Sunday, October 30, 2011

Trip #5 Northern New York State and New England

United First Parish Church Quincy, Massachusetts Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams are buried in the basement.

Presidential Gravesites seen on this trip: #32 Franklin D. Roosevelt Hyde Park, New York 12 of 38
                                                      #8 Martin Van Buren Kinderhook, New York 13 of 38
                                                      #21 Chester A. Arthur Albany, New York 14 of 38
                                                      #2 John Adams Quincy, Massachusetts 15 of 38
                                                      #6 John Quincy Adams Quincy, Massachusetts 16 of 38
                                                      #14 Franklin Pierce Concord, New Hampshire 17 of 38
                                                      #30 Calvin Coolidge Plymouth Notch, Vermont 18 of 38
                                                      #13 Millard Fillmore Buffalo, New York 19 of 38

The brainstorming for this trip started back in May. After hitting 3 Presidents in 3 states in one day I started thinking of what could be accomplished in 3 or 4 days. I got the idea for this trip from Dave, who's trips are on this link, traveled from Detriot to New England and saw 7 of the President above. I started kicking around idea's for doing a simular trip. I ended up doing it alittle differently then Dave did. Plus I added FDR which he hadn't seen on his trip. My Mom, Dad and cousin came along on this trip with my wife, Khloe and I. I originally planned to do this trip over Labor Day weekend. But there was a work conflict with Dad so we did it the weekend after Labor Day and added the next Monday and Tuesday to the trip.

September 12, 2009 Franklin D. Roosevelt

We left home around 11 pm on the night of Friday September 11. We drove through the night with the idea of being at FDR's home when they opened. We made better time than expected and got there an hour before they opened. We found an older looking diner just down the road and got some breakfast. We made it back shortly after they opened. They were offering free house tour that day that we took advantage of. FDR's Hyde Park, NY home is kind of a one stop of most significant FDR sites. The house there was his life long home and he was born there. He is buried on the property and his Presidential Library is also there. We didn't take time to see the Library so I may try to return someday. The house tour was pretty interesting. He had a beautiful property along the Hudson River. After touring the home we headed for the garden where Franklin and Elenor Roosevelt are buried. FDR once said that he didn't want his tombstone any bigger than his desk. Which explaines the unique shape of his tombstone.

FDR's gravesite Hyde Park, New York

September 12, 2009 Martin Van Buren

We left Hyde Park and continued north along the Hudson River. Along the way we came to a roadside farmers market type place that had fresh apples and cider. With apple and cider to snack on we continued north to the small town of Kinderhook, New York, Martin Van Buren's hometown. We made a quick stop at the Van Buren birthplace historical marker before heading to his Lindenwald home. Lindenwald has been called the 'Monticello' of the north. It was the first house in America with indoor plumbing. We took the tour which we really enjoyed. I would definatly recommend it.

After the house we headed for Kinderhook Cemetery, the final resting place of Van Buren. It was pretty easy to find in that it was one of the tallest gravestones in the cemetery. We took a few pictures and then were on our way to the next stop, Chester Arthur in Albany.

Martin Van Buren's gravesite Kinderhook, New York

September 12, 2009 Chester A. Arthur

We left Kinderhook for our last site of the day. Chester Arthur's grave in Albany Rural Cemetery is only 30 minutes or so away from Kinderhook. We found the cemetery but it took awhile to find the gate. We eventually found Arthur's gravesite. It is definatly one of the most unique Presidential Gravesite. After a few pictures we where on our way to our hotel for the night over 3 hours away just south of Boston, Massachusetts.

Chester Arthur gravesite Albany, New York

September 13, 2009 John Adams
                                John Quincy Adams

We spent the night in Braintree, MA at a motel near the Boston subway system. Braintree is the last stop on the subway line that stops at Quincy. So we hit the subway around 8am and headed to Quincy. Quincy was the birthplace and hometown of both John and John Quincy Adams. The National Park Service controlls the 2 birthplace houses which stand side by side, and also 'Peacefield' which was John Adams retirement home. When John Adams died John Quincy Adams inherited the house. The National Park Service opened at 9. We had a little time to kill so we explored Hancock Cemetery. Hancock Cemetery is right across the street from the United First Parish Church in which both Adams and their wives are buried. Hancock Cemetery is the final resting place of many members of the Adams family as well as John Hancock's family. John Hancock himself though is buried in Boston. Which we saw later that day.

