Conversation With Cliff


We were talking about his boys, Cliff and I. It led into a new subject

for me to research. He had suggested in the 1800’s, President Ulysses

S. Grant had been one of the founders of the idea for National Parks.

We had had a few recent conversations about President Theodore

Roosevelt, his past and the post I had written. This was the one about

his personal tragedy of losing his wife and mother on the same day.

Which took Theodore out West to find an ‘escape’ and tranquility. The

area he had chosen to find refuge in, led him to his pursuit of natural

wonders and supporting National Parks.


Hiram Ulysses Grant was born on April 27, 1822 and lived until July 23,

1885. He had throat cancer and died at age 63 years old.  He was born

in Point Pleasant, Ohio. He met his wife from a classmate during the

years after he attended military school. He had four children and his

legacy as President and during the times of Civil War and following

peaceful times, is with mixed reviews.


Time has slowly improved and healed some of the negative aspects

of President Grant’s memories. Historians and biographers have

become kinder over the years.


As a boy, Hiram’s father had Abolitionist sentiments. The family

did not have slaves. Later on, wife’s family did. When there were

times of financial hardship, Grant released his wife’s slaves. This

was despite the fact he could have made money by selling them.

He had enlisted their services on the farm they had owned and they

participated in helping to care for the land. Grant named his family’s

home, “Hardscrabble.”


While young, Grant did not attend the family’s Methodist church,

since apparently he was the youngest and did not have to. He chose

to pray privately all his life. He had a sensitive nature, shown in his

taking art courses from Robert Walter Weir. This artist’s paintings

were from the Romantics period. There are nine artworks of Grant’s

still surviving.


Hiram had a knack for handling and training horses. He was what

we would now call a, “Horse Whisperer.”


Another aspect of Grant’s softer side was when President Abraham

Lincoln was assassinated, he stood alone at the funeral and wept.

He said of Lincoln:

“He was incontestably the greatest man I have ever known.”


The only quote I could find from Lincoln of Grant was during the

Civil War, while Grant was very rough on his troops, trying to keep

them in line and some of the bloodiest battles were ones he led,

Lincoln said when others complained of Grant’s determination

and grit:

“I can’t spare this man, he fights.”


Going back to how Grant got his name accidentally changed. . .

When Hiram was only 17 years old a congressman who knew his

father, nominated him for the U.S. Military Academy in West

Point, New York. The friend knew his middle name was Ulysses

and his mother’s maiden name was Simpson, so he chose to write

his letter of recommendation for “Ulysses S. Grant,” to become

a military student at West Point.


At school, since his initials were U.S., some of his friends started

to call him “Sam” as in “Uncle Sam.” What a patriotic name this is.

Just imagine how it came to be and I like to picture him so much

more as the boy named, “Hiram.” When he went off to school at

West Point there are records of his weight and height:

He was 5′ 1″ tall and he weighed 117 pounds.


He was an average student who liked mathematics and geology.


A good friend and classmate at West Point introduced him to his

sister, Julia Dent. They became engaged and four years later,

“Sam” and Julia married.


At the time after the Civil War, Grant and his family traveled to

Washington, D.C. He was in Cabinet meetings and was given the

authority to be in charge of cotton and its sales in the district

where he and his wife’s family lived.


Grant was invited to join President Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd,

for an evening at the theater. Instead, Grant and his wife and family

went to Philadelphia for entertainment and a vacation. When he

was called back to Washington due to the assassination, Grant

was bereft.


Some of the negative reports about Grant include that he may have

had a drinking problem during his academy and military career.


Grant also made a ‘bad decision’ in judging the Jewish people who

were involved in the district he was responsible to monitor cotton

sales in.   He “threw all the Jewish cotton dealers out” and this

Anti-Semitic decision has been often listed as one of the worst ones

he made.


Positive relationships with the African Americans post-Civil War

and the Native Americans have made President Ulysses S. Grant’s

memories and tributes less harsh over the years. When he threw

himself into the Civil War battles, Grant “found renewed energy in

the Union cause.” He led volunteer army he tried to rally and

discipline the Northern troops the best he could.


