Friday, April 6, 2012

Trip #11 Tennessee, Kentucky and more

Tennessee State Capital Building Nashville, TN. Site of President James K. Polk's gravesite.

Presidential Gravesites seen on this trip: #17 Andrew Johnson Greeneville, Tennessee 35 of 38

Presidential Gravesite revisits: #7 Andrew Jackson Nashville, Tennessee
                                             #11 James K. Polk Nashville, Tennessee

Vice Presidential Gravesite: Alben W. Barkley Paducah, Kentucky

   It has been a very fun and productive last few years for this hobby. In early 2009 I decided to start visiting the gravesites of the Presidents with the intention to see them all someday. In April 2009 I made my first trip of this quest by going down to Marion, Ohio to see President Harding. By the end of 2009 I would of collected 20 of them. In 2010 I collected another 9. 2011 brought another 5. That leaves just 4 more. After my unexpected trip to L.A. in October 2011 to see Nixon and Reagan (Which were clearly to 2 toughest to see), I began to see the light at the end of the tunnell. The 4 remaining wouldn't be to hard to complete with 2 seperate trips in 2012. This is the first of those trips.

After the sucess of last years March western trip, I wanted to do something simular. But I wanted it to incorperate Andrew Johnson sites in Greeneville, TN. I kicked around alot of ideas. There have been alot of sites that I have seen on the fly. That for one reason or the other I needed to cut the stop short. And I always hope to see these sites again someday to take it in properly. Andrew Jackson's Hermitage was one of these sites. And I figured that while I was going down to Tennessee to see Andrew Johnson sites. That I may as well stop by the Hermitage and take it in properly. As I talked with one of my friends in Nashville a lot of other possibilities in Nashville opened up. Eventually I decided to head towards St. Louis after our time in Nashville. My wife has for a long time wanted to see the St. Louis Arch. And there is also a bunch of stuff that I wanted to see in St. Louis as well. As it always does, trip time arrived before we knew it. And we were heading south towards my 35th Presidential Gravesite.

March 23, 2012  Andrew Johnson

I got home from work around 5pm on Thursday March 22. My wife had the day off and was doing last minute trip preparation that day. My parents were there to get the kids. So, Luckily I got to see the kids for a few minutes before Mom and Dad had to leave with them. Once they left I got cleaned up, changed and we were on the road by 5:17. We would drive all the way down to our hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee for the night. We made great time and arrived at our Knoxville hotel around 11pm.

We made it to Greeneville that morning to see Andrew Johnson sites over a half hour before they opened. This gave us a good chance to walk around Greeneville and get pictures of the outside of Andrew Johnsons houses. We first got pictures of the replica birthplace and his early home near the visitors center. I glaced at a map that they had on display and we started walking down the street towards the Johnson homestead house. As we walked down I little ways we came across Andrew Johnson's backyard. We crossed an old, rickity bridge and walked through the backyard up to the back of the Homestead house. We got some pictures and before long we started heading back towards the National Park Service visitors center. We walked into the visitors center at around 9:02 and asked when the first available tour of the Homestead house would be. The lady at the desk said "Around 1:30 this afternoon". Apparently around 100 3rd graders had the morning tours all booked up. So this was kind of a bummer. But we went ahead and looked around the visitors center museum which included Johnson's Tailor shop. We also did the self guided tours of the early Johnson home and the replica birthplace.

It was then off to the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery to see the Presidents gravesite. Johnson was buried on top of a steep hill. I wanted to park by the gate and walk up the hill but a park ranger had the parking spaces there blocked. So we drove up the steep hill and found parking up there. It was a nice, peacefull gravesite that Johnson himself picked. There were 2 layers of fences circling the Presidents grave. After my wife got a picture of me at the gravesite I started looking at the fences. They were pointy and looked like they might hurt. But I could reach over the outer fence and could push the gate of the inner fence open. So if I could find my way over the outer fence I could make it all the way into the Momunent. So I found a spot where the fence wasn't as high and climbed over. I then walked around and opened the gate to the inner fence and I was in. So I got some pictures right next to the Monument. I then hurried out before they realised the hounds.