We were on the first Adams National Historic Site trolly of the day that took us to the birthplace houses and "Peacefield'. The 'Peacefield' tour remains one of my favorites. The National Park Ranger that gave the tour was very good and informative.

When we got back to the National Park station we headed over to United First Parish Church to take the tour and see the Adams gravesites. It was a nice tour which showed us the Adams family pew. We headed to the basement where we came across 4 big stone coffins, for lack of a better term. Having recently watch the HBO mini series 'John Adams' I was really enjoying the Adams sites. And visiting their final resting places was a great way to finish the Adams experience.

That afternoon we hoped back on the subway and headed into Boston. We walked the 'Freedom Trail' which had several big historical sites along the way including Granery Burial Ground where Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere are all buried, the site of the Boston Massacre, The Old North Church, and the USS Constituation. All in all a really great day of site seeing. We then headed back to our motel in Braintree for the night.

John Adams grave Quincy, MA

John Quincy Adams grave Quincy, MA

September 14, 2009 Franklin Pierce

We got an early start on the morning of Monday September 14th. I didn't know what to expect as far as Boston morning rush hour traffic. So we left the motel around 6 am figuring that should be early enought to avoid it. All went well as we headed north out of Boston for Concord, New Hampshire and Franklin Pierce. Once we got to Concord we stopped and got some breakfast. We then headed into town and found the 'Pierce Manse' Home of President Pierce. Of course they were closed that day so we took some pictures and were soon heading for Old North Cemetery to see Pierce's gravesite. It was a small town cemetery and the Pierce family gravesite wasn't hard to find.

Pierce left a sad legacy that I couldn't help but reflect on at his gravesite. Franklin and his wife Jane had lost all but one of their children by the time he was elected President. On the train ride to the Inaguration there was a train derailment and their last surviving child 'Benny' was decapitated right in front of them. Franklin went on to serve 4 miserable years as President. After his wife died he spent his remaining years drinking himself to death. Now it seemed that most of the residence of Concord didn't even know or care that there was a former President buried nearby. All very sad.

Franklin Pierce gravesite Concord, New Hampshire

September 14, 2009 Calvin Coolidge

From Concord we headed west into Vermont to see Calvin Coolidges home and grave. To this day the Coolidge site in Plymouth Notch, Vermont remains in my top 3 of all Presidential sites that I have visited. The small town seems unchanged since Coolidge lived there. His birthplace is there as well as is his boyhood home were he spent alot of time as an adult, and was Inagurated there also after Harding died. There is a cheese factory there that the Coolidges once owned, and it is still in use. But I guess that the main thing is that it is in the middle of the Vermont wilderness surrounded by beautiful scenery. This very unique spot was what made Calvin Coolidge the man he became. And it was great to experience it first hand.

Coolidge is buried in a small cemetery not far from his birthplace, along with 7 generations of his family. It is a simple respectable tombstone. And if you didn't know any better you could easily drive past the cemetery and never realise that there was a President buried there.

Calvin Coolidges gravestone Plymouth Notch, Vermont

September 15, 2009 Millard Fillmore

After Coolidges historical site we started heading west. It was a 6 to 7 hour drive to our hotel in Batavia, New York. After getting dinner along the way we finally arrived at our hotel around 10 that night.

In 3 days I had pushed my family pretty hard. So we slept in on this Tuesday morning and enjoyed the hotels continental breakfast. Around 9:45 am we started to drive the 30 minutes or so to Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York to see the final Presidential Gravesite of the trip, Millard Fillmore. We found Fillmore's gravesite easily enough. It was a simple pink obelisk. I spent a little time reflecting on Fillmore himself but more in thankfulness that the last 4 days had gone great. We left Forest Lawn and headed down the road away's and saw the Theodore Roosevelt Inagural site. I got directions to see the marker where William McKinley had been shot. But I could tell that my family was getting restless and they really wanted to see Niagara Falls. So we skippped the McKinley assassination site and headed for Niagara Falls. After a little time at the falls we started our 5 hour car ride home. It had been a great 4 days and I had started to think about all that I had seen that year as compared to previous years. So at the half way point in September I looked back on 2009 thinking that it had been a great year. Little did I know that one small adventure was to occure before the years end.