While President, Grant chose to create a position in his Cabinet

and nominate someone to be the “Commissioner of Indian Affairs.”

He wanted Peace among the tribes and Grant publicly ‘castigated’

Custer for his massacre of the Indians in the battle known as,

“Custer’s Last Stand.”


Cliff is my coworker who has two sons who are on the precipice of

being teenagers. He is struggling to find ways to continue family night

and enjoying all sorts of activities together. His wife is often ‘left at

home’ but he insists she prefers her personal space and encourages

the boys to spend time with their Dad.


Cliff has been trying to capture their attention by taking them to

parks, renting canoes, hiking in various places around the four states

of Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Indiana. He has been considering a

trip to Pennsylvania, but has not decided if this is where they will go

for a summer vacation.


Cliff is the one who told me about Grant’s positive decisions to help

Native American relations and also, the Gold Rush. While people

were out West, panning for gold, some stumbled upon the lovely

Geysers and other notable natural beauties.

Cliff was also ‘sure’ that Grant helped to denote the land around the

Geysers out West, as National Park. He was also ‘sure’ that Yellowstone

Park was part of President Grant’s plan of becoming a National Park.


Cliff is a ‘simple guy,’ but an extraordinary father. I give him plenty

of positive encouragement, while not flirting or trying to take too

much time away from my order filling.  He is in Cycle Count, so is

often ‘in my way’ and  by talking to him, he follows me while I pick

the warehouse products and place them in the bins or hampers.


I had written a post some time ago, last winter I believe, talking about

his interest in the cartoon which had content for young people, “Johnny

Quest.” There were no copies of the series in his local library. He found

some, I believe on YouTube. He ended up showing his boys several

episodes and getting them hooked on “Scooby Doo.”


So was Cliff right? For someone who admits he only got “C’s” in  his

high school Geography and History classes, he has come a long way!


On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant passed the legislation

for National Parks in an area about the size of Rhode Island and the

state of Delaware combined. “Yellowstone Park” and all of the area

is intended to be held as a National Park, preserved and protected

by the United States Government. This law that was passed into a

Bill made the Northwest Corner of the Wyoming Territory part of

the beginning of many other areas known as National Parks.


Some quick facts about Yellowstone National Park of note:

~Home of 1/2 the World’s geysers.

~Large mountainous region.

~High elevation lakes.

~Numerous species and abundant game and wildlife.

All are protected and preserved, due to President Ulysses S. Grant.


Just for extra information, Cliff shared with me that in Ohio we

only have one National Park. It is called Wayne National Forest

and is located in the Southeastern part of Ohio. It is an area of

240,101 acres. It is located on the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau

and is part of a ‘reforestation program.’


Isn’t it amazing the things you can learn from a coworker?


Hope the research and information about President Ulysses S.

Grant showed you a different picture than the Civil War leader,

making him a more well-rounded character.


43 responses »

  1. what an interesting story, i really knew nothing about grant before your post. isn’t it funny how a conversation can lead to so much new information? that’s what keeps life interesting –

    • I know, I appreciate the people who know something I never even thought about. I guess I knew about the Civil War and assumed he was a good military man. That was all I could remember, Beth! It sure does make life interesting, you have a knack for drawing people out of themselves and finding so many interesting subjects, too.

  2. I didn’t know a think about our President Grant. Thanks for listening so well to Cliff and backing all that up with your research for sharing this tale about why we have our parks, Robin. Hey, he did good with Johnny Quest on YouTube, too. 😮

    • Thanks, Mark! I agree, I knew basically two facts about Grant, so was amazed he knew about the law and national parks part of history. I am always surprised when someone who seems to be one-dimensional becomes multi-dimensional. It truly is important to ask good questions and listen to the answers…. You are so wonderful with this gift and talented at writing about many person’s talents.

      • When this discovery happens in my life, Robin, what I often conclude that I was the one being one-dimensional in my attitude toward and relationship with the other person!

  3. Are you sure you aren’t working some where as a teacher? Because you do a fabulous job of educating us. 🙂 Well done Robin. I had no idea about most of this! (Though I did know of Wayne National Forest!)

