hamer and Daniel Barney were appointed a committee to prepare an address to rally Democratic voters of Brown county.
  • c. 1833 Jesse built the brick 2-story front addition to the Georgetown house.
  • 1833 travels to Coventry, Connecticut to conduct business concerning 200 acre inheritance for Peter Grant’s heirs.
  • 1834 Jesse built Georgetown jail.
  • 1834 Jesse engaged in a lawsuit; needed deposition from Louisville.
  • 1835 son Orvil Lynch born
  • 1835 Jesse hires a tannery journeyman who steals Jesse’s leather and tries to sell it to a shoemaker, who turns him in. Jesse orders the journeyman-thief to leave town, but he refuses, and draws a knife. Jesse disarms him, sends Ulysses for his cowhide, and whips the journeyman a dozen times with all his might. The journeyman still refuses to leave until some village tuffs march him out of town.
  • 1836 Jesse didn’t vote for President, lacking faith in Van Buren.
  • 1837 served as the Whig mayor of Georgetown, Ohio.
  • 1838 Jesse enrolled his son Ulysses in anti-slavery leader John Rankin’s academy for the winter.
  • 1839 Jesse writes a letter to Senator Thomas Morris, inquiring about appointments to West Point Military Academy for Ulysses, and is referred to Thomas Hamer. On February 19th Jesse writes a request to Hamer, his enemy since 1832. Hamer generously gives Ulysses the appointment.
  • 1839 West Point accepts his son Ulysses, and Ulysses leaves home on May 15th.
  • 1839 daughter Mary Frances born
  • 1839 last year of Jesse’s mayorship
  • 1840 voted Harrison for President.
  • 1841 bought house from Thomas Morris located to northwest corner of Water and Charity Streets in Bethel, Ohio, and his tannery was on the southwest corner of Charity and Water Streets.
  • 1841 Summer Ulysses visits on furlough from West Point
  • after 1842 Philip Bergen Swing of Bavavia, Ohio becomes Jesse’s lawyer. As President Grant, Ulysses appoints Swing to a judgeship in the US District Court.
  • 1847 sold the Georgetown home to Marshall Jenning for $2600
  • 1851 Jesse became first mayor of Bethel.
  • 1854 moved to Covington, KY.
  • 1854 opens leather store on Madison Ave., Covington.
  • 1855 campaigned for Salmon P. Chase for Governor of Ohio.
  • c. 1865 President Andrew Johnson nominates Jesse position of Covington postmaster.

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Ulysses Grant’s father

Jesse Grant (1794-1873) was born near Greensbury, Pennsylvania on the Monongahela River. He was named after Jesse Root (1736-1822) Chief Justice of the Superior Court in Connecticut, who was from Coventry, Connecticut, as was his father, Noah. After Jesse’s mother Rachel (Miller) Grant died in 1805, Jesse lived with the family of Judge George Tod. Judge Tod was Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court between 1806 and 1809.

Noah Grant (1748-1819) Jesse Grant’s father, started in the leather trade, and Jesse continued by apprenticing at a tannery owned by his paternal half-brother Peter Grant in Maysville, Kentucky.

Jesse also worked for future-abolitionist John Brown’s father, Owen Brown, in Jesse’s hometown of Deerfield, Ohio. Harold I. Gullan, in his book, Faith of Our Mothers, mentioned that Jesse Grant moved to Ravenna, Ohio “because he hated slavery” [in Kentucky]. At the same time, Owen Brown was also seen in Ravenna, Ohio. Following is a reminiscence written in Ravenna, Ohio, circa 1816.

“[South of Main Street, Ravenna, Ohio] you will see two men lifting something from a rude wagon. One of the men is a farmer and he has just sold a couple of ox hides to the other. The buyer is a sturdy looking young man of about twenty-three years; whose sleeves are rolled up, and who has on a leather apron, for he is a tanner. He will have a son after a while, however, who will carry his name ringing down the ages, for it is Jesse R. Grant, who had just gone into business with John F. Wells, on the now Gretzinger lots…. Jared Mason, who came from Beaver County, Penn., in 1810 started this tannery and did a lucrative business for three years, dying in 1813. In 1815 John F. Wells married the widow, and thus came into possession of the tannery.”

“…there comes Owen Brown the father of John Brown, of Harper’s Ferry renown. Owen Brown is, also, one of the County Commissioners, and there is going to be a meeting here to-day. Here he comes on his old bay horse along the road from Franklin…”

— History of Portage County, Ohio, 1885.

Jesse Grant, 23, co-owned a tannery in Ravenna and shipped the leather to what would become his future home at Point Pleasant, Ohio.* He became sick, could not worked and lost his savings. He moved to Maysville, Kentucky, current home of his father and brother until he recovered.

In 1820 Jesse worked at a tannery in Bethel, Ohio for a short time until the owner of the tannery, Thomas Page, hired him as a foreman at his Point Pleasant, Ohio tannery. Jesse moved to Point Pleasant and rented a cabin next to the tannery. The above picture of the Point Pleasant tannery was taken years about 70 years after Grant family left Point Pleasant. Since then, the stone foundation became a foundation for the Point Pleasant church.

It was through Thomas Page that Jesse met his wife-to-be, Hannah Simpson. In 1821 Jesse married Hannah, and in 1822, their first child, Ulysses was born.

Their cabin was near the banks of the Ohio River and the mouth of Big Indian Creek.

By October 1823 Jesse had saved $1100.00 to start his own tannery, and the Grant family moved to Georgetown, Ohio for that purpose. Georgetown, about 22 miles east from Point Pleasant, was 8 miles from the Ohio river, near White Oak Creek.

In Georgetown Jesse’s industry, wealth and family increased. He worked as a tanner, butcher, hauler, builder (he built the town jail), and he owned a carriage-service and two small farms. Eventually he owned tanneries in Portsmouth, Kentucky on the Ohio River, a leather store in Galena, Illinois, and branch stores at La Crosse, Wisconsin and near Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

**The Ancestry of General Grant and their Contemporaries, by Edward C. Marshall. New York, Sheldon & co., 1869.
††Grant, By William S. McFeely, 2002
☼ Richardson, Albert G. Personal History of U. S. Grant American Publishing Co. 1868, pg.69
☼☼ The Biographical Encyclopedia of Ohio of the Nineteenth-Century Cincinnati: Galaxy Publishing Co., 1876.


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