Millard Fillmore's gravesite Fores Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, New York

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Trip #4 Down to Texas and Back

Lincoln's headstone in Lincoln's Tomb Springfield, IL

Presidential Gravesites seen on this trip: #11 James K. Polk Nashville, Tennessee 8 of 38                        
#7 Andrew Jackson Nashville, Tennessee 9 of 38
#36 Lyndon B. Johnson Stonewall, Texas 10 of 38
#16 Abraham Lincoln Springfield, Illinios 11 of 38

June 20, 2009 James K. Polk

The trip that started all of this had finally come. We left home around midnight. My plan was to drive through the night and arrive at Andrew Jackson's Hermitage right when they open. This all worked out ok. We arrived at The Hermitage at 8:45 and they were to open at 9:00. As we sat waiting the last few minutes before they opened the security guard drove up behind us and started looking at us funny as he circled our van a couple times. He eventually stopped behind us. I got out to see if there was a problem. He said, "you know that we don't open until 9 right?" I said "Yeah". He said, " ok, you are welcomed to sit here, but I just wanted you to know." I said, "ok" thinking that it was strange. Then it occurred to me. The time change. Somehow in all of my planning I had never considered that Nashville is just on the other side into the Central Time Zone. Which meant that it was actually pushing 8:00 not 9. Which explains the security guards confusion. So I decided to go see the other President buried in Nashville, James K. Polk, while The Hermitage was still closed.

So we drove into the heart of Nashville and found the Tennessee State Capital Building pretty easy. Polk's Tomb is located on the State Capital lawn. But the problem was, where to park? We drove a couple blocks down the hill from the Capital and found a parking spot. We then proceded to walk the stroller up the hill over what seemed like a thousand steps. We got to the street next to the Capital Building and found more steps. We started to walk around the property hoping to find a ramp or something other than steps. I looked up the hill and saw it. Polk's Tomb was hard to miss after seeing pictures of it. It was just up the hill. I guess that I figured the quickest way between 2 points is a straight line. So I proceded to drag the stroller up the hill as my wife pushed. The hill proved to be steeper than expected and by the time we got up the hill my wife was a little peeved and not speaking to me. Polk's Tomb is a nice and respectable memorial to one of our greatest Presdents. He was originally buried at his house Polk Place. But when the house was torn down the Tomb was moved to the Capital. We found an easier way down the hill and we were on our way back to The Hermitage.

James K. Polk's Tomb Tennessee State Capital Building Nasville, Tennessee

June 20, 2009 Andrew Jackson

By the time we made it back to The Hermitage, they were very much open. There are a few sites that are absolute must sees for Presidential site enthusiast. Among them are Mt. Vernon and Monticello. The Hermitage is also one of them. It was a very hot day. We looked through all of their indoor exhibits and then headed outside to the house. We toured the house which was a great tour. We then went to the garden next to the house, where President and Mrs. Jackson are buried. We spent a little time there but it was getting very hot and Khloe was only 5 and a half months old. So we continued on our way down to Texas. I do plan to return to Nashville sometime just the wife and I to see The Hermitage more closely and explore other things.

Andrew Jackson's Tomb at The Hermitage

June 24, 2009 Lyndon B. Johnson

Fast forward a few days to Wednesday. I planned out the way down and the way back to Texas. I left the rest of the week open to whatever, except for Wednesday. Not knowing if I would ever make it back down to Texas, I was determined to go to the LBJ Ranch while I was down there. It would be a 4 hour drive from where we were staying in the Houston area to the LBJ Ranch. So I wanted to get an early start. I figured that we should leave around 5am so that we could be at the Ranch around 9. My wives 2 cousins decided to come along and they weren't happy about the early rise. Although one of them mentioned recently that looking back, they were glad that they got to see it. I hadn't planned on hitting Austin around rush hour that morning, which set us back alittle. We arrived in Johnson City, Texas around 10. LBJ spent part of his childhood here and there is one of his boyhood homes there to see. We looked around a bit but weren't allowed inside because they were moving furniture that day. I talked with the man at the visitors center and he gave us directions to the LBJ Ranch which was another 15 minutes or so down the road.  

