Thursday, January 11, 2018

2017: Year in Review

   Time for my year in review post, 2017. In early 2017 I started to get back into a side hobby that I started a few years ago, visiting the gravesites of every Governor of Ohio. I actually have another blog that goes into detail on this - . This renewed quest caused me to revisit some of Ohio's finest cities. Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, ect..

While hunting for Governor's in Cleveland we revisited President Garfield's house

Gravesite of Governor, Senator George Voinovich, who just passed away in 2016

Whereas Voinovich was the most recent Ohio Governor to pass away, Samuel Huntington was Ohio's 3rd Governor and 1st Governor to meet his maker.

In April, my family headed down to southern Ohio to visit the Great Serpent Mound. I've heard of this my whole life and finally made it. It is a mystery as to what Ancient Native American culture built it.

This map shows what the mound looks like from above and the Solar and Lunar alignments that it aligns with.

In late April, I took my kids down to Grant Days in Pt. Pleasant, Ohio. It was a birthday celebration for President Grant at his birthplace. While in the Cincinnati area I met up with fellow Presidential history enthusiast Tom Babbage, while he was visiting from Arizona. I met Tom on a Presidents sites facebook group a few years ago and it was great to finally meet him in person.

Gravesite of Ohio Governor James Rhodes in Columbus. He is the longest serving Ohio Governor with 16 years under his belt. He is also in the top 5 of longest serving Governors in US history.

On my birthday weekend in June, I got to do another more local thing that I have been meaning to do for awhile - tour the Ohio State Reformatory. Most notably, this is the primary filming location of the Shawshank Redemption.

Inside the prison we found the Brooks and Reds boarding room when each was paroled.

In late June, we got to meet briefly with my friend Roger Johnson, who was on his 50 states in 7 days trip. He wanted to meet up with someone in each state and do a short interview. This is the 3rd time that I have met with Roger over the years. He has a great website in which he documents his travels -

   Here begins the bulk of my historical site visits for the year. In late July I began a 10 day long trip through New York and New England. I really enjoyed this trip. It was more laid back. Most of my trips have us on a time crunch, many things we need to see by a certain time. In contrast, I had a lot of stuff that I wanted to see on this trip, but a lot of the stops were not "must sees". And so we mostly took our time to enjoy the stuff that we did see.

   We left on the trip on the evening of July 27. My parents came along with my family of 5. We drove through the night and stopped in Sleepy Hollow, NY for breakfast.

On the way from breakfast to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery we passed a sign that we had to turn around to check out. It became the first of many sites connected to the story of George Washington's spies that we would visit on this trip. I've read the book Washington's Secret 6 by Brian Kilmeade and I also really enjoyed the TV show "Turn: Washington's Spies". Both are about the Culper spy ring during the revolution. British Major John Andre was captured here. He was helping Benedict Arnold in his attempt to hand over West Point to the British. Andre's capture helped reveal their plot.

Gravesite of Andrew Carnegie in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

In Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, this is as close as I could get to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller's gravesite, which is in the Rockefeller family cemetery on the other side of the fence.

My Dad, kids and I at the graveiste of Babe Ruth. This is in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, NY

In the same cemetery as Babe Ruth is buried movie star James Cagney

Signer of the Declaration of Independence Abraham Clark in Rahway, NJ

President Grover Cleveland's gravesite in Princeton, NJ

After our 1st day of mostly gravehunting, we started our 2nd day by going to Long Island. First stop above is the Frank Reagan house from the TV show "Blue Bloods" in Brooklyn

Next stop was the very large Green Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Here is the grave of New York Governor DeWitt Clinton. He also ran for President against James Madison in 1812.

Grave of Horace Greely. This newspaper man ran against Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 and coined the term "Go west young man". He died a couple of weeks after his Presidential election defeat.

At the gravesite of Theodore Roosevelt's first wife Alice and his parents.

My Dad and kids bringing a little bit of Ohio to New York.

