Galena, Illinois - Ulysses S. Grant Historical Exhibition
Old Market House
Old Market House, Galena, Illinois
The Market House was constructed in 1846 as a place where buyers and sellers could congregate to barter for goods. The first floor held 12 trading stalls; on the second floor was the city council chambers, the surveyor's office and the market master's office.
In 1850 Galena was the most significant trading port along the Mississippi River between St. Louis, Mo. and St. Paul, Minnesota and was one of the major cities of what was then the western frontier of the United States. The Market House continued to be a trading center until Galena's role as a major trading port began to decline. The city market closed in 1910 and in 1938 the city council moved to new chambers. The building was unoccupied until it was transferred to the State of Illinois who restored it as a State Historical Site.
Now the Old Market House serves as a meeting place for community organizations and special events. It also hosts historical exhibits; during the holiday and winter of 2007-8 it displayed a special exhibit on Ulysses S. Grant.
< < < The restored city council chambers on the second floor.
Ulysses S. Grant Historical Exhibit
< < < Pictures, memorabilia, and text cover Grant's life in Galena, his Civil War experience, time as President, and through retirement.
< < < One exhibit area was decorated for Christmas and included a Christmas portrait of Grant and his wife, Julia. To the right are some of Mrs. Grant's dishes that she would have put out at Christmas time.
A West Point graduate, Grant served in the military for eleven years, followed by employment in farming and real estate. In the spring of 1860 Grant and his young family arrived by steamboat in Galena where he joined his brothers in the family leather shop. His family attended the Methodist Church on Branch Street. A year later during a public meeting to discuss the outbreak of the war, Grant presided in support of President Lincoln's call for troops. A month later he was a Colonel in the 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. His first important victory was at Cairo, Illinois. By then he was a Brigadier