Now to this day it remains one of my favorate sites. The experience of driving out to the Ranch with the scenery really sets the mood. I have heard to refered to as the 'LBJ experience' . And I definatly found it to be that. Whatever LBJ was, growing up in this area of Texas made him that way. And it is a great experience to see it first hand.

It was around 11 when we finally made it to the Ranch. We stopped at the visitors center and they gave us a cd to put in the car as a sort of self guided tour. Others were taking the bus though. We drove out of the visitors center and turned to drive along a river. We eventually came to the bridge that took us over to the main LBJ sites. In a very small stretch of road is LBJ's school house, his reconstructed birthplace, his grandparents home, the family cemetery where he is buried, and the main LBJ Ranch house. I got out to see the birthplace home. And then we headed over to the cemetery. You aren't allowed to step across the stone wall that surrounds the Johnson family cemetery. But you can see LBJ's tombstone very well from the outside. We continued on to the ranch house where just months before they started to let people in to tour. LBJ's widow Lady Bird Johnson lived until 2007. At that point the house was given to the National Park Service. 2008 was the 100th birthyear of LBJ. So around his 100th birthday they opened the house to the public. At the time only a few rooms where available to tour. But it was still pretty cool to be inside.

LBJ's Tombstone in the Johnson family cemetery at the LBJ Ranch Stonewall, Texas.

June 27th 2009 Abraham Lincoln

We started the trip back home from Texas on the late afternoon of Friday June 26th. We left around 4pm and arrived in Dallas around 8. We stopped by Dealey Plaza in Dallas. The site of John F. Kennedy's assassination. We continued on our way driving through the night and hoping to arrive in Springfield, IL in the morning. We arrived in Springfield around 10:30 am. We headed straight for Lincoln's Tomb. I would have to say that Lincoln's Tomb was one of my favorites. It's like a sort of mecca that all Americans should experience at least once.  Before we left Springfield we stopped by Lincoln's Home. There is so much Lincoln stuff to see in Springfield that it was ashame to see it as a drive by stop. I hope to someday go out there are spend a couple days to soak up all of the Lincoln sites. We then drove the last 6 hours or so home. It was a great trip. Once things settled down from it I started gathering information for my next big trip to come the following September.

Abraham Lincoln's Tomb Oak Ridge Cemetery Springfield, Illinois

Trip #3 Northeast Ohio

Marble statue of Garfield in his Tomb

Presidential Gravesites seen on this trip: #25 William McKinley Canton, Ohio 6 of 38
                                                            #20 James A. Garfield Cleveland, Ohio 7 of 38

In a matter of a few weeks I had seen 5 Presidential Gravesites. With my big trip down to Texas coming up in June, I wanted to get more of the easy ones out of the way. I had just 2 left to see in my home state of Ohio. On the Saturday after Memorial Day my wife was working. I gathered together all who wanted to go that day. My Mom, Cousin, Aunt and Khloe all went on the days trip.

May 30, 2009 William McKinley

Oddly enough the 2 Presidents that we saw on this day were both assassinated. So both were given very large tombs as memorials to them. The first we came to was William McKinley's Tomb in Canton, Ohio. I remember visiting once as a kid. We made a weekend of seeing the 2 Presidents Tombs as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is in Canton not far from McKinley's Tomb.

On the morning of May 30, 2009 we arrived around 9:30 am. The place was crowded with runners using the many steps for exercise. Of course when we climbed to the top of the steps and entered the monument we were the only ones interested to see what was inside. It made we wonder if all of the people running the steps ever took the time to pay their respects to the martyred President.

McKinley was a good President who led us through the Spanish American War. His administration is oftain overshadowed by Theodore Roosevelt. Who was McKinley's Vice President and assumed the Presidency upon McKinley's death. After we spent a little time at McKinley's Tomb we were on our way to Cleveland to see President Garfields Tomb.

