1823-1838 Georgetown, Ohio

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TIMELINE: Ulysses Grant in Georgetown, Ohio

Years are often approximate, as many accounts vary.
We try to pick the most reliable.

  • 1823 Autumn (1-year old) Grant family moves to Georgetown
  • 1825 Sept 23 (3-years old) brother Samuel Simpson born
  • c. 1827-1831 (5-9 years) Play: at creek in back of father’s tannery; near horses
  • c. 1827 (c. 5 years) first teacher was Mr. Barney at Georgetown school
  • 1828 Dec 11 (6 years) sister Clara Rachel born
  • 1828 (6 years) addition added to family house
  • c. 1828-c.1836 (c. 6-13 years) Went to John D. White’s subscription school in Georgetown. White taught the class except for when USG was 11-12 years old when the teacher was Thomas Upham
  • 1829 Jan. (6 years) uncle Peter Grant from Maysville, Kentucky died
  • 1829 (6 years) rides horses to water
  • 1830 (7.5 years) hitched a 3-year-old colt to sled alone for 1st time and hauled brush
  • c. 1830-1839 (8-17 years) hauled wood for the his family’s house and business
  • 1832 February (9 years) sister Virginia Paine born
  • 1832 (9 years) broke horses to pace
  • 1832 (10 years) uncle John Grant died in Texas
  • 1832 (10 years) Ulysses would drive a span of horses delivering leather to Cincinnati and bring home a load of passengers….He would travel there with a load of goods, such as rags to sell, earning his own money, and staying overnight at the best hotel The Dennison House.**
  • 1832 (10 years) A traveling phrenologist read Ulysses’s head and predicted, “You need not be surprised if you see this boy fill the Presidential chair.”
  • 1832 or 1833 (11 years) Ulysses, with his father, travels to Deerfield, Ohio to help his aunt Margaret (1795-1873) auction property and remove her and four of her children to Georgetown after his uncle John G. Marshall died. His cousins were William S., 15, who stayed in Deerfield with a family friend, and the cousins who moved to Georgetown were Lucretia, 14, James H., 13, John, 10, and Lucy, 5. Ulysses and James [or John] at one point earned money on the trip by carrying baggage to a riverboat.
  • 1833 (11 years) The Grant house more than doubled in size, with a new front addition
  • c. 1833 (11 years) Ulysses bets his cousin John Marshall that he can jump 20 feet at a standing leep. Ulysses won the bet — do you know how?
  • c 1834 (before 12 years) He tells his father he doesn’t want to be a tanner
  • 1834 (12 years) Bargained for and bought a horse
  • 1834 (12 years) Ulysses took a steamboat to Louisville alone to deliver a deposition for his father; rode to Augusta, Kentucky and stayed overnight to take passengers back
  • c. 1834 (12 years) Ulysses hauled wood for the construction of the county jail being built by his father, which took over 7 months
  • 1835 May 15 (13 years) brother Orvil Lynch born
  • 1835 (13 years) Ulysses fetched a cowhide whip for his father to punish an employee who had stolen six of Jesse’s calfskins to trade for whiskey at a Georgetown tavern. Jesse whipped the thief a dozen times with all his power, and the man was run out of town by others in the tavern
  • 1837 (15 years) With a horse team and wagon he independently hauled a 7′ x 4′ x 5″ stone for a step to a house in town from White Oak Creek
  • 1837 November 13 tooth extracted in Georgetown
  • 1837-1838 Ulysses attends a local subscription school
  • 1833-1839 (11-17 years) Chores — “all the work done with horses…breaking up the land, furrowing, ploughing corn and potatoes, bringing in the crops when harvested, hauling all the wood, besides tending two or three horses, a cow or two, and sawing wood for stoves…” Play: “fishing, going to the creek a mile away to swim in summer, taking a horse and visiting my grandparents in the adjoining county, fifteen miles off, skating on the ice in winter, or taking a horse and sleigh…” and whittling
  • c. Winter 1838-1839 (16-17 years) Ulysses’s father Jesse, applied to representative for Ulysses’s admission to United States Military Academy at West Point. When Ulysses arrived home from Ripley Academy for the holidays, his father Jesse and he talked about his career.

