Sunday, October 27, 2013

Vice Presidents 3

    Since finishing my primary goal of visiting the gravesites of all the Presidents, I've been busy. Not long after that trip my wife and I found out that our 3rd baby was on the way. Baby Grant was born in January 2013. After the dust settled I started thinking about when we could pull off another trip. Adjusting to life with 3 kids 4 and under was hecktick. We decided that by September, we would probably be ready for a trip, just the 2 of us. But where? At this point I had a bunch of trip ideas. Now, my main focus is Vice President gravesites and Presidents birthplaces. And there are still a bunch on each of those lists to see. The next factor was convincing my wife. Ever since we visited Vermont in September 2009, My wife has wanted to return during fall foliage, to see the changing of the tree colors. Also the thought of hitting some lighthouses in Maine helped. So I started to plan a trip to New England and upstate New York.
    An unexpected chance came along and we ended up doing a trip down to Disney the first week of June with my sister and her family. I got to work in some sites on the way there and back. We even got to see Jimmy Carter teach Sunday School. But that was mostly a trip for my wife and kids, a reward for tagging along on my many historical sites filled trips.
    September came quicker then expected, and we were off. When I got off of work on Friday September 20th, we drove to our hotel in Rochester, NY for the night. It was a short night as we got there around midnight and were on the road by 6 am. We had alot of driving to do that day. But finally around 10 am we arrived at the first stop of the trip. Gravesite of Vice President William Wheeler.
    Now just to recap. We have had 47 men serve as Vice President, 6 are alive, which leaves 41 VP gravesites to visit. Of those 41, 13 went on to be President, and each of them have their own page on this blog. These Vice President post are meant to focus more on the 28 remaining VP's who never became President. And before this trip I collected 15 of them:
Elbridge Gerry  Washington DC
Charles Curtis  Topeka, Kansas
Henry Wallace  Des Moines, Iowa
Adlai Stevenson I  Bloomington, Illinios
Thomas Marshall  Indianapois, Indiana
Charles Fairbanks  Indianapolis, Indiana
Thomas Hendricks  Indianapolis, Indiana
John C. Breckinridge  Lexington, Kentucky
Richard M. Johnson  Frankfort, Kentucky
Alben Barkley  Paducah, Kentucky
Aaron Burr  Princeton, New Jersey
Garrett Hobart  Paterson, New Jersey
George M. Dallas  Philidelphia, Pennsylvania
George Clinton  Kingston, New York
Levi Morton  Rhinebeck, New York

   On this trip I would add 4 more, fairly unknown VPs to the list.

#19 William Wheeler 1819 - 1887

                                  Vice President under Rutherford B. Hayes from 1877 - 1881

     After 8 years of a scandal filled Grant administration, The 1876 Republican National Convention wanted canidated who were more honest and honerable. Ohio Governor Rutherford B. Hayes immerged as the Presidential canidate. And in was left to the New York delegation to pick the VP canidate. After much arguing someone, half joking said, "how about Wheeler"?

    At the time William Wheeler was a little known Congressman from upstate New York who once refused a bribe from corrupt political boss Roscoe Conkling. Eventually Wheeler was chosen to balance to ticket with Hayes. When Hayes found out that Wheeler was the VP canidate he told his wife, "I was sorry to say that I didn't know who Wheeler was".

   Hayes made it clear that he only wanted to serve one term, and Wheeler followed his example. After 4 uneventful years as Vice President, Wheeler retired to his Malone, NY home, where he died in 1887.

Historical marker in front of the cemetery.

Wheeler family gravesite.

VP Wheeler and I

As a bonus I found Wheelers house just a few blocks away from Morningside Cemetery

   When it comes to VP gravesites, Wheeler is one of the toughest to get to. It was about 3 hours out of the way. Luckily the beautifully scenic upstate New York made for a nice drive. Malone is WAY far north, just a few miles from the Canada line. While up that way the next stop was Chester Arthurs birthplace in WAY far northern Vermont, about 2 hours away.

