Grant Cottage Speakers Bureau

We can bring a variety of programs to your location.  Please email info@grantcottage.org or call  518-584-4353 if you are interested in a program by one of our distinguished speakers.   

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Dave Hubbard

"The Richest Nun in America" Presented by Site Manager Dave Hubbard
Katharine Drexel, daughter of Francis Drexel and niece of Joseph Drexel, 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. 

"The Arkell Family of Canajoharie" Presented by Site Manager Dave Hubbard
If you are familiar with the Grant Cottage Historic site on Mt. McGregor, then you know the name Arkell.  W.J. Arkell played an important role in the building and operation of Saratoga, Mt. McGregor, and Lake George Railroad, bringing visitors from Saratoga to the top of Mt. McGregor including former Civil War General and Hero and former President Ulysses S. Grant.  Arkell also was involved in the building of the Hotel Balmoral on top of the mountain. The name Arkell is synonymous with the village and town of Canajoharie, NY in the Mohawk Valley.  It started with W.J.’s father, James and continued with W.J. and his siblings. Discussed will be their participation in Business and the Arts in Canajoharie, to show that the Arkell name is synonymous with Canajoharie, NY.

"Secret Agents in Hoop Skirts:  Women Spies of the Civil War" Presented by Site Manager Dave Hubbard
Hundreds of women served as spies during the Civil War, just as they had in earlier conflicts like the American Revolution. Women served on both sides of the war.  Especially early in the war they went unnoticed as men did not think women would be involved in such a dangerous position. We will examine five different spies who served during the Civil War – three for the Union and two for the Confederacy.  

"And They Fought Too: Women Soldiers of the Civil War" Presented by Site Manager Dave Hubbard
Many women disguised themselves as men to have the opportunity to fight for their cause in the Civil War.

"Elmira, NY Civil War Prison:  Death Camp of the North" Presented by Site Manager Dave Hubbard
The story of the prison which was in existence for approximately one year in Elmira, NY

"Baseball and the Civil War" Presented by Site Manager Dave Hubbard
Baseball's development and value during the Civil War

"Life of a Public Building" Presented by Site Manager Dave Hubbard
History and Architecture of Mt. McGregor

"Virtual Tour of Grant Cottage" Presented by Site Manager Dave Hubbard
Pictures and dialogue on the Cottage replicating a tour (Power Point capability is needed for this program.)

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Ben Kemp

“A Veteran Speaks: Oscar Kemp of the 115th NY and the Grand Army” Presented by Ben Kemp
The Civil War is one of the most studied conflicts in American history, but much of the emphasis is on battles, leaders and soldiers during the four years of war. What happened to the survivors? What were their stories and how did they transition back into civilian life? Many of the veterans joined fraternal organizations for support, the largest being the Grand Army of the Republic. Join Civil War veteran Oscar Kemp (portrayed by descendant and Grant Cottage staff member Ben Kemp) as he recounts his war experiences with the 115th NY and then discusses the experience of veterans after the war and the Grand Army of the Republic.

The ‘Real’ Life of a Civil War Soldier” Presented by Ben Kemp
What was it really like to be a soldier in the Civil War? Soldiers certainly fought in battles, but they spent many more hours in camp or on the march. Come hear about the difficulties the troops faced and the camaraderie they developed as they went through their struggles together. Learn about the different ways the soldiers kept busy and amused themselves. Explore the similarities between their lives and the present day as you immerse yourself in their world.

“In his Father's Shadow: The Life and Career of Frederick Grant” Presented by Ben Kemp
Explore the lesser-known figure of Frederick Dent Grant, eldest son of Ulysses and Julia Grant. From a childhood on a southern plantation to a teenager in the middle of the Civil War to West Point graduate, foreign diplomat and Major General, learn about his illustrious life and career. Fred, like his father, encountered hardships and found himself in the midst of scandals and controversial wars, but displayed the same characteristic resolve to fulfill his duty through it all. When his father needed him in his final days, Fred faithfully and tirelessly served his father at Grant Cottage and was the pillar of strength for the family to rely on after his father’s passing.

