Farewell General Grant: Stories of Love, Support, and Ambition (1884-1885)
On March 1, 1885, America and the world learned that internationally renowned Civil War General and former U.S. President, Ulysses S. Grant, was dying of throat cancer. Grant had been financially ruined in the 19th Century's most infamous Ponzi scheme in 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, 1907, the drama, tragedy and eventual triumph of 1884-1885 comes to life through a collection of Grant stories told in the person of Martha Josephine Kelsey Clarke, Grant Cottage caretaker, portrayed by Melissa Trombley-Prosch. Reenactors portraying Martha's niece, Christine Curtiss, and brother, (Joseph) Samuel Kelsey, will also participate in the program.
Refreshments using vintage recipes will be served.
Grant's Birthday at Delmonico's
Three years after General Grant's death, a movement was afoot to have his birthday declared a national holiday. On April 27, 1888, a roomful of Grant admirers gathered at the renowned Delmonico's Banquet House in New York City to promote the cause. Those admirers, including former Union and Confederate generals, spoke of their love and respect for Ulysses S. Grant. Transcripts of their speeches have survived and today's Porch Chat is taken directly from those transcripts. Today's talk will be presented by Grant Cottage tour guide Steve Trimm and by his brother, the well-known regional theater actor Tracy Trimm.
September 13, 7:00pm and September 14, 3:00pm
Sunset on Mount McGregor
Mark Twain and Ulysses S. Grant were friends. But when Tited the General at Grant Cottage, he came as an editor assisting an author. Twain was going to publish Grant's Memoirs and he wanted the book to be perfect. His visit in June, 1885, therefore, was a business trip. When Twain left, he did not realize that he would never see his friend alive again. " Sunset On Mount McGregor" brings Grant and Twain together one last time and gives them the opportunity to put into words thoughts and feelings they did not express in June, 1885. The greatest military man and the greatest writer of their age will look back on their eventful lives and distill the lessons learned from surviving their country's darkest, most tragic and, paradoxically, most inspirational era.
" Sunset On Mount McGregor " is an original, multi-media theater event. Its producer is John Quinn. Mark Twain is portrayed by acclaimed Twain impersonator Don Coons. General Grant is portrayed by Grant Cottage tour guide Steve Trimm.
The performance will include live music and song by the 77th. Regimental Balladeers. Tickets are $10.
Special note: There will be an evening walk to the Overlook as part of the performance. Those who feel may not be physically capable will have the opportunity to remain at the tent for a special presentation.
Unknown Museums of Upstate New York
Presented by: Chuck D'Imperio, Author
"Grant Cottage is one of the most poignant places I have ever visited." So wrote Chuck D'Imperio in his book Unknown Museums Of Upstate New York. The Cottage was the last of fifty pilgrimages the author made to museums and historic sites that deserve more public attention. From the Abolition Hall of Fame to the Kazoo Museum to the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum to the National Purple Heart Hall Of Honor, there are virtually unknown collections, archives and exhibits across upstate New York that appeal to everyone from the whimsically minded to the serious scholar and history buff. The Syracuse University Press published Mr. D'Imperio's unique travelogue in 2013. A well known radio personality based in Oneonta and a talented writer, Mr. D'Imperio is also a most entertaining speaker. If you're interested in day trips to unusual and intriguing places, don't miss Chuck's talk.
Let Us Have Peace
Music by: Magpie
"Let Us Have Peace." The phrase, carved above the entrance to his tomb, was the cry of General Grant's heart. Today, International Peace Day, is a highly appropriate time to remember the victorious soldier who truly hated war and, as President, never sent his countryman to war. Greg Artzner & Terry Leonino - the award-winning folk duo called Magpie - have been singing songs about freedom, justice, and peace for over forty years. They have supported the environmental, labor and Civil Rights movements through their music. But Greg and Terry are more than performers. They have studied history and have been inspired, not just by General Grant, but by many historical figures. History often shapes their music. They have, for example, produced an 11 song CD about John Brown - and 7 of the songs are original! On International Peace Day, join Magpie for what is going to be a very special concert.
Children's Porch Chat
Presented by: Scott Christianson, Author of Freeing Charles.
The film " Twelve Years A Slave " has brought Solomon Northup's improbable but true story to the attention of the world. Northup, a free black man living in Saratoga, was kidnapped, sold into slavery in 1841, and was not returned to his family until 1853. Northup wrote a book about his horrifying experiences and that book, fully as much as the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, turned thousands of previously indifferent Americans against the institution of slavery. But the movie tells only a part of Northup's story. Scott Christianson will tell the rest of the tale. Mr. Christianson is the author of Freeing Charles, a book that documents the incredible street battle that rescued runaway slave Charles Nalle from slave catchers in Troy, New York in 1860.
WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:
Oliver and Martha Clarke
Clarke. A Union veteran, he had served as a Sergeant in Company B,
94th. New York. Captured at the battle of Cold Harbor, he was imprisoned
at the infamous Andersonville. Oliver was Grant Cottage caretaker from
1890 to 1917. The second caretaker was his wife Martha Kelsey Clarke.