Andrew Johnson gravesite. Andrew Johnson National Cemetery Greeneville, TN

March 23, 2012 Andrew Jackson revisit

We left Greeneville ahead of scheduel since I had planned on touring the Johnson Homestead house. But we now had a roughly 4 hour drive across Tennessee to get to the Hermitage, Home of Andrew Jackson. Our last visit to the Hermitage was rushed, hot and we had our 5 month old Khloe with us. This time was much nicer. The weather was nice and mild. And we had nothing else planned to do that day. We got our headsets that offer information on various sites around the property. Making everything there, other then the house, a self guided tour. We took the house tour, and visited the rose garden where Andrew and Rachel Jackson are buried. We then headed out back behind the main house that we didn't get to explore last time. We walked back into the woods and found a large open field were the slave quarters once stood. We also found the little cabin in which Andrew and Rachel Jackson lived in for 17 years before the bigger Hermitage home was built. All in all it was a nice relaxing day of site seeing.

Andrew Jackson's gravesite at The Hermitage. Nashville, TN

March 24, 2012  James K. Polk revisit

This ended up being a very productive day in Nashville. My friend Josh, who I met on a facebook Presidents sites group, picked us up at our hotel around 8am to show us around Nashville. We first stopped at Mt. Olivet Cemetery were we found the gravesite of John Bell, a Speaker of the House, who ran for President in 1860. We hit a few more graves there and were off to down town to see some Polk sites. We revisited Polk's gravesite on the lawn of the Tennessee State Capital Building. We then walked around and saw the site of Polk Place, President Polk's home which was torn down. Now a Best Western sits on the site. We also stopped by 2 chuches with Polk connections. One is where his funeral took place, and the other is where he was sworn in as Governor of Tennessee. We then headed to the Parntheon replica. After that we stopped by RCA Studio B, where Elvis Presley and many others recorded. We then hit a couple more cemeteries. City Cemetery was the site where President Polk was originally buried. We then hit Woodlawn Memorial Park where we had to pull up some internet pictures to find what we were looking for. My wife has a great eye for these things and she found the gravesite of Country star Porter Waggoner. We also found Johnny Paycheck, singer of "Take This Job and Shock It". In the mauseleum there we found the gravesite of Jerry Reed. We also were looking for the gravesite of Tammy Wynette in the mauseleum. Josh had been there before but we just couldn't find it. We found out later that we were right there. They had just changed her name on the wall marker. We got lunch at a very good hot dog place and hit a few more country stars. We made it back to the hotel by 1pm. That night we saw a show at the Grand Ole Opry from back stage. It was pretty amazing!

President Polk's gravesite on the lawn of the Tennesse State Capital Building. Nahville, TN

March 25, 2012 Vice President Alben W. Barkley

#35 Alben W. Barkley (1877-1956)
                                      Vice President under Harry S. Truman from 1949 - 1953
  I recently made a posting of Vice Presidential Gravesites that I have seen so far. I only saw one more (2 if you count Andrew Johnson, but we already covered him) on this trip. So I figured I would add him to this posting.

The trip would continue the next morning. We left Nashville around 7 am and hit 3 sites on the way from Nashville to St. Louis. We stopped at Jefferson Davis' birthplace, Ohio Governor Charles Anderson's gravesite, and Vice President Alben W. Barkley's gravesite.

Barkley was a Congressman, Senator and Senate Majority Leader before he was picked as Harry Truman's running mate in the election of 1948. The Truman Barkley ticket narrowly beat NY Governor Thomas Dewey. Truman decided to not run for re election in 1952. Barkley was a short lived Canidate for the Decmocratic Nomination that year. But he was 74, and considered to old by most. Adlai Stevenson would eventually get the Democratic Nomination but would be defeated by Eisenhower.

Historical marker outside of the cemtery

...more info on the back

Me at VP Barkley's gravesite in Mout Kenton Cemetery Paducah, KY

Barkley's headstone

After Barkley's gravesite we headed to St. Louis. We first stopped by 2 cemeteries. Bellefontaine and Calvary. At these places we found the graves of Explorer William Clark, The graves of both Anheser and Busch, beer makers, Frederick Dent (President Grant's father in law), Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, Dred Scott and Tennessee Williams. It was then time to go to our hotel in downtown St. Louis. Once we checked into our room and opened the window we were very excited to see that we had an excelent view of the Arch from our room. We walked down to the Arch and toured the museum underneath. Which was very cool. We strolled around downtown St. Louis abit before we retired to our room for the night.

The next day we went to see the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site in St. Louis. We started heading home and hit Vincennes, IN on the way. Vincennes was the capital of the Indiana Territory and William Henry Harrison served as Territorial Governor there. Also nearby is the site where a 21 year old Abraham Lincoln first crossed into Illinios when he moved with his family. We hit one final site before heading home. Ohio Governor Othniel Looker was buried in a town 20 miles or so from Vincennes north along the IL / IN border in Palestine, IL.

