S. Grant Home
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
- Grant and
his family arrived in Galena in the spring of 1860 and rented a small Federal style brick
house (seen at the right). He had ended a fifteen year military career six years earlier,
but had enjoyed little business success as a civilian. He hoped to reverse his economic
misfortune by moving to northwestern Illinois, where he would work in the Galena store
owned by his father and managed by his younger brothers, Simpson and Orvil. Grant was a
clerk in name only; he spent considerable time away from the store, "travelling
through the Northwest considerably during the winter of 1860-61. They had customers in all
the little towns in south-west Wisconsin, south-east Minnesota, and northeast. Iowa." Until he left Galena in the spring of 1861 to
serve in the Civil War, Grant and his wife, Julia, rented a modest brick home on the west
side of the river for approximately $100.00 a
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
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
1846-1847: Fought in the
August 22, 1848: Married Julia Dent of St.
May 30, 1850: Frederick Dent
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.,
Spring, 1860: Grant arrives in
April 18, 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 Norther 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
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
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
For more information about
Ulysses S. Grant try visiting our Books on Grant
The U.S. Grant Home is open daily from 9
a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed New Year's, Martin Luther King, Jr., Presidents, Veterans,
General Election, Thanksgiving, and Christmas day. Group reservations are recommended. Suggested
donation: $3 adults, $1 children. For additional information, write to:
- Galena State Hist. Sites
- P.O. Box 333
- Galena, IL. 61036
- (815) 777-3310
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