Presidential Historic Sites – Visiting Galena, Illinois and the Home of President Ulysses S Grant

This is another in a continuing series of travelogue articles spotlighting presidential historic sites across America. Join us as we explore the historic town of Galena, Illinois and visit the stately home of America’s 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant…

Galena, Illinois: An Overview

Located in the rolling hills of far northwestern Illinois, Galena originally came into prominence in the mid to late 1800’s. Back then, Galena was the heart of lead mining country, as the hilly terrain in the area had rich deposits of lead and iron ore.

Eventually, mining ran out of steam and Galena ultimately reinvented itself as a weekend get away, aided by a historic downtown and spectacular scenery. Today, the town is bursting with unique specialty shops, antique stores, and cozy bed and breakfasts.

Galena is popular all year around. In winter, skiing is a popular activity with several ski resorts nearby. Spring and summer bring visitors to stroll the narrow streets of downtown Galena and enjoy the many activities in town. Autumn is particularly popular, as Mother Nature puts on a show with stunning colors of lush trees along winding roads, valleys, and hill tops.

The town itself is not large, with a population well under 10,000. But there is plenty to see and do here, even without spending a day shopping. Just 20 miles west is the historic river city of Dubuque, Iowa, which beckons with more shops to explore, three college campuses, and the new Mississippi River Aquarium.

Visiting The Grant Home

Ulysses S. Grant is as well known for being a famous Civil War general as our 18th president, perhaps more. Grant and his family lived in Galena just before he reenlisted in the U.S. Army at the outbreak of the Civil War. When the war ended, he returned to Galena to live.

Arriving back in town in August, 1865, quite a surprise awaited him. The town of Galena had purchased him a handsome brick mansion on a hilltop just outside of downtown. The house, now open as a Grant museum, is where he lived until ascending to the presidency in 1869.

Grant continued to visit Galena and stay in the home until just a few years before he died in 1885. In 1904, his children gave the property to the town, with the understanding that it be preserved as an historic site. Over the ensuing years, the property has been beautifully maintained and welcomes thousands of visitors annually.

Tours are given Wednesday through Sunday and last about 45 minutes. You will see numerous original furnishings from when Grant and his family lived here, including many personal mementos from his presidency.

This home in Galena is one of four historic sites dedicated to President Grant across the country, and is probably the most thorough in terms of chronicling his life and career. The grounds are beautiful and afford a view of the town and the surrounding countryside.


A weekend visit to the Galena area is ideal for any age or interest level. There are numerous historic attractions, four season outdoor activities, and specialty shopping.

At the centerpiece is President Grant’s home, the perfect place to learn about his life, career, and place in American history.

Going From Top Salesperson to Sales Vice-President Destroys Life, Conclusion

Larry’s wife saw the frustration in her husband’s demeanor. Gone were his deep-belly laughter, smiling, and ability to get a good night’s rest.

After nearly a decade as his company’s leading salesman Larry was now a joyless Sales Vice-President. Neither Larry nor his wife was happy with the way things had worked out.

His wife pointed out an ad for an Advanced Leadership Certificate program at the local Community College. After a little encouraging they decided that he should take a few classes to see if they could help him.

As instructor of the class I saw Larry sitting in his seat the first night. The burden of his worries was evident in every aspect of his body language. At the end of the first class Larry lagged behind and shared his story with me. Not only was he struggling with the weight of discouragement from being in a position for which he had not been trained he was having difficulty dealing with being the only vice-president not related to the owner.

Larry and I agreed he would benefit from some one-on-one coaching with me. I asked him to take a quick online assessment so I would know his personal weaknesses, strengths, motivational factors, and career interests. When I read the results of his questions there was only one logical conclusion — Larry was in the job of his dreams!

Why dream jobs can be torturous

Now many will wonder how someone can have the perfect job and not find happiness. Life has taught me this is often true. Dream jobs are usually aligned with someone’s interests are not always aligned with motivational factors and exposed talents.

Take for example the person who loves to make sandwiches. They decide to open a sandwich shop. Things generally run well at first but soon they will struggle with the other aspects of running a sandwich shop. Taxes, payroll, procurement, maintenance, and other business requirements for which they were not trained nor had the motivational interest will overcome the joy of making sandwiches. The focus will turn from creating beautiful sandwich masterpieces to total frustration at making challenges for 48 hours a week.

Larry’s mistake

Larry’s main problem was that he loved sales too much. During those times when he should have been coaching the salespeople he was taking over the sales call completely. The salespeople were becoming frustrated because they wanted to sell themselves and saw his intervention as a lack of confidence in their abilities. They dreaded hearing that he would be joining them on one of their sales calls. Instead of learning from the best salesperson the company had ever had they were so filled with negativity they learned nothing but resentment.

Larry’s change

Larry began to concentrate his listening skills on the salesperson’s approach to a prospect. He fought the urge to jump down during a sales call preferring to work with the salesperson after the call helping the salesperson to realize what the customer wanted and what the company had available to meet those needs.

Over the course of our coaching experience Larry saw how to make the Transformation from the talents of the salesperson to the talents needed by the sales vice president.

Six months later he completed the coaching program saying the fire is back in his belly and he “looks forward to work every day”. His peers commented that there was a “new” Larry — one that was fun to work with side-by-side.

The following season Larry’s company experienced a double digit sales increase, almost reaching their capacity to deliver product. This was in spite of the beginning stages of an economic downturn.

Presidential Sites – Visiting Kinderhook, New York and the Home of America’s 8th President

Welcome to another in a series of travelogue articles highlighting historic sites related to America’s presidents. Located in mid state New York about 25 miles southeast of Albany, the charming town of Kinderhook is home of the farm and restored mansion of America’s 8th president, Martin Van Buren.

Visiting Kinderhook, New York

Kinderhook is a perfect half day trip from Albany, the capital of New York. You’ll find all sorts of things to see and do in Albany, which has the bustle of a government town. Kinderhook is slower paced and small, a typical upstate New York charming small town.

If you enjoy antique shopping, the area around Kinderhook is ideal. Over 35 antique stores dot the streets of Kinderhook and adjacent towns. The quaint downtown area is perfect for a stroll and to stop in one of the local shops or restaurants.

Presidential Trivia

Everyone is aware of the phrase “OK”, but do you know how it originated? Credit goes to Martin Van Buren, whose nickname was “Old Kinderhook”. In letters and memos to staff, he frequently signed off with “OK”, which from his perspective meant “off to Kinderhook”. The abbreviation stuck and morphed into the meaning we know today.

The Home Of America’s 8th President: Martin Van Buren

After winning the 1836 election, Martin Van Buren became the 8th president in early 1837. Not long afterwards, the country sank into a recession. This, coupled with increasing tension between northern and southern states, prevented Van Buren from being elected to a second term. And yet, during his one term, he was well noted for his diplomatic abilities. He successfully navigated the United States through difficult political issues with England and Spain.

He ran for president twice more, in 1840 and 1844, but was defeated both times. This beautifully restored mansion, named Lindenwald, was where he not only conducted his campaigns, but met with prominent leaders and celebrities of the day. In his later years, Van Buren was a respected elder statesman who continued to impact the country until his death in 1862.

From late May through October, Lindenwald and the surrounding grounds are open to visitors. Tours are given on the hour, with tickets available at the adjacent visitors center. Once inside the mansion, you will be taken through many of its 36 rooms, complete with many original furnishings and items from Van Buren’s presidency and family life.

The Lindenwald Estate is just three miles south of Kinderhook and is a popular gathering spot for school groups and the site of numerous special events. It is not too far from the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York, making it an ideal stop for those interested in American and presidential history.