To complete my collection of Presidential Gravesites I only have 3 left. Which I will be able to see this June. Ulysses S. Grant in NYC, Grover Cleveland in Princeton, NJ and Theodore Roosevelt on Long Island.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

POTCS historical sites: Jefferson Davis

President of the Confederate States of America (POTCS) historical sites
Jefferson Davis sites that I have visited:

Jefferson Davis Birthplace Fairview, KY
First wives (Sarah Knox Taylor) birthplace
 marker Vincennes, IN

Inaugural site at Old Alabama State Capital Building Montgomery, AL

Home at First Confederate White House Montgomery, AL
Prison cell Ft. Monroe, VA
Gravesite in Hollywood Cemetery Richmond, VA

Enterance sign to Jefferson Davis birhplace Fairview, KY

Jefferson Davis Birthplace. Complete with a huge Washington Monument type memorial.

It's about 3/5 the size of the Washington Monument. But it seems bigger considering it is in the middle of Amish Country

A historical marker at the Davis birthplace. Oddly enough U. S. President Lincoln was also born in Kentucky. About 100 miles or so from his Confederate counterpart Davis.

This church sits at the corner of the Birthplace State Park property. And it is the exact location of the House in which Davis was born in.
I made a brief, early Sunday morning stop at Jefferson Davis' birthplace in late March 2012. We had just left Nashville and the birthplace was one of three sites we hit on the way to St. Louis. The Park wasn't open yet. So we got some pictures of the large memorial and were on our way before long. It was kind of strange driving there. We must of passed 10 Amish horse drawn carriages on the way to the Monument. Which honestly seemed very out of place. But it was cool to see, none the less.

This historical marker in Vincennes, IN makes mention that nearby was the birthplace of Sarah Knox Taylor Davis. She was the daughter of President Zachary Taylor. She married Jefferson Davis but she died just 3 months into the marriage.

                                                   Me at the Old Alabama Statehouse

Old Alabama State Capital Building Montgomery, Alabama. This was the first Capital of the Confederacy so this is where Jefferson Davis was sworn in as the First (and only) President of the Confederate States of America. 

This star marks the spot he was standing when he took the oath of office

                                         At the first White House of the Confederacy

Across the street from the old Capital is the First Confederate White House. Davis lived here until the capital was moved to Richmond, VA
Inside the First Confederate White House. They had a self guided tour. The next few pictures are of inside. 

Ft. Monroe, VA. site of Jefferson Davis' prison cell from 1865 - 1867

Outside of the prison area where Jefferson Davis was held

A painting on the wall showing Davis' prison time.

My daughter Khloe and I in Davis' prison cell in 2010
 In June 2010 we did a weeklong trip to Virginia, DC and some sites in Pennsylvania. I set aside one day to see some lighthouses along the Virginia coastline and hit the beach, for my wife. One of the lighthouses that we visited was on Ft. Monroe Island in Virginia. The lighthouse ended up being small and left much to be desired. But we found out that Ft. Monroe also happened to be the place that Jefferson Davis was held prisoner for the 2 years following the Civil War. What's more there was a museum where you could see the cell. Well I had to check this out. We did, however make it brief so that it would cut to much into my wives, lighthouse and beach day.

Base of Jefferson Davis' gravesite in Hollywood Cemetery Richmond, VA

Klo and I at Jefferson Davis' gravesite. June 2010

For people like me and some of my friends, who hunt down the final resting places of the Presidents, Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond is a very convienent place. You need to go there anyways to see the gravesites of Presidents Monroe and Tyler. You may as well see the gravesite of the Confederacy's only President while you are there.

Jefferson Davis was a Senator from Mississippi and Secretary of War under Franklin Pierce before the Southern states seceded from the union in 1860. They eventually formed the Confederate States of America and chose Davis as their 1st (and only as it would turn out) President. The American Civl War would last for 4 years until Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in April 1865 at Appromattox Court House, VA. I find the Civl War to be an interesting time. And the aftermath is kind of hard to grasp. In most countries Lee and Davis would of been tried for war crimes and / or just hung from the nearest tree. But Davis would spend 2 years at Ft. Monroe prison until he was cleared of any involvment in the Lincoln assassination. Lee was allowed to retire and lived in Lexington, VA where he died in 1870. Davis would pass away in 1889, at the old age of 81.