After Brooklyn we headed to Queens very large All Faiths Cemetery to find the final resting place of President Trump's family - his parents, grand parents and brother. This was difficult to find information on. When I called the cemetery they wouldn't tell me. I found a number on his brothers find a grave page that didn't make sense until I got there. I read an article where a NYC reporter went looking for the gravesite and she was shut down by the cemetery workers when she told them what she was looking for. So I decided to ask directions to a random other grave that I knew was in the same general area. This narrowed down the search some, but we still looked for about 2 hours before we found it. After all that time it felt like a pretty big win once it was found. 

While in Queens we hit a few more Trump sites. Here is his birthplace hospital

Trump boyhood home

Another Trump boyhood home.

Next stop was Setauket, home base of the Culper Spy Ring

Gravesite of Culper Spy Ring member Abraham Woodhull

Gravesite of Culper Spy Ring member Anna Strong

Lighthouse in Setauket that overlooked Long Island sound, where Culper Spy Ring member Caleb Brewster would row his boat across to Wahington's Army in Connecticut, avoiding British patrols

At Fire Island Lighthouse, on Fire Island, which is along the southern side of Long Island

Day 3 started at Theodore Roosevelts house Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay. When I first visited Sagamore Hill 5 years ago the house was closed for renovations

My kids hanging out of TR's porch

In the TR museum at Sagamore Hill

At TR's grave

Inside the church in which TR's funeral was held

Gravesite of Culper Spy Ring member Robert Townsend in Oyster Bay. This cemetery was surrounded by houses on both sides. It took awhile to find.

Boyhood home of George HW Bush in Greenwich, CT

Gravesite of Prescott and Dorthy Walker Bush. Parents to Bush 41

Gravesite of Culper Ring member Caleb Brewster in CT.

On day 4 I made a last minute stop at the Lizzy Borden house on the way to Thomas Land. My family was unimpressed and so a girl I just met who had just spent the night there took my picture for me.

Meeting Thomas the Train

They also had a Dinosaur exhibit.

Sir Topanhat with Gordon, James, Emily and Percy. My boys have been wanting to come here for years.

After Thomas land we made some stops in Plymouth. Here are the kids at Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradfords grave.

I woke up before the rest of my family on Day 5. A day or 2 before I saw on facebook where a friend of mine, Louis Picone  (Author of President history books "Where the Presidents were Born" and "The President is Dead") had visited the site of Grover Cleveland's Cape Cod Presidential retreat "Gray Gables". I had never heard of this place, but when I contacted Louis and found out the location, I saw that it was about 4 miles from my hotel that I would be staying at for a couple of nights. So as my family slept, I snuck away to visit another unexpected Presidential site. Above is the site of the Gray Gables train station built for Cleveland.

Above is the site of President Cleveland's "Gray Gables". The original house is gone.

After my family woke up we headed out on Cape Cod to see Lighthouses for my wife. But first I had to make a stop in Hyannisport to see if I could see any of the Kennedy's houses. Above is the Hyannisport home of President Kennedy. Ted Kennedy Jr. owns it now. I was surprised that the gate was open.

I parked nearby and took a walk on the beach with my 2 oldest kids. From there we got a look at the main Kennedy Compound house, it is my understanding that the house now belongs to a non profit and hopefully will be available for tours sometime soon. This place was sacred to President Kennedy through most of his life. It was cool to see my kids play on the beach where he must of walked hundreds of times.

Chatham Lighthouse

Near Chatham Lighthouse is this information marker saying that the Mayflower passed by here.

3 Sisters Lighthouses

Nauset Lighthouse. As seen on Cape Cod potato chips bags.

We headed to the end of Cape Cod with plans to see Race Point Lighthouse. We found out when we got there that we would have to walk 2 miles along the beach one way to see it. Instead we hung out at the beach there for awhile.

Day 6 we got to Quincy, MA early to be on the first tour of the day at Adams National Historic Site. Above is John Adams birthplace

John Quincy Adams birthplace

Sitting on the porch at John Adams "Peacefield" home. The park ranger did a great tour and was trilled to be in my picture I'm sure.

