When the cottage is closed, you still have the opportunity to hear the stories of the Cottage and other related themes from our staff and volunteers.

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Events Calendar

The Cottage is an ideal destination for viewing historic events near Saratoga Springs and the Capital Region.  The Cottage hosts numerous public events throughout the season such as family days, our Porch Chat Series of history lectures and portrayals, as well as acknowledgements of Grant's death and funeral.

Most events are free with tours of the Cottage at their regular fee.  Please check below for this year's calendar listing and descriptions. 
Our program planning committee has already been busy putting the event schedule together for 2015.  Please check back here periodically to see the latest updates.

All programs begin at 1pm unless otherwise noted.

May 24
Farewell General Grant

Grant FamilyIn March 1, 1885, America and the world learned that internationally renowned Civil War General and former President, Ulysses S. Grant, was dying of throat cancer.  Grant had been financially ruined in the 19th Century’s most famous Ponzi scheme in May 1884.  A concerned and sympathetic public watched his race with death to complete his memoirs.  If completed, they would provide a stable income for his suddenly impoverished family.

In the setting of Grant Cottage in 1907, the drama, tragedy and eventual triumph of 1884 to 1885 come to life through a collection of Grant stories and letters told and read by Martha Kelsey Clarke, Grant Cottage caretaker (portrayed by Melissa Trombley-Prosch). Martha’s grand-niece, Christine Curtiss (portrayed by Trinity McCabe) and brother, (Joseph) Samuel Kelsey (portrayed by Jonathan Duda), will also participate in the program.

Cookies, baked using vintage recipes, and lemonade will be served after the program.

Presented by Melissa Trombley-Prosch.

June 10
Meet Duncan McGregor
The Cottage where Ulysses S. Grant died was built by Duncan McGregor, an eccentric but savvy businessman from Glens Falls. It was said that Duncan was a direct descendant of Rob Roy McGregor, the Scottish Robin Hood, and there's no doubt he shared Rob Roy's brilliance, audacity and stubbornness. But a closer look at his family tree might have revealed that Duncan had another claim to fame: He might have been U.S. Grant's distant cousin. In Scotland's ancient days, Clan McGregor's closest ally was Clan Grant. There was much intermarriage between the two groups. Join Duncan McGregor as he reminisces about life on his mountain and examines his family tree, searching for roots connecting him to General Ulysses S. Grant.  

Grant Cottage tour guide Steve Trimm will portray Duncan McGregor.

June 17
General Grant's Order #11
General Grant issued Order #11 on December 17, 1862 - and was immediately plunged into a shameful controversy. Order #11 would embarrass the General so deeply, he would make no reference to it in his Memoirs. The Order expelled Jews from the Department of the Tennessee, a vast military district running from the Ohio River to the Gulf of Mexico. Order #11 was a case of blatant bigotry, and so unlike Grant that the questions must be asked: Why did he issue the Order at all? Why did he so quickly rescind it? And how did his remorse over the matter eventually lead him to a special redemption?

Grant Cottage tour guide Steve Trimm will present this talk.

June 21
Cottage Sampler

Enjoy the music of
 Iron Jacks ♫   
* Scavenger Hunt for Students
* Learn Morse Code
* Ice Cream!!!!!! 

June 24
 Welcome Home, President & Mrs. Grant!
Ulysses S. Grant couldn't wait to leave t
he White House. Retirement allowed him to indulge in his favorite pastime: travel. Within weeks of leaving Washington D.C. the former President and First Lady began a tour of the world. It would take them two years to circle the globe. It's 1879, Ulysses and Julia are home and they have fascinating stories to tell of foreign cultures and societies - and how America is viewed by the peoples of Europe, the Middle East and the Orient. Perhaps for the first time, the United States is regarded everywhere with admiration and respect and the First Couple is eager to report the good news. Presented by Steve Trimm and Melissa Trombley-Prosch.

June 28
Keeping Time in Grant's Time
A presentation on 19th century horology featuring a display of original period time pieces from Grant's day and a discussion of the early American clock and watch industry. Included will be little known facts about time keeping on Mt. McGregor and observations about the iconic "Grant cottage" clock which was stoped at the time of Grant's eath and why it is belived that it has never run since that fateful day in July 1885.  Visitors will be able to view the innermost workings of 150 year old clocks and receive a tutorial on how they operate.

Presented by Grant Cottage volunteer tour guide and horologist Stephen Betts.

