Friday, August 4, 2017

River Towns: Point Pleasant, Ohio

The West Virginia town of Point Pleasant has its famous personage in the form of an extra-terrestrial: Mothman, a legend made even more famous by the Richard Gere movie, The Mothman Prophesies, in 2002. But did you know there is another Point Pleasant downriver on the Ohio?

The Ohio community of Point Pleasant was established in 1813, one of many river towns that sprang up after the invention of steamboats made travel into the frontier easier and a little safer. In 1817, a small cabin was built in the community that would become home to Point Pleasant's most famous resident.

Jesse Grant moved to the growing community in 1820 and found work at a local tannery. A year later he married Hannah Simpson Grant and the two set up housekeeping. They bought the cabin, which was located near the riverbank, for $2. The following year, on April 27, 1822, the couple welcomed their first son. To name the child, a drawing was held at a family gathering a few weeks later, and the name Ulysses was chosen. However, Jesse Grant wanted to honor his father-in-law Hiram Simpson, so the child was named Hiram Ulysses Grant.

One year later the family moved to Georgetown, Ohio. Jesse had saved enough money to establish his own tannery and the family moved into a small, comfortable brick house.When a younger man, Jesse became friends with John Brown, the famous abolitionist, who was staying with the same family where Jesse was apprenticing. This, and his own father's anti-slavery views, formed the basis of Jesse Grant's lifelong opposition to slavery, which he passed on to his oldest son. When he was old enough, Hiram Ulysses attended a school run by another well-known abolitionist who lived nearby, John Rankin.

Some scenes from the homeplace:

Grant only lived in Point Pleasant for one year, and likely had no memory of the place, but the homeplace was preserved, luckily. It was moved away from its original location at the mouth of Big Indian Creek to avoid flooding, and was restored and furnished with period furnishings. It is now open for tours, along with the Grant Memorial Chapel and other buildings on the site.

There is, of course, a ghost that is reported to inhabit the cabin, although it seems to be a fairly benign spirit in that it only turns the spinning wheel from time to time. Certain to disconcert visitors, but harmless, I'd say.

In researching for this post, I found the life of U.S. Grant's father almost more interesting than that of his famous son. He was the epitome of the self-made man, owning properties in several states by the time of his death. You can read more about Jesse Root Grant here.

As you may know, the name Ulysses S. Grant was an error on his application to West Point, which was submitted by Ohio Congressman Thomas Hamer. Grant just adopted the name, and the rest is history.

To read more about West Virginia's Point Pleasant and Mothman, check out my past blogs on these topics.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

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