Martha, like Oliver, became an expert on the life and career of Ulysses
S. Grant. As well, she became an expert on the natural history of Mount
McGregor. She was caretaker from 1917 to 1941. Volunteers Steve Trimm
& Melissa Trombley-Prosch will bring this dedicated couple back to
life and welcome you to Grant Cottage's 124th year as an historic site.
Napoleon Smith, President Grant's Imaginary Friend
When President Grant opened the Centennial Exhibition in 1876, he shared the stage with dozens of Union veterans. One of the veterans was invisible. He was invisible because he was a figment in the rich imagination of W.J. Arkell. Arkell, a fabulously rich and eccentric businessman,
would one day bring the desperately ill Ulysses S. Grant to Grant
Cottage. But in 1876 Arkell was writing a novel, the lead character of
which is Gettysburg hero Napoleon Smith. Arkell's tale weaves together
historical fact and fiction. It's improbable, funny, passionate and
ultimately wonderful. W.J. Arkell himself will meet you on the Grant
Cottage porch where he will recount Napoleon Smith's adventures. Mr.
Arkell will be portrayed by Grant Cottage tour guide Steve Trimm.
Fathers and Families with the 77th Balladeers
Music, Picnic, Horseshoes
S. Grant valued the presence of his wife and family throughout his
career as General-in-Chief, President, and author. He successfully
completed his memoirs—a publication that would hopefully provide for his
family following his passing. He achieved
this goal in July of 1885 at the Cottage atop Mount McGregor. On
Father’s Day, we welcome fathers and their families to bring along a picnic
lunch to experience the very spot that the Civil War General and our
18th president accomplished such a remarkable task for his family.
Visitors may lunch upon the very porch where he sat or choose the shaded
picnic tables in the foreground of the Cottage. Period music performed
by the 77th Regimental Balladeers will complete the picture, bringing
visitors back to the summer of 1885. Horseshoes will be available for
play throughout the event.
Grant & Granger
Presenter: Bob Conner
Conner, former Schenectady Gazette reporter and Grant Cottage Site
Interpreter, will share his research completed for Grant and Granger.
Bob will speak on the Grant and Granger relationship, which was a
difficult one. He will touch upon Grant's difficult relationships with
some other generals, especially those like Granger who were in the Army
of the Cumberland: i.e. George Thomas and William Rosecrans. Both
sides will be fairly discussed to the illustrious one-time resident of
Grant Cottage (who is obviously a much more significant general and
historical figure than any of the others). Bob will also bring up the
parallels between Grant and Granger (who were the same age and had
similar backgrounds at West Point and in the Mexican War) as well as
their postwar careers, including Reconstruction and the Indian
frontier. Bob will conclude with a discussion about Grant Cottage, his
long connection with it, and what he hopes will be its successful
Sport, Activity, and the Presidency
Presenter: Dr. Lisa Pleban
presentation explores the role of sport and physical activity within
the American presidency. Of particular note will be the activities of
our 18th president, General Ulysses S. Grant. The image of a
physically-educated President of the United States has been used as a
powerful tool both in the political ring and in the building of our
nation’s character. Join Dr. Lisa A. Pleban, Associate Professor of
Physical Education at Castleton State College, in learning more about
this entertaining topic.
Good Ol' Songs
Music by Judy Rosebrook
Vocalist and guitar player, Judy Rosebrook brings cottage visitors into a listening and singing experience. The music will include songs we have sung and music that we recognize as Civil War pieces. Join us on our historic porch to kick off the upcoming Independence Weekend.
A True Renaissance Warrior
Wentworth Higginson funded John Brown's Harper's Ferry raid and later
commanded a regiment of freed slaves. Higginson, a true Renaissance
warrior, knew that both the pen and the sword can be mighty. Poet Emily
Dickinson was introduced and mentored by Higginson. Join him as he
reminisces about General Grant, John Brown, his command of the 1st.
South Carolina Volunteers - and brings his friend Emily Dickinson to the
stage to read some of her virtually unknown Civil War poems. Grant
Cottage tour guides Steve Trimm and Diana O'Brien will portray Thomas and Emily.
Presenter: Author Frank Varney
Author Frank Varney will discuss his book: General
Grant and the Rewriting of History: How the Destruction of General
William S. Rosecrans Influenced Our Understanding of the Civil War.
Author Frank Varney sheds new light on what really happened on some of
the Civil War’s most important battlefields. He does so by focusing much
of his work on Grant’s treatment of Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, a
capable army commander whose reputation Grant (and others working with
him) conspired to destroy.
Civil War News’ review of the book stated: “This superb book disproves
the notion that there’s nothing new to learn about the Civil War. Frank
Varney builds a convincing case that William Rosecrans has been treated
unfairly by historians and, perhaps more significantly, that Ulysses S.
Grant deliberately destroyed his reputation and the reputations of other
Civil War generals.”