    It would be 2 days until we hit another VP grave. After Arthur's birthplace we revisited the Coolidge historical site in Plymouth, VT. Then spent the night in the Albany, NY area. The next morning we revisited Chester Arthurs grave in Albany then headed north to Saratoga Springs to see the Grant Cottage where President Grant died. Then we headed east and hit some Franklin Pierce sites in NH before arriving at our hotel in Maine.

  First stop the next morning was in Bangor, Maine at the gravesite of Abraham Lincolns first Vice President Hannibal Hamlin.

#15 Hannibal Hamlin 1809 - 1891

                                    Vice President under Abraham Lincoln from 1861 - 1865

    Hannibal Hamlin is probably the most well known of the 4 VPs I saw on this trip, which doesn't say much. He was Vice President at one of the most critical times in the nations history. But he is pretty insignificant in Civil War history. He is a good example of how unimportant the Vice Presidency was back then. Lincoln depended more on the likes of his cabinet members: Stanton, Seward and Chase, then his VP. Hamlin spent much of the War at his home in Maine. At one point in 1864 he joined the war effort by serving as a cook in the Coast Guard for 3 months, until he quite.

   He was a Congressman and long time Senator. He was even elected Governor of Maine. He served as Governor for about 2 months, until he decided that he liked it better in the Senate. So he resigned the Governorship and resumed his term as Senator. As always the case, Hamlin was picked as Lincoln's VP canidate to balance the ticket in 1860. Lincoln dropped Hamlin from the ticket in 1864, and picked Andrew Johnson. As we know just a few weeks after Lincolns 2nd Inaguaral, he was assassinated and Johnson became President. Which means Hamlin was close to becoming President, had Lincoln picked him in 1864.

   Hamlin would return to the Senate after the Civil War. And later as Minister to Spain during the Garfield administration. He died in Maine in 1891.

Hamlin family gravesite.

VP Hamlin and I

   Maine was really nice. I enjoyed the drive. We left Bangor and headed south and along the coast where we hit the grave of Henry Knox, Revolutionary War General and first Sec. of War under President Washington. We continued along the coast hitting Portland Head Lighthouse and the Bush vacation home in Kennebunkport.

  We then spent a couple of days in the Boston area. We saw Plymouth, Daniel Websters grave, Abigail Adams birthplace, Adams sites in Quincy, George Bush birthplace, JFK Library and the North Bridge (site of shot heard around the world which started the Revolution in Concord) the first day. The next morning we hit JFKs birthplace and started heading out of Boston, where we hit our next VP of the trip. VP Henry Wilson in Natick, Mass.

#18 Henry Wilson 1812 - 1875

                                   Vice President under Ulysses S. Grant from 1873 - 1875

    Henry Wilson was born Jeremiah Jones Colbath, but changed his name as a young adult to Henry Wilson because he had long been astranged from his parents. He worked his way up from poverty to eventually being a U. S. Senator.

   In 1872, President Grant was running for reelection. He dropped his first VP Schuyler Colfax because he had gotten caught up in some scandals. Senator Wilson was picked to replace Colfax and the Grant Wilson ticket easily won.

   Wilson was a Radical Republican and stout abolitionist. He suffered through a few ailments throughout his Vice Presidency and died in office in the U. S. Capital Building in 1875.

Overview of the Wilson family gravesite in Dell Park Cemetery Natick, Mass.

To date, this remains the most unassuming of any President and Vice Presidents gravesite that I have seen.

A more modern marker informs you that this guy was Vice President

VP Wilson and I

     After VP Wilsons grave we stopped at some Calvin Coolidge sites in Northampton, Mass, then hit George W. Bush's birthplace in New Haven, CT before going to our hotel in CT. for the night. The next morning we started heading towards home hitting the new FDR Library and Martin Van Buren sites in Kinderhook, NY along the way. Our final stop of the trip was our final VP of the trip. VP James S. Shermans grave in Utica, NY.