“At my General’s Side to the End” Presented by Ben Kemp
In 1885, amidst the turmoil of famed Civil War General and US President Ulysses Grant’s final days on Mt. McGregor in Wilton, NY, there lies the story of a lesser-known figure. Sam Willett was a Civil War veteran who volunteered to stand by his old commander while he fought his final battle with throat cancer. Find out more about this faithful soldier and his selfless service to the Grant Family in their time of need.

"Ulysses S. Grant and the Irish" Presented by Ben Kemp
Explore Civil War General and U.S. President Ulysses Grant’s relationship with the Irish and his own Irish connections. Discover the history of the Irish in the Civil War, the Fenian movement and Grant's trip to Ireland in 1879.

“Mount McGregor Through the Years” Presented by Ben Kemp
Experience the storied history of Mount McGregor from the Colonial era to the present. Most famous for being the location where President U.S. Grant passed away, the mountain has also been home to early settlers, a large hotel, a tuberculosis sanitarium and a prison. Explore some of the personalities and events that shaped the mountains history.

 “Grant and the Press” Presented by Ben Kemp
One thing that has not changed since the 19th century is that fame inevitably brings with it media attention. Find out how the press of the 19th century treated Ulysses S. Grant as he rose to fame and how he responded to it.  Join speaker and Grant Cottage staff member Ben Kemp as we explore the press of Grant's time. We will also highlight the emergence of the political cartoon led by famous cartoonist Thomas Nast and its effect on Grant's political career. This program will feature displays of original Thomas Nast prints.

“General Grant & Mt. McGregor: A Story of Family Devotion” Presented by Ben Kemp
He’s known as the man who saved the Union and our 18th President, but what was Ulysses Grant really like? Explore lesser-known facts and stories that highlight the true nature of this mythical figure. Learn about his final year and how his time on an Upstate New York mountaintop truly illustrated his depth of character.

“U.S. Grant the Author” Presented by Ben Kemp
Civil War General, President of the United States, World Traveler what else did Ulysses S. Grant do during his illustrious career? How about authoring one of the best memoirs ever written. Explore the compelling circumstances and famous people involved with Grant’s short but important career as an author.

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Tom Smith

"Ulysses S. Grant:  His Life, His Work, His Death" Presented by Tour Guide Tom Smith
Covers the life of Grant beginning in 1822 and focuses on his later years:  his bankruptcy, writing of his memoirs, his disease, and finally his death and funeral services at Grant Cottage.

"Ulysses S. Grant" Presented by Tour Guide Steve Trimm

"Colonel Frederick Grant" Presented by Tour Guide Steve Trimm

"History of Grant Cottage" Presented by Tour Guide Steve Trimm

"Harrison Terrell" Presented by Tour Guide Steve Trimm
Grant’s African American Valet who remained within arm’s reach to provide care when physicians were not available to the ailing Civil War hero and former president.

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Steve Trimm

"Sam Willett" Presented by Tour Guide Steve Trimm  
Former Union soldier from Argyle, N.Y. who served as Grant’s bodyguard at the cottage in 1885.

"Oliver Clarke" Presented by Tour Guide Steve Trimm
The cottage’s first caretaker, Civil War veteran and POW at the infamous Anderonville.

"Suye Narita Gambino"  Presented by Tour Guide Steve Trimm
The cottage’s 2nd caretaker and a citizen of Japan. She was interned during WWII at Mt McGregor and obtained American citizenship after the war.

"Charles Wood" Presented by Tour Guide Steve Trimm
Troy businessman who sent Grant $1,500 upon hearing about his bankruptcy. Wood’s note to Grant read, “I owe you this for Appomattox.”

"Princess Cantacuzene"  Presented by Tour Guide Steve Trimm
Grant’s first grandchild, Julia, who married a Russian nobleman and published her recollections of her grandfather.

"Lt. Lawrence Van Alstyne" Presented by Tour Guide Steve Trimm
NY 128th Regiment and officer of the U.S.C.T.