    • I am smiling at your very big compliment, Colleen! I read my first blogs and am surprised at how far from the beaten path I have gone… I think my byline helped me find focus, “Relationships reveal our hearts.” It seems everywhere we go, there are people and there are hearts (and minds to share with us!)
      I have been to Hocking Hills but driven right past Wayne National Forest on Rte. 33, Colleen! smiling back at you! xo

  4. Interesting. I read recently that Grant botched the relationship with the South after Lincoln was assassinated. I dont know if that’s true or not because I read it in a historical romance novel set in Boston :/

    • Well, he got rough on the Ku Klux Klansmen and he also wanted African Americans to be considered ‘citizens.’ They didn’t get to vote until the 1960’s!! He was not perfect but there were many ways he was one who supported their rights. Just a few errors in judgement… Thanks for sharing this thought and all I can say is, it was fun researching about his good qualities, too!

    • You are so welcome if I gave you at least a few new thoughts or details about Grant. I knew only two things about him, he was a president and he served in the Civil War. I liked all the other dimensions I found about him, Elizabeth and am so glad you read this. Your real life posts are so interesting, it makes me a little embarrassed about my research posts. Thank you for making me feel better about this!

      • That’s funny, Robin. One of my first loves is research. I research everything and it was one of the things I enjoyed most about writing. Don’t ever be embarrassed. Your posts are fabulous, as any of your many fans would be glad to tell you. 🙂

    • Yes, Grant was not a good student and his rating was something like 20th out of 33 or something like this. He showed his spirit and his rowdy, rougher side while demanding the military volunteers show some grit and determination. Lorna, this is how our Army is today, in their persistence to have the young men become better and more disciplined in their approach. Thanks for telling me about the documentary about West Point. I am sure Robert E. Lee was a fine man, a good leader, which is all that can be measured in his military and schooling backgrounds. Unfortunately, he supported slavery. This is not a good attribute… but a common one in the South!

    • I was a Language Arts teacher for 4,5, and 6th graders. Never seemed to find history interesting until I got older. I am fascinated more with word play and the idea of storytelling, Jill. You show a real knack for storytelling and I enjoy having your posts to read about very diverse subjects, Jill. Thanks for the very nice compliment!

  5. History is fascinating. While visiting the Florida Keys there a boat load of State forests. (OK maybe not national but still preserving history). One of them that I visited was:

    Yep I thought the up the creek bit was cute too.
    Turns out my Tux Duck is a relative of the Mallards he swims with.
    One year it was kind of cute as he was paired up with an almost all white or off white lady duck.

    I just have fun writing when I’m not too tired from watching my grands. I’ve been on an early spring cleaning spree and actually gave away about ten boxes and or bags of stuff. Filled the trash can to capacity last week. And have a few more bags for charity this Saturday.

    Did you know this:

    My DIL has someone at her school who collects the jeans and they give the school some kind of credit. Not quite like the link (but then I didn’t read it to closely). And you can give scraps too. They give credit by weight not condition. Maybe the company recycles the material to create new products for the homeless? Anyway I got derailed here because I ended up giving my DIL about two big boxes of old jeans. One I had planned to do something with and hadn’t touched in years. And I even got my hubby to donate a couple more that he didn’t need. I even donated a pillowcase I had made out of denim scraps that I just didn’t want to deal with anymore.

    I’ve even been good by not going to the charity shop to restock my home with things I don’t need. 🙂
    I’m going to try and use up all the goodies (gifty things I have already collected) before I get anything new or gently used!

    And now it is time to snooze. Hugs. And many thanks for your kind words.

    • I am so thankful for the way you responded to all of my comments about your January poetry, some I was not able to get to, too. Your reply here was put in my pending approval area, Jules! (Again!) so sorry not sure why I don’t worry about my friends getting caught in this area, here you had so much to offer and others would have enjoyed all the information, too. I apologize and hope we can still continue to stay connected. I liked how you mentioned reusing jeans and your DIL along with the different cute little duck parts of your poetry I always love. Haikus and other combinations of using your creative imagination. Thank you for writing this great collection of thoughts and also, how you added links, too. I just released 29 prisoners out of my pending approval cell! Not smiling since this is a serious offense- my not checking here more often!