 July 1, 2pm
Patriotic Sing-a-long
Guitarist and vocalist, Judy Rosebrook invites guests on the historic porch to enjoy music that played a role in traditional 4th of July celebrations.  Tap your feet, hum along, and get ready for the 4th! 

July 5
Collections and Discovery
"Children's Toys in the Grant Era Household" Dr. Lisa Pleban will be providing a hands on presentation at 1pm.

Civil War soldiers, from the North and the South,  carried a wide range of weaponry.  At 3pm,  a private collector will provide information about the evolution and design of the the Confederate Richmond Musket and the Springfield Rifle.     Weaponry models on the cottage porch will include: sabers (1840 heavy cavalry, 1860 light cavalry) and swords (1850 foot officer, 1840 military and 1832 artillery).

July 12

General Grant and the Rewriting of History

Local Author Frank Varney will be presenting and signing copies of his book, General Grant and the Rewriting of History: How the Destruction of General William S. Rosecrans Influenced Our Understanding of the Civil War.

In 1885, a former president of the United States published one of the most influential books ever written about the Civil War. An entire generation of Americans had eagerly awaited his memoirs and it has remained so popular that it has never gone out of print. Historians then and now have made extensive use of Grant’s recollections, which have shaped how we understand and evaluate not only the Union army’s triumphs and failures, but many of the war’s key participants. The Memoirs of Ulysses Simpson Grant may be a superbly written book, Frank P. Varney persuasively argues in General Grant and the Rewriting of History, but is so riddled with flaws as to be unreliable.

July 15

Music in Grant's Time

All cultures use lyrics and music and the Grant Cottage story is well told by troubadour Tom Smith and storyteller Steve Trimm.  Tom and Steve (both tour guides at the Grant Cottage) will examine music of the 19th century and explain what music meant to those who lived in that time period (music with which Ulysses S. Grant would have been familiar).

July 19
Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City

Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in NYC tells the story of the involvement and interracial collaboration of Sidney Howard and Louis Napoleon in the Underground Railroad and its network in New York City.  Don Papson,  the founder of the North Star Underground Railroad Museum in Ausable Chasm, N.Y and Tom Colarco, the author of seven books about the underground railroad, provide detailed information about Howard and Napoleon and their activities 1855-1856. Don Papson will share information and stories included in their book.

July 25

 Remembrance Day
130 years ago, at age 63, Ulysses S. Grant finally bowed to the only enemy who could defeat him, cancer. It has become a tradition at Grant Cottage to mark this sad occasion by recreating the Grant family circle and allowing those who loved him most to speak about Grant the husband, father and grandfather. Re-enactors portraying General Grant's family and closest friends will gather on the Cottage porch to bid the man they adored a final, very personal farewell. The ceremony will include music and, while acknowledging sorrow, will be a true celebration of U.S. Grant's truly extraordinary life. 

July 31
Birth of a Nation
The historic Grant Cottage grounds will be the site of D.W. Griffith's film "Birth of a Nation"  This evening event that will begin at dusk and includes comments by filmographer John McCarty and sections of this 100 year old film.  The Board of Trustees of Grant Cottage has selected this film which portrays the racial violence President Grant fought.  Historians have commented that the Union won the war but not the peace. Coffee and discussion will follow the film.

August 2
Jared A. Jackson: U.S. Colored Troops

Born to a free farming family in Bethlehem, New York, Jared A. Jackson (1840-1888) enlisted at age 23 in the newly established "United States Colored Troops" and went on to serve as one of 200 black guards at the notorious Elmira Prison Camp. His experiences as a corporal in the 20th Regiment-U.S.C.T. is not only a story of military service toward the preservation of the Union, but also of the fight for the right of African-Americans to bear arms, to prove their courage and patriotism in the conflict to end slavery in America, and the post-war struggles of African-Americans facing social and institutional racism. Jackson is one of just two known African-American veterans of the Civil War who are buried in Schenectady's Vale Cemetery. The presenter is Neil Yetwin, musician, educator and author.

August 5
The Soldier who Gave his Life for Grant

Twenty years after the Civil War,  a soldier's fate was linked to Saratoga Springs.  As the 18th president's funeral train descended Mount McGregor and approached the city's Saratoga Battery H. . a misfired canon salute mortally wounded a 33 year old German immigrant and member of the 4th U.S. Artillery.  Private Timothy Allman who had been only 13 when the war ended, died tragically.  His service is remembered at Grant Cottage. 