    Grant family house in Georgetown, OhioHABS photo: Georgetown, Ohio, Grant's boyhood home HABS photo: Grant's boyhood home, Georgetown, Ohio

    In 1823, Jesse Grant moved to Georgetown, Ohio and built a brick residence at [present address] 219 East Grant Avenue, above. He added additions in 1825 and 1828.*

    By 1830, Jesse Grant owned about 50 acres of land a mile away from Georgetown. He used the land for firewood, and for the bark-mill in his tannery.  When Ulysses was not more than eight, although he was too young to pack cordwood, he hauled the wood after it was packed in a 2-horse wagon. He would return to the woods the same day for another delivery.

    “In my early days, every one labored more or less, in the region where my youth was spent, and more in proportion to their private means….While my father carried on the manufacture of leather and worked at the trade himself, he owned and tilled considerable land. I detested the trade, preferring almost any other labor; but I was fond of agriculture, and of all employment in which horses were used. We had, among other lands, fifty acres of forest within a mile of the village. In the fall of the year choppers were employed to cut enough wood to last a twelve-month. When I was seven or eight years of age, I began hauling all the wood used in the house and shops. I could not load it on the wagons, of course, at that time, but I could drive, and the choppers would load, and some one at the house unload. When about eleven years old, I was strong enough to hold a plough. From that age until seventeen I did all the work done with horses, such as breaking up the land, furrowing, ploughing corn and potatoes, bringing in the crops when harvested, hauling all the wood, besides tending two or three horses, a cow or two, and sawing wood for stoves, etc., while still attending school. For this I was compensated by the fact that there was never any scolding or punishing by my parents; no objection to rational enjoyments, such as fishing, going to the creek a mile away to swim in summer, taking a horse and visiting my grandparents in the adjoining county, fifteen miles off, skating on the ice in winter, or taking a horse and sleigh when there was snow on the ground.”

    — Memoirs, by Ulysses S. Grant, 1885

    Jesse Grant’s tannery in Georgetown, Ohio, across the street from the Grant house. The open shed stretched 100 feet to the side.

    . . . . .

    Neighborhood School Georgetown, Ohio

    John D. White had the subscription school on South Water Street in Georgetown from 1828-1839 where Ulysses went to school.  Ulysses started when he was 6 years old, White’s first year in business. His sons, Carr B. White and Chilton A. White, went to the school, and were two of Ulysses earliest friends.

    Grant's first school year.Ulys Grant's school, first year.

    Ulysses first year of school was within sight of the Grant residence, on what is now East Grant Avenue, Georgetown, Ohio.  The Grant house and tannery were at the bottom of the hill. Thereafter, except for a year at school in Maysville, Kentucky and a year at school in Ripley, Ohio, Grant attended John White’s subscription school on South Water Street, Georgetown, a few blocks away from their home.

    “My father was, from my earliest recollection, in comfortable circumstances, considering the times, his place of residence, and the community in which he lived. Mindful of his own lack of facilities for acquiring an education, his greatest desire in maturer years was for the education of his children. Consequently, as stated before, I never missed a quarter from school from the time I was old enough to attend till the time of leaving home. This did not exempt me from labor.

    “My life in Georgetown was uneventful. From the age of five or six until seventeen, I attended the subscription schools of the village, except during the winters of 1836-7 and 1838-9…”

    — Memoirs, by Ulysses S. Grant, 1885


    **Coolidge, Louis Arthur, Ulysses S. Grant, pg. 10-12.
    Wilson, James Harrison and Dana, Charles Anderson, The Life of Ulysses S. Grant

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