In Spite of Myself

In Spite of Myself

By Grant Cottage Operations Manager, Ben Kemp

From an early age, Ulysses Grant had an awareness of politics. His father, Jesse, was involved in political discussions and debates during Grant’s childhood, even running for office and serving as Mayor of both Georgetown and Bethel, Ohio. Due to this, Grant would have had a natural aversion to political matters because of what it entailed. Contentious debating, public speaking, and self-promotional campaigning were distasteful to his reserved character. The only thing that would eventually serve to overcome his apprehensions was an overwhelming sense of duty.

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day

DEAREST  JULIA

      I have just been delighted by a long and interesting letter from my Dear Julia and although I wrote you but two or three days ago I answer this with my usual punctuality.  You say you write me letter for letter well I am satisfied that my love is returned and you know how anxious one is to hear often from the one I love and it may appear to me that you do not write as often as you really do. Your letter was one of the sweetest you have ever written me and your answer to the question I have so often asked was so much like yourself, it was just what I wanted you to say; boldness indeed: no my Dear Julia that is a charge that can be never laid to you -- There is a part of your letter that is entirely incomprehensible to me.  I dont know whether you are jesting or if you are serious. I first loved Julia I have loved no one els […].

Hope & Healing on a Mountaintop

Hope & Healing on a Mountaintop

Many modern day visitors to Mount McGregor are surprised to see hulking stone buildings  when ascending the mountain road make their way to the U.S. Grant Cottage Historic Site. Their first question upon arrival at the visitor center is frequently, “What is that huge facility with the big buildings and high fences?” Although the Historic Site mainly interprets the end of Ulysses S. Grant’s life it also provides historical information about the mountain and its varied uses over the years. This helps the visitor understand the setting and the emotional, psychological and physically transformative power of that setting on the many who have visited and even called Mount McGregor their home over the years.

The Story of the Christmas Pickle

The Story of the Christmas Pickle

As Christmas approaches, my family looks forward to their annual opportunity to be hailed as “The Great Pickle Finder.” This American tradition of hanging a blown glass pickle ornament on the family Christmas tree became popular at the end of the nineteenth century and a favorite one in my family for generations. Originally imported from the Lauscha region of Germany (renowned for its blown glass), ornaments of glass in the shapes of fruits and vegetables found their way into many U.S. homes of the period. How the pickle specifically became a favorite, however, is a compelling story with a setting of Christmas in 1864. It has an additional intriguing element bringing the founder of this tradition into a shared experience with Grant Cottage’s first caretaker – one that would profoundly affect both men. The story begins at the infamous Confederate prison camp (Camp Sumter) at Andersonville, Georgia.

Someone Else than Myself to Live and Strive For

Someone Else than Myself to Live and Strive For

On the 170th anniversary of their wedding, Grant Cottage Site Coordinator Ben Kemp takes a look at the relationship of Ulysses and Julia Grant.

On the morning of July 23, 1885, Ulysses Grant was surrounded by his loving family as he took his final breaths. “Mrs. Grant still held the General’s hand…the General opened his eyes and glanced about him, looking into the faces of all. The glance lingered as it met the tender gaze of his companion.” (New York Times July 24, 1885)  Julia was now a widow.

All the Nation Mourned

All the Nation Mourned

Shortly after the ailing General Grant arrived on Mt. Mcgregor in the summer of 1885, he wrote his son Fred a note that was to prove both an understatement and a guide for his family in choosing his final resting place:

“It is possible my funeral may become one of public demonstration, in which event I have no particular choice of burial place; but there is one thing I would wish you and the family to insist upon and that is that wherever my tomb may be, a place shall be reserved for your mother.”