On this particular trip I forgot my good camera and only took cell phone pictures. This caused me to want to return sometime to get better pictures. So in October 2009 I returned to McKinley's Tomb one Sunday afternoon with my wife and Khloe. It happened to be a beautiful day at the peak of fall foliage and so we took some family pictures which turned out really good. So far we repeated this trip 2 more times for the specific purpose of getting family pictures done in October 2010 and October 2011.

William McKinley's Tomb Canton, Ohio

May 30, 2009 James A. Garfield

It was around 11: 30 am when we arrived at Garfield's Tomb in Lake View Cemetery. The Tomb really is amazing. The architeture of the Tomb is very unique. We took our time walking around and through the Tomb. There is a 2nd story balcony that offers a good view of Lake Erie. President and Mrs. Garfield's caskets are on display in the basment.

Lake View Cemetery is also the final resting  place of Lawman Elliot Ness, John D. Rockefeller and Sec. of State John Hay.

After Garfields Tomb we headed to Garfields home 'Lawnfield'. The site of the first from porch campaign. We took the tour and I would definatly recomend it. There is also a little museum on the life of Garfield in the visitors center that I enjoyed. Garfield was a brilliant man and I think that history may of been different if he had survived. But he was assassinated in less then a year in office.

As I metioned before I forgot my camera, so in September 2010 I returned with my wife and Khloe. Along with Lake View Cemetery and Lawnfield we also visited Garfield's birthplace.

When we left Garfield's home in the evening of May 30th, 2009 I was already starting to get excited about the next trip which would be much bigger. Going down to Texas was just a few weeks away.

Me at Garfield's Tomb

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Trip #2 Tri State Presidential Tour

Inside William Henry Harrisons Tomb.

Presidential Gravesites seen on this trip: #9 William Henry Harrison   North Bend, Ohio 3 of 38
                                                            #12 Zachary Taylor   Louisville, Kentucky 4 of 38
                                                            #23 Benjamin Harrison   Indianapolis, Indiana 5 of 38

Since I started this I had been kicking around alot of trip options. I read on one particular website where a man who lived in Detroit made a weekend of visiting the graves of 3 midwestern Presidents. Using his trip as a template I figured that from where I live that I could do it in one day, if I got an early start.

May 16, 2009 William Henry Harrison

During the week following up to Saturday May 16 my wife decided to visit her sister in southern Ohio to help her with her upcoming wedding. She took Khloe with her. With nothing else to do that Saturday I rounded up an assortment of family members who were willing to go. So at 5 am that morning my Mom, Sister, Neice, Nephew, Cousin and Aunt all loaded up. We started to head for the Cincinatti area. We arrived in North Bend around 8 am, which is about 20 miles west of Cincinatti along the Ohio River. I had been there once before, and twice since this trip. I was just a kid when I saw it last. It is a very large Tomb for our first President to die in office. Harrison of course died just one month into office.

Mom had packed some cold meat sandwhiches and was making some for everyone. I remember walking down the road to a nearby cemetery in which many of W. H. Harrison children and other family are buried. Harrison sadly would outlive most of his 10 children who mostly died as young adults. So many of them where buried there before the Tomb was built.

W. H. Harrison's Tomb

May 16, 2009 Zachary Taylor

We left W. H. Harrisons Tomb for Louisville and Zachary Taylors Tomb. Along the way I remember stopping at a Kroger near North Bend for one reason or the other. It was around noon by the time we made it to Taylors grave in Louisville. Taylor is buried in a National Cemetery that bares his name, with the same military grave stones as you would see in Arlington National Cemetery. An interesting side note to Zachary Taylors gravesite is that his body was exumed in 1991.

In 1850, President Taylor took part in the ground breaking ceremony for the Washington Monument. It was a hot day and the President eat alot of cherries and drank milk and water. He came down with cholera and became the 2nd President to die in office. In 1991 historians convinced Taylors descendents to have an autopsy performed on Taylors body to see if he may have been poisoned. The test proved negative and the history booked didn't need to be changed.

Taylors Tomb is a respectable one. My nephew and neice enjoyed getting out and running up the hill of his old tomb. But they also took time to pose with their Uncle at Taylors Tomb. After Taylor's grave we explored Louisville a little bit. We visited Locust Grove, the home of George Rodgers Clark, Revolutionary War General. We also found the home of Zachary Taylor which is private property. So we took some pictures and where on our way to Indianapolis.

