Benjamin Harrison was born on August 20, 1833, in a red brick home on the 600-acre estate of his grandfather. The house was destroyed by fire in 1858, but there is a historical marker. I have not yet visited this site.
Harrison began studies at Farmer's College in College Hill in 1847, but transferred to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 1850. Upon graduation, he returned home to the family estate in North Bend, and stayed there even after his marriage.
In 1854, the Harrisons moved to Indianapolis, Indiana. I am unsure of the location, though I know that the Harrisons lost everything when their first home was destroyed by fire. From 1861 to 1865, Harrison fought in the Civil War, but returned home to Indianapolis at the conclusion of the fighting.
In 1875, Harrison built a sixteen-room mansion in Indianapolis. This remained his official residence for the rest of his life. I visited the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site in 1975:
From 1881 to 1887, Harrison served as United States senator, and lived in Washington, DC. I am unsure of the location of his residence during these years. After a five years break from Washington, Harrison was elected president and moved into the White House in 1893. Serving only one term, the Harrisons returned to their home in Indianapolis in 1897.
Benjamin Harrison died at his home on March 13, 1901, and was buried in Indianapolis, Indiana. I visited the Crown Hill Cemetery in 1975:
An interesting story about how this trip happened....
It was Labor Day weekend of 1975. The summer that was coming to an end had been a busy one for us - we had made several short trips visiting presidential sites all over the neighboring state of Ohio.
My parents and I were sitting at the kitchen counter eating pancakes, as was our normal Saturday morning ritual (cereal was only for weekdays). As we were finishing our breakfast, my mother commented that because my father did not have to work on the holiday Monday, and school didn't start for me until Tuesday, this would have been a good time to squeeze in one final summer weekend presidential getaway. My father agreed and paused only momentarily before suggesting that perhaps it was not too late. They looked at me and asked if there was a president who lived close enough that we could make it there in what remained of the weekend.
I thought for just a brief second and excitedly said that Benjamin Harrison had a home in Indianapolis. My mother wondered aloud if we could make it to Indiana on such short notice. I knew that Ohio was just across the river from our hometown of Parkersburg, so I said that Indiana was just on the other side of Ohio and we should be able to make that.
My father grabbed a map that we had gotten from the AAA during an earlier trip and plotted out the route, I got the H encyclopedia to show him that Indianapolis was Harrison's home, and my mother quickly put away the dishes and started packing. We were on the road by 10am. We visited the sites on Sunday and returned home to Parkersburg on Monday.
It is now almost forty years later, and both of my parents are gone, but I fondly remember this weekend because it displays just how devoted they were to me and my presidential hobby. I also smile thinking my mother retelling the story many times over the next four decades, laughing at how she and my father one morning turned to get a travel suggestion from someone who looked like this:
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