      • No worries. Really. WP tends to royally mess things up when they think they are fixing things. So I suspect that is when all the ‘captures’ of your regulars started.

        I make it a habit of checking spam or suspected spam at least once a day. But that is harder when you don’t have your own computer and have limited access. It is amazing that you accomplish what you do!!

        Be well and don’t worry 🙂
        Hugs, Jules

      • Ah…I thought about it… the Pending Dungeon…I had too many links. If your settings are such it will put anything with more (or any links) in the pending for your review first.

        Also depending on the screen availability of your ‘activity’ view and you might not the pending comments. At the bottom of your All Comments section, which for me only shows the first four most recent comment, there are little numbers on the bottom which shows All, Pending, Approved , Spam and Trash. Hope this info is helpful.

    • Oh, there is so much I didn’t know or may have heard but really didn’t listen… don’t worry, we all learn something new every day, Luanne. I would like to see the program with his art work. I am smiling at what we have both forgotten over the years, too!

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  8. I’m not a sponge for retaining information, and my interests in history have always leaned to the beginning of our country and the Revolutionary War as well as WWII. Since moving to the south, the Civil War has become more of an interest. We live so close to major battlefields and the path that Sherman took to weaken the south, I became more interested. I didn’t know a lot of the information you wrote about Grant. I did know that he had a low tolerance to alcohol, and one drink would make him tipsy. I think I also learned the other day that he didn’t like slavery, but he would never consider the African American as an equal. Oh! I also thought that Roosevelt was responsible for all the National Parks. I didn’t know Grant had a hand in Yellowstone. Thanks for sharing this information.

      • April, I am glad you feel he is and I am ‘proud’ of how he is trying to keep the ‘boys’ engaged in activities. This will help them to become good and kind fathers, along with keeping them out of trouble! Smiles, Robin

    • April, thanks for letting me know about the area you live in and your interests in different periods and wars. I find the area you live in would make you more interested in the Civil War, too. I also was glad you pointed out which parts of the writing you had heard about and added to this comments part with your own thoughts. Thanks, April!

  9. I appreciate your background on U. S. Grant. I always wondered if that was his real name. It seemed too made-up for a president. I also did not know he was a national parks advocate since TR gets the credit for having established the National Park Service.

    I checked out some photos of Ohio’s national park, and I came up with Cuyahoga Valley. I’ve never been to Ohio, so I don’t know much about the attractions other than what I get from your blog. I have to admit it is stunning. At least you got me to investigate beyond your story.

    I like how you wove some human interest stuff about Cliff into your post. He sounds like a great friend and a cool guy. I am sure his sons will realize how lucky they are if they don’t already know what a good father he is. – Mie

    • Thanks, Mike for your checking out the Cuyahoga Valley, we call the area “The Emerald Necklace.” I am sure if would also be possible to look this up in that vernacular. I loved growing up on Lake Erie, the zoo is in and around a great ravine.
      I wish we had more than one national park but we have plenty of state parks.
      So glad you were interested in how Grant got his name, along with the fact TR gets most of the credit for the National Park Service. It was nice to find these things out and glad that some were interested in the details. I know you like history and nature, so I thought this would be right up your alley! Glad to know I was right!
      I pass to Cliff lots of praise and encouragement for what he is doing, time well spent. Like you said, this part of being a great father will have the effect on their own parenting and participation in their children’s lives. Should they have them… smiles!

  10. Fantastic interesting story, thoroughly enjoyed learning more on the life and times of Grant.
    To think he died at 63 from throat cancer after such a career, extraordinary.
    Hopefully history will record his higher points of life in kind favour.

    • I am like you, Ian, hoping history will be kinder to his memory. He seemed like a well-rounded character who rose to the occasion of being a leader. Grant was not particularly good in school nor was he interested in farming too much either.
      I need to go visiting your posts very soon!

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