Abolitionist's Son & Slave Owner's Daughter
You know Ulysses S. Grant the General and President. But did you know that Grant was also a romantic? The courtship and marriage of Ulysses S. Grant ( the abolitionist's son ) and Julia Boggs
Dent ( the slave owner's daughter ) is one of America's most endearing
love stories. It is also one of America's least known love stories.
Except at Grant Cottage, that is, where you can hear the heartwarming
tale from Ulysses and Julia themselves. Ulysses and Julia will be
portrayed by Grant Cottage volunteers Steve Trimm & Melissa
Grant Remembrance Day
129 years ago today, 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
View the invitation
Location: NYS Military Museum in Saratoga Springs
Grant's spy and Richmond socialite author Dr. Donald Wyman
July 26, 2014, 1 pm
Dr. Donald Wyman, a former Army and Central Intelligence Agency Officer, is the author of The Chosen Path;
based on the life of Elizabeth Van Lew, one of our nation's best spies.
During the Civil War, Elizabeth Van Lew left Richmond society to spy
for the Union Army and earn the title, Grant's spy.
Dr. Wyman will reveal many of the clandestine sources, methods and
the professional trade craft that Ms. Van Lew employed while
accomplishing her patriotic and dangerous mission as spymaster in the
Confederate capital .
Dr. Wyman will make his presentation at 1pm on Saturday, July 26, in the Public Room of the NYS Military Museum and answer questions following the program.
The program is a joint effort on behalf of the NYS Military Museum and Grant Cottage.
Vision of the Hotel Balmoral
Presenter: Stuart Stiles
Cottage used to share the summit of Mount McGregor with the Hotel
Balmoral. This three-story hotel was architecturally stunning, its
grounds extensive and beautiful.
The Balmoral's resort complex, which included an art gallery, nature
trails, three lakes and fabulous views of the Hudson Valley, was simply
elegant. As well, the hotel boasted something technologically magical
called electricity. And if that wasn't enough, the Balmoral had its own
railroad connecting it to Saratoga Springs, ten miles away. It was one
of the hotel's developers, Joseph Drexel, who brought General Grant to
Grant Cottage. Stuart Stiles, whose family has lived at the base of
Mount McGregor since 1773, has researched the Hotel Balmoral in depth
and is the expert on its birth, life and death. Join him for what is bound to be a unique and informative talk.
Flags at Half Staff
Re-enactors, Bagpiper & Vocalist
On August 8th., 1885, General Grant's
body was placed in a tomb in New York City's Riverside Park. 250,000
citizens had viewed his body while it lay in state in City Hall. The
funeral procession from City Hall to Riverside Park took six hours.
Former Confederate generals were among the honorary pall bearers. August
8th. was the day the nation formally paid its respects to the man who,
as soldier and President, helped make the country the United States
again. At Grant Cottage there will be music and song, and re-enactors
will tell us why and how Ulysses S. Grant became the great historical
figure that he did.
Portrayed by: Fred Jones
Terrell was the Grant family's butler and, during the General's
agonizing final year, did as much as the doctors to keep the hero of
Appomattox alive. Ulysses S. Grant and Harrison Terrell were more than
employer and employee. Frederick Jones who has portrayed Frederick
Douglas will tell the story of Harrison Terrell in the first person and
provide a riveting event.
The Significance of Music in the 19th Century
cultures use lyrics and music and the Grant Cottage story is well told
by troubador 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).
August 16 & 17
Art Exhibit: NY Nature
Artwork by: Wayne Trimm
McGregor once boasted an art gallery. Grant Cottage caretaker Martha
Clarke was an amateur artist. Professional artists painted images of
Grant Cottage and of the mountain itself. For years before and after
General Grant's stay there, ordinary citizens flocked to Mount McGregor
simply to enjoy its natural beauty.
commemorate Mount McGregor's art history and natural history, a
collection of wildlife paintings by Wayne Trimm will be displayed on the
Grant Cottage porch the weekend of August 16th. & 17th.
Mr. Trimm was trained in science and in
art. For 30 years he was art editor of New York's award-winning
Conservationist Magazine. His paintings of our region's birds, animals
and plants are not only scientifically accurate, they are things of
great beauty. August 16th. will be Mr. Trimm's 92nd. birthday. Meet and greet the artist ( and wish him a happy birthday! ) between 1 & 2PM on the 16th.
Fashion 'n Fair
Tea, Raffle, and Civil War Nurse Mary Livermore portrayed by Maxine Getty
For over two decades, Maxine Getty has researched women who participated in the Civil ar.
Her accurate portrayal of Mary Livermore (writer, nurse, and manager of
the Sanitary Commission in the western states) provides the story of
efforts to provide food, clothing, and medical supplies to soldiers in
the field. The women of the Sanitary Commission raised large sums of
money to support the war and were early examples of patriotic
consumerism. Prior to Mrs. Getty's presentation as Mary Livermore,
visitors may enjoy a glass of Julia Grant's punch and try on period
reproduction hats and paraphernalia. Reservations are recommended.
Program cost is $10.