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the first home owned by Ulysses Grant

By 1854 Ulysses Grant had become despondent over his frequent long separations from his wife and children, and with the low pay offered by the Army. Resigning his commission, he moved his family to an 80-acre farm near St. Louis that had been given to he and Julia as a wedding gift (by his father-in-law). Determined to be a successful farmer, Grant, with assistance from slaves owned by his father-in-law, planted crops of potatoes and wheat, corded wood, harvested fruit from the orchards, and tended a vegetable garden. He also managed other lands owned by his father-in-law.

Establishing himself as a successful, independent farmer also included the construction of his own house, and, in the fall of 1855, he began cutting, hewing, and notching logs for a cabin. The next spring and summer, he set about digging a cellar and setting the stones for the foundation; neighbors and slaves then assisted in the house raising. Grant completed much of the work himself, shingling the roof, building the stairs, and laying the floors. The cabin was divided into four rooms, two upstairs and two downstairs, with a hall running between them on both floors. Julia did her best to decorate the place, but even her standards of refinement could not conceal its rustic nature.

Despite his best efforts, Grant never became the successful farmer he wanted to be. Low crop prices, poor health, and bad business practices kept the family from achieving anything close to financial security, leading Grant to dub his homestead "Hardscrabble." The Grants moved out of the cabin and into her parents' home in 1857, and the land upon which the cabin was built was sold in 1859.

the cabin Grant built, taken about 1891
the cabin Grant built, taken about 1891

After the Grants vacated Hardscrabble the building acquired a history of its own. Due to its association with the famous General and President, it was dismantled and moved three times, until it was finally located on the property of present day Grant’s Farm, which is owned and operated by Anheuser-Busch and adjacent to Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site.

Official Website

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

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The Robinson Library >> Ulysses S. Grant

This page was last updated on December 07, 2018.