August 8
Flags at Half Mast

The cottage flags at half mast commemorate the Funeral of Ulysses S. Grant in New York City on August 8, 1885.  Author and presidential scholar, David Pietrusza will speak and present President Coolidge's address given at the 1922 dedication of the Grant Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Coffee, cake and images of the New York City funeral procession will be provided on the historic porch following the program.  

August 12
Grant & the American Indian

President Grant did something revolutionary with respect to the American Indians. He decided to treat them like human beings. He saw that the reservations had become places of despair because corrupt Indian Agents were pocketing the money meant to feed and shelter the Indians. So Grant fired the Indian Agents and replaced them with men he knew were moral and incorruptible: Quakers.
Quakers did not believe in violence and war and had sent none of their sons into the Union army during the Civil War. Grant didn't share the Quakers' religious perspectives, but he did recognize the Quakers' rock-solid integrity. Learn about this improbable alliance between the warrior and the pacifists, how President Grant's Quaker Policy almost succeeded and why it didn't. And be ready to learn about a forgotten Native American hero, the Southern Arapaho peace chief Little Raven. The program will be presented by Grant Cottage tour guide Steve Trimm.  

August 16
Richest Nun in America
Katharine Drexel, daughter of Francis Drexel and niece of Joseph Drexel (owner of the Cottage at time Grant spent his final days there), was raised in a family of wealth but also a family who always tried to help others.  This led Katharine to seek help for many using her family wealth.  

Katharine chose to live a life of service to her religion by becoming a nun and developing a group known as the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.  Using money she inherited from her family, Katharine made it her life’s work to build and fund Schools and Community Centers throughout the United State for disadvantaged African-American and American Indian children.

Her efforts earned her Sainthood in the Catholic Church.  Saint Katharine is one of only three American-born Saints.

Dave Hubbard, Grant Cottage Site Manager, will make a presentation on Katharine Drexel.

August 19
Grant and His Saratoga Connections, 1865 to 1885

Ulysses S. Grant was America’s most famous horseman and soldier at the close of the Civil War in April 1865.  Acclaimed as the “Savior of the Union,” the four-star general made his first visit to Saratoga in July of that year.  He returned as the eighteenth U.S. president in 1869 and 1874 as Saratoga entered the Gilded Age as the “Queen of Spas.”  Grant visited again in 1882 following his world tour.  In March of 1885, the world learned of his loss of fortune, terminal illness and struggle to complete his memoirs.  The General’s final trip brought him to Mount McGregor in the summer of 1885.

The Saratoga people and places connected with Grant’s visits are brought to life through pictures and stories in this PowerPoint program presented by the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation in collaboration with the Friends of Grant Cottage.

Refreshments, including a Grant family pudding recipe, will be served following the program.

August 22-23
Art Show:  Local Artists Exhibit

Local artists are encouraged to display their artwork on the historic porch and grounds as part of a two day exhibition.  Some 130 years ago, the historic site was the location of a summer hotel, restaurant and art gallery.  The Balmoral Hotel provided meals for members of the Grant family who resided in a cottage close by.

The creation of an annual exhibition will return the historic vacationing  site to one of its original purposes while continuing to provide tours of three rooms occupied by Ulysses S. Grant.

August 30
Mark Twain

September 6
Women in John Brown's Family

The abolitionist activities of John Brown and some of his twenty children create the unusual story of women whose actions went far beyond the petitioning and pamphleteering of the era.

Grant Cottage volunteer, Diana O'Brien, will use music, Brown family images, and detailed information to describe the commitment and devotion of the Brown family to each other and the antislavery cause. The program is based upon the research of Bonnie Laughlin ­Schultz, author of The Tie That Bound Us, and includes Negro spirituals sung by a local tenor, and photographs from the Library of Congress.

September 12

Click image for larger view

September 19
Heading Home:  The Uneasy Peace

Soldiers' stories describe the events following the surrender at Appomattox.  The army of Northern Virginia and Union forces underwent  significant changes when peace was at hand. Four years of war had taken its toll.  Research by volunteer Pat Smith describes the soldiers' experiences, North and South. Images help us visualize Lee, Grant, Joshua Chamberlain and others heading home to peace.

October 11
Grant Cottage Encampment

An opportunity to meet the Union Generals & members of the 125th NY Regimental Association. More than 30 historic figures will be portrayed.