Zachary Taylors Tomb

May 16, 2009 Benjamin Harrison

We arrived in Indianapolis around 4, with only an hour before closing time. We went through some very bad areas of Indianapolis to get to Crown Hill Cemetery. The path to Benjamin Harrison's grave was easy to find. It is a simple marker that nearly any family may have. Before long we were on our way home. It was a great day. I went home to an empty house since my wife and Khloe were at my sister in laws helping with wedding stuff. I felt a strong sense of accomplishment and started to think that if I could accomplish so much in one day. What all could I see if I had 3 or 4 days. This brainstorming eventually became my New York New England trip that would happen the following September.

I did learn a lesson on this stop. I came to find out later that also buried at Crown Hill Cemetery were 3 Vice Presidents and bank robber John Dillinger. Ever since I always check before I go to a cemetery to see if there are any other gravesites of interest there.

Benjamin Harrisons gravesite

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trip #1 My General Area

Hayes Speigel Grove home

Presidential Gravesites seen on this trip: #29 Warren G. Harding Marion, Ohio  1 of 38
                                                            #19 Rutherford B. Hayes Fremont, Ohio 2 of 38

I have already gone through and made a write up on each President, and then showed pictures of my trips to the sites connected to them on each of their pages. And as I see more I will continue to update those pages. Now I am doing something a little differently. I want to share the trips that I have taken in my quest to visit all of the Presidents Gravesites, which as of now I have 4 left to see. I have visited many websites  on the subject and some do it differently. I like them all. But some of my favorites are the ones that share their experience by trip instead of by President. Since I have already gone by President, now I want to share by trip.

Now to start with I never actually took a single trip that incorperated the 2 Presidents above. One is north of me, and one is south. But I have visited both numerous times over the years. So I am grouping them together here for my convenience. But this is the only time that I will do this through the course of these trip post.

April 4, 2009 Warren G. Harding

Here is the series of events that inspired me to get my own collection of Presidential Gravesites. In January 2009 I became a Dad. My wife and I welcomed our little girl Khloe. It was a surreal experience. Not long after that we decided to make a trip down to Houston, Texas to see some of my wives family down there so that they could meet our little girl, who happend to be the first baby of a new generation in my wives family. Now at that point we didn't travel much. I hadn't been out of the Ohio, Michigan, Indiana area since a family trip to Disney in Florida back in December 2004. So I started thinking about stuff to see on the way down and back.

A life long interest in the Presidents, combined with a childhood interest in seeing their gravesites led me to start looking up what Presidential Gravesites that I could see on the way down. I discovered several websites of people with the same idea. Who knew that there would be others out there with this same interest. These sites inspired me start my own collection. Since I hadn't any pictures of me at the ones that I had already seen I decided to start at square one and revist all of the ones that I had already seen before.

So I started with the easy ones. I decided that the first chance I get to drive the 40 minutes down to Marion to see President Harding I would take. On Saturday April 4, 2009 I spent most of the day running a PVC drain for my sisters kitchen sink. I finished up early afternoon. My wife was working and Khloe was 3 months old. I ended up rounding up my 3 nephews and my oldest neice and took them down to Marion for some Donatos Pizza and show them some Harding sites. All the while my sister watch Khloe.

We got down there in there saw Hardings Home, site of the last front porch campaign. We then saw Hardings temporary tomb in Marion Cemetery, and finally the Hardings Tomb. Their reward for humoring their Uncle was of course some Donatos pizza.

Harding Tomb

May 25, 2009 Rutherford B. Hayes

The obvious choice for No. 2 in my collection was Hayes. I knew that it was a matter of time before we would make it up that way. On June 27, 2003 I purposed to my wife at Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie. Ever since that has become a special get away for my wife and I. And of course President Hayes Speigel Grove home in Fremont is right on the way up to Marblehead. On Memorial Day, 2009 my wife wanted to head up to Marblehead to get some family pictures taken. My cousin who enjoys photography in his spare time went with us to take the pictures. On the way back from the lake we stopped at the Hayes Center. This is a site I always enjoy stopping at. Like a park, it's great for a walk.

Hayes gravesite.