Grant’s Birthplace in Pt. Pleasant, Ohio
Written by Ned Lodwick, US Grant Homestead Association
“Hiram Grant is Born”
Jesse Grant was a tanner in the little river town of Pt. Pleasant, Ohio, in Clermont County. He bought a tiny white house along Big Indian Creek and in June of 1821 married Hannah Simpson of Bantam. Jesse was opinionated, outspoken, and illiterate but he was very honest and a good businessman. Hannah was shy, quiet, well educated, and very religious. The young couple seemed to have little in common but the marriage worked and would last for years until Jesse’s death in the late 1800’s. Hannah would see the dream of most wives come true in her marriage. She would affect a change in her husband. No, he was always opinionated and outspoken. That probably got worse as he got older but he was eager to learn to read and write and Hannah would teach him.
The tanning business was an essential part of any frontier town in the early 1800’s and Jesse’s business thrived. Leather was needed for almost anything from shoes to clothes, from harnesses to hinges, from saddles to hats. The young couple was doing well and they were ready to start a family. Jesse and Hannah Grant’s first of six children was born on April 27, 1822. He weighed 10¾ pounds with reddish brown hair and a fair complexion. He was a strong baby and the pride of not only his parents but of the entire family.
Six weeks passed and the little boy still had no name. Many suggestions had been made but the young parents only got more confused as the number of names increased. Finally the suggestion was made to throw the favorite names into a hat and draw out the boy’s name. A romantic aunt favored Theodore. Hannah favored Albert, in honor of Albert Gallatin, a diplomat. Grandfather Simpson favored Hiram, a handsome biblical name. The drawing resulted in two names, Hiram and Ulysses. Ulysses was cast into the hat by Grandmother Simpson, who had been reading Homer’s “Iliad”. So the little boy was named Hiram Ulysses Grant but he usually was called Ulysses by his family. He wrote Hiram on his school papers and was addressed the same by his teachers. He was ‘Lys’ to almost everyone else.
Jesse was doing well in Pt. Pleasant but he saw a great opportunity in the new town of Georgetown. In 1819, Brown County was formed out of eastern Adams County and western Clermont County. Georgetown was slated to be the county seat, a log Courthouse was to be constructed in the town square. Jesse wanted to get in on the bottom floor of this new community. He purchased a lot along Town Creek and Main Cross Street, now Grant Avenue, for $50. His family moved to Georgetown in 1823 when ‘Lys’ was 11 months old. With his wife, son, and his life’s savings of $1,100 he drove up to a brick house on the town square. The Grants with the help of Dr. George Bailey and his wife unloaded the wagon that held all the young family owned. Jesse built the tannery first, then completed a portion of a brick house facing Water Street before winter and the family moved from the rental house. The main part of the house was an addition, built two years later facing Main Cross Street.
‘Lys’s Georgetown was hewn out of a mighty forest of trees. The great forests of giant oaks that covered the county would supply Jesse with the bark that with a lot of work would produce the tannic acid needed to process raw bloody skins into leather. The twenty or so buildings in Georgetown were unrefined, primitive, and elemental. The streets were dirt and what few sidewalks that were there were laid, without mortar, of flat creek stone. The village was nearly as crude as the farms that surrounded it. The town square that would be the site of the county courthouse was a shallow pond lined with willows where geese and ducks drifted. They shared the water with the hogs that roamed freely through the village who wallowed in the mucky water on hot days. There were no street lights of any type. The people numbered about five hundred and were hard working, sturdy, and except for a few professionals, not highly educated.
This was a town like hundreds or thousands in the Northwest Territory but the boy named Hiram was not like other boys. He was born to fulfill a destiny that would save a nation and leave a legacy of greatness.