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the Vincennes, Indiana, home of William Henry Harrison
In 1800, William Henry Harrison was appointed Governor of the newly created Indiana Territory, which included all of what would become the states of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as the northeastern part of Minnesota. Its capital was Vincennes, then little more than a frontier town, and it was there that Harrison bought 300 acres and had a house worthy of a Governor built.
Completed in 1804, the first brick house in the Indiana Territory was built by Samuel Thompson, a mason from Pennsylvania. Harrison based its design on Berkeley, the Virginia plantation on which he was born. The two-and-a-half-story, 17-room house was constructed using 400,000 handmade bricks, hand-forged nails, lumber sawn from virgin cypress, walnut, poplar, chestnut, and pine, and materials imported from England and the East. Total cost was estimated at $20,000. Harrison named it Grouseland for the many game birds on the property.
Grouseland quickly became the center of Vincennes' social and political life. Five of the Harrisons' ten children were born in the house, including John Scott, the father of President Benjamin Harrison. Tecumseh, the famous Shawnee leader, who was trying to recruit other tribes to join him in armed resistance, met with Harrison at Grouseland in 1810 and warned that his people would fight to prevent further white encroachment.
In 1811, Harrison left Grouseland and marched north to attack an Indian stronghold near Tippecanoe Creek. He left again to command forces in the Northwest during the War of 1812. After the war, he returned to Vincennes long enough to resign his commission and move his family back to land they owned at North Bend, Ohio.
Grouseland remained in Harrison family hands until the late 1840's, after which it began to deteriorate. It was saved from destruction by the Francis Vigo Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, which bought the property in 1909, restored the house, and opened it as a house museum. It is now maintained by the Grouseland Foundation, Inc., and its official website is www.grouselandfoundation.org/.
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This page was last updated on August 30, 2018.