#27 James S. Sherman 1855 - 1912

                                Vice President under William Howard Taft from 1909 - 1912

     James S. Sherman was a Conservative Congressman from New York when he was picked as William Howard Tafts running mate in the election of 1908. Which balanced the ticket nicely. Sherman was also a heavier guy, who along with Taft, remains the heaviest Major party ticket in U. S. history.
     The Shermans and Tafts became pretty good friends, and Sherman became the first VP renominated in 84 years. But as the election of 1912 approached Sherman was suffering from a  kidney ailment and died less then a week before the election. Taft failed to win reelection and Sherman remains the last Vice President to die in office.

VP Shermans tomb in Forest Hill Cemetery Utica, NY

Best pic I could get of inside the Sherman tomb.

VP Sherman and I.

Well that does it for now. I now have 9 VPs left to see. And it will be no quick and easy task. To illustrate, here are the ones that are left:
Daniel Tompkins  New York, New York
John C. Calhoun  Charleston, South Carolina
William R. King  Selma, Alabama
Schuyler Colfax  South Bend, Indiana
Charles Dawes  Chicago, Illiniois
John N. Garner  Uvalde, Texas
Hubert Humphrey  Minneanapolis, Minnesota
Spiro Agnew  Timonium, Maryland
Nelson Rockefeller  Sleepy Hollow, New York

  So as you can see, they are quite spread out. As of now I have no definate plans on which will be next. Time will tell.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Churches of the Presidents

 Churches have been the center pieces of many American communities since before our founding. It's often the biggest building in small towns, which makes them logical places to hold town meeting, set up voting booths, and various other parties and functions. All of this is of course secondary to their primary function as a house of worship, a place to gather with other believers, and to recharge your faith batteries. You know, Church stuff.

Traveling around the country seeing various Presidential sites I have stumbled upon afew churches with Presidential connections. Here they are.

United First Parish Church in Quincy, MA is the burial site of both John Adams and John Quincy Adams. John Quincy Adams was also a member.

This small church is on the property of The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's home in Nashville, TN.

McKendree Methodist Church in Nashville, TN is the site of James K. Polk's funeral

First (now Downtown) Presbyterian Church in Nashville was the site of James K. Polk's Inaguaration as Governor of Tennessee. Andrew Jackson was also a member.

The front of First Presbyterian Church in Nashville

The Church of the Presidents in Long Branch, NJ has been attended by 7 different Presidents.It now seems to be under renovation.

As the sign says, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, B. Harrison, McKinley and Wilson all attended services here. President Garfield died just a few blocks away.

There was a very cold rain falling on me when this photo was taken. So dispite the look on my face I was happy to of found it.

Grover Cleveland was born in Caldwell, NJ at a house owned by the local church. The house was reserved for the minister and his family to live in. Grovers father was the minister which explains why Grover was born there. The church is no longer standing, but this is the church that sites on the site of Clevelands fathers church.

President McKinley's church in Canton, OH

President McKinley's church in Canton, OH

Historical marker in front of Theodore Roosevelts boyhood church in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York

Boyhood Church of Theodore Roosevelt. Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York

Calvin Coolidges church in Plymouth, VT

The Coolidges pew is marked by the flag

Quacker meeting house in West Branch, Iowa that Herbert Hoover attended as a child

Inside Hoovers Quacker Meeting House

The small chapel in Abilene, Kansas in which the Eisenhowers are buried.

Plains Baptist Church in Plains, GA is the church in which Jimmy Carter was Baptized. He attended here until 1977 when there was a conflict with the pastor about a black man not being allowed to speak there. That's when he changed churches

Maranatha Baptist Church. Plains, GA.Current church of President Carter. He teaches Sunday School here. I got to attend a class in June 2013

Miss Jan goes through the ins and outs of how to conduct yourself around the former President.

President Carter about to teach Sunday School

Tampico, IL. Ronald Reagan grew up with a Catholic Father and a Protestant Mother. This is the church that he would attend with his Mother.

This is the Catholic church that Ronald Reagan attended with his father in Tampico, IL

This is the First Christian Church in Dixon, IL in which Ronald Reagan was baptized at age 11


Front of the First Christian Church in Dixon, IL

St. Martins church in Houston, TX is the current church of former President George H. W. Bush

Courtyard at St. Martins in Houston