On August 18, 1865, Galena celebrated the return of its Civil War hero General Ulysses S. Grant. Following a jubilant procession with much flag waving and speeches, a group of Galena citizens presented the General with a handsome furnished house on Bouthillier Street. The house is managed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency as the U.S. Grant Home State Historic Site.
Grant in Galena
The Hero's Homecoming
In 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil War, Grant left Galena to join the U.S. Army, ending a seven-year hiatus from the military. He was commissioned colonel of the 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment and was promoted to progressively significant commands of Union forces. A strong and capable leader, Grant engineered the Union victory at Vicksburg in 1863, which helped turn the tide of the war. In March 1864 Grant was appointed lieutenant general and commanded the Union army to war's end. On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his troops to Grant at Appomattox Court House, and Grant's image as a war hero was complete.
Grant family, ca.1865
On August 18, 1865, the citizens of Galena greeted the return of its victorious General with a grand celebration. A "grand triumphal arch" spanned Main Street, and a holiday atmosphere prevailed with a jubilant procession, speeches, and evening fireworks. Julia Grant recalled that "there was a tremendous and enthusiastic outpouring of people to welcome him . . . After a glorious triumphal ride around the hills and valleys, so brilliant with smiles and flowers, we were conducted to a lovely villa exquisitely furnished with everything good taste could desire."
The Grant Home
The brick house, which was designed by William Dennison, had been constructed in 1860 for former City Clerk Alexander J. Jackson. Thomas B. Hughlett, on behalf of only a small group of local Republicans, purchased the house for $2,500 in June 1865 and presented it to Grant two months later. The house is typical of the Italianate style, which is characterized by well defined rectilinear shapes, projecting eaves supported by brackets, low pitched roof, and balustraded balconies over covered porches.
Following his election as president in 1868 he visited only occasionally. In 1873 Grant commented that "although it is probable I will never live much time among you, but in the future be only a visitor as I am at present, . . . I hope to retain my residence here . . . I expect to cast my vote here always." The house was maintained by caretakers in anticipation of the President's visits, the local newspaper reporting that it was "in excellent order and ready for occupation at any time," adding that "visitors are always admitted."
Grant made his final visits to his Galena home in 1880. At that time he found that several changes had been made - "a new sidewalk laid in front of the premises, the outbuildings repaired, the trees handsomely trimmed, a new and commodious wash house built and other improvements made."
State Acquisition and Restoration
In 1904 Grant's children gave the house to the City of Galena "with the understanding that this property is to be kept as a memorial to the late General Ulysses S. Grant, and for no other purpose." However, maintaining the Grant's home proved too costly for the city and the Grant Home Association, so in 1931 the city deeded the house to the State of Illinois
A thorough restoration project was undertaken in 1955. Considerable research was undertaken as the house was returned to its 1868 appearance. Fortunately, much of the furniture used by Grant and his family remained in the house. Restoration of the home was returned to its appearance as pictured in the November 14, 1868, issue of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.
Ulysses S. Grant Chronology
April 27, 1822: Hiram Ulysses Grant born at Point Pleasant, Ohio and was the son of Jesse and Hannah Grant. Ulysses was the oldest of six children having three sisters and two brothers.
May 29, 1839: Arrived at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. A mistake in the records changed Grant's name to Ulysses S. Grant, which he carried the rest of his life.
June, 1843: Graduated from West Point.
1846-1847: Fought in the American-Mexican War.
August 22, 1848: Married Julia Dent of St. Louis, Missouri.
May 30, 1850: Frederick Dent Grant born.
July 22, 1852: Ulysses S. "Buck" Grant Jr., born.
June 11, 1854: Grant resigns from the army. The letter of resignation was written on the same day he was promoted to Captain and was accepted by the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis.
July 4, 1855: Ellen "Nellie" Wrenshall Grant born.
February 6, 1858: Jesse Root Grant Jr., born.
Spring, 1860: Grant arrives in Galena, Illinois.
April 12, 1861: Fort Sumter fired upon by Confederates.
June 17, 1861: Grant becomes a colonel for the 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
February 17, 1862: Lincoln signed the papers for Grant's promotion to major general of volunteers.
April 9, 1865: General Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, ending the American Civil War.
August 18, 1865: Returns to Galena as a hero and is presented his new home on Bouthillier Street.
July 25, 1866: Grant appointed general of the armies of the U.S.
August 12, 1867: Appointed Secretary of War.
November 3, 1868: Grant and Schuyler Colfax elected President and Vice-President.
March 2, 1872: Signs a bill which make Yellowstone the first National Park.
November 3, 1872: Grant and Henry Wilson elected President and Vice-President.
March 4, 1877: Retires from the White House.
May 1877: Ulysses, Julia and Jesse Grant travel on a world tour. They return on September 20, 1879 at San Francisco. They return to Galena in November of that year.
December 1882: President Arthur appointed Grant to negotiate a commercial treaty with Mexico. The treaty, however, was rejected by the U.S. and Mexico.
June 16, 1885: Grant family moves to a cottage at Mount McGregor, New York.
July 19, 1885: Finishes his personal memoirs.
July 23, 1885: Ulysses Grant dies at age 63 of throat cancer at Mt. McGregor, New York.
April 27, 1891: Ground is broken for the construction of Grant's Tomb, Riverside Park, New York City.
April 27, 1897: Grant's Tomb is dedicated.
For more information about Ulysses S. Grant try visiting our Books on Grant section.
For more information and rare photos of Ulysses S. Grant please visit...www.mscomm.com/~ulysses/
Open Wednesday through Sunday 9:00 a.m. - 4:45p.m. Closed Mondays & Tuesdays. The home is closed New Year's, Martin Luther King, Jr., Presidents, Veterans, General Election, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Days. Large group reservations are recommended. Suggested donation: $5 adults, $3 children. The Grant Home is located at 500 Bouthillier Street.
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