In front of John Adams "Peacefield" with my parents and kids

At the tomb of John Quincy Adams

Tomb of John Adams

   After Adams sites we headed to New Hampshire to visit with our long time family friends Dave and Debbie. Debbie's Dad and my Grandpa went to high school together. So our families have a long history together. They have a beautiful little property in the Granite hills of New Hampshire. The kids and I swam in their pool for awhile then we had a nice dinner and evening of visiting. It was a nice break from the road. The next morning (Day 7) we headed out to see some lighthouses along the NH and Maine coast for my wife. But first we hit the graves of  3 Signers of the Declaration of Independence along the way to the coast.

Gravesite of Signer Matthew Thornton

Gravesite of Signer Josiah Bartlett

Gravesite of Signer William Whipple

My Mom and kids at Portsmouth Harbour Lighthouse in Portsmouth, NH

My wife and I at Portlandhead lighthouse

After Portland Head we started heading back towards NH. Along the way we stopped in Kennebunkport. Above is St. Anne's Episcopal church. The Bush family attend services here when they are at their Kennebunkport home. Bush 41 has sky dived 3 times in recent years. On his 80th, 85th, and 90th birthdays. Each time the property here at St. Anne's is where he landed.

St. Anne's have a beautiful outdoor santuary to.

Bush family compound at Walker's Point.

The whole lot of us with our friend Dave at Nubble Lighthouse. I got a little to close to the water a few minutes before.

Dave took us to a great ice cream place near Nubble Lighthouse. I got Main Woopie pie ice cream. It was amazing and since I can't find anything like it in Ohio, I may need to return to Maine sometime just for that.

     On the morning of Day 8, we said our goodbye's to Dave and Debbie and started to head eastward in the direction of home. First stop was in Concord, NH at the gravesite of President Franklin Pierce

My kids and I at the grave of Franklin Pierce

Next stop was one of my top 5 Presidential sites, Calvin Coolidges Plymouth, VT home

Enjoying President Coolidges favorite drink Moxie.

Calvin Coolidge was born in the back of this little shop.

Grave of Calvin Coolidge

      After we left Plymouth, VT, we had a long haul to our hotel in Rochester, NY. The next morning  (Day 9) we headed towards Buffalo, but first stopped in Medina, NY to see the childhood home of First Lady Francis Folsom Cleveland. While in Medina I noticed a section of the Erie Canal ran through town. I had never seen any of the Erie Canal before so this was a pleasant surprise.

My kids at the Erie Canal

Another cool thing we noticed was a natural river running underneath the Erie Canal.

Childhood home of Francis Folsom Cleveland

In downtown Buffalo I found the death site of Millard Fillmore

My parents, kids and I at President Fillmore's gravesite

Added bonus in the same cemetery at Fillmore is "Superfreak" singer Rick James

At Niagara Falls

     Last stop of the trip was "Grover's" in Buffalo. I had heard that this was the site of Grover Cleveland's hunting cabin. Although this proved to be untrue, I did get one of the best burger's of my life there. And so ends a great trip. We made it home later that night.

     The next week we started Soccer, where for the first time I was head coach to my son Nick's team. The following months were very busy as my kids were in soccer and scouts and my wife was working full time and going to school full time. After soccer ended things settled down some.

At the end of October my sister in law got married and so it became one of those rare occations in which we all got dressed to our best. My wife was Matron of Honor, my daughter was flower girl and my boys were Ring Bearers. And it became the first time that I would officiate a wedding.

 As Thanksgiving approached I noticed that I would have the day before Thanksgiving off, and that the VP Museum in Huntington, IN would be open. I have long wanted to go to this museum. But they are only open on week days, and I, like most, work on week days. So I seized the opportunity and made a day trip with my kids.

At the gravesite of Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman in Fort Wayne

Outside of the VP Museum in Huntington, Indian

Huntington is the hometown of Bush 41's VP Dan Quayle. So his display is much bigger then the others

After the museum we ate at Quayle's favorite hometown diner "Nick's Kitchen" and I got his favorite meal from there the Pork Tenderloin

The courthouse in Huntington was the site of the first campaign event of the 1988 successful Presidential campaign of the Bush Quayle ticket.

Dan Quayle's boyhood home

     And so that is it for the year 2017. As of now I am not sure if we will be able to do anything to big for a summer vacation in 2018. But little trips here and there will be nice.