A president's backyard
Forest Haven is a walking community. Young and old people, as well as young and old dogs, stroll the streets of their neighborhood under a canopy of stately oak trees, many of which were here when a young officer of the Union Army walked with his bride to be on this same ground.
History tells us that, when Ulysses S. Grant met Julia Boggs Dent, near the beginning of the Civil War, he fell in love, not only with her, but with her cherished homeplace. The land was part of a land grant to the family of Mary Sappington and later purchased by the Dent family.
The Sappingtons built the original White Haven home. Long's grandfather was Captain John Long, a Revolutionary War veteran and early resident of St. Louis. Long was born on the historic farm. According to information provided by the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, which lies in a unique 9.6 acre site contiguous to Forest Haven, 2nd Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant was assigned to Jefferson Barracks following his graduation from West Point in 1843.
Soon after arriving in the city, he visited the family of his former roommate, Frederick Dent, at their plantation on Gravois Creek. There he met Fred's sister Julia, and afterward his visits became quite regular. Both Ulysses and Julia were fond of horses and often rode together on this land and walked beneath these trees. Originally, the farm extended beyond the Village and into St. Paul's Cemetery north of Rock Hill. The bw photo below shows a permanent marker in St. Paul's Cemetery which marks the site of the original Grant's Cabin.
Upon learning of his regiment's impending transfer, Grant proposed to Julia in 1843, and the couple eventually married in 1848. They lived at Whitehave for only five years but memoirs show that the land was cherished by both of them. The White Haven property, which, at that time, included the land that is now Forest Haven, was a focal point in Ulysses' and Julia's lives for four decades. The young lieutenant eventually became a U. S. Army general and led the Union troops to victory in 1865 and, well, "the rest is history".
Although the family moved to Galena, Illinois, in 1860, the Grants continued to think of White Haven as their family home. By 1870, President Grant owned the land we now call home until a few months before his death in 1885. In his memoirs, he offers fond memories of his days at White Haven with his beloved, Julia.
The entrance street to Forest Haven is named Julia Dent after the First Lady and many of the streets in and around Fores Haven include the name Grant or have Civil War references.
Grant's Farm is now an international attraction and the home are Whitehaven is the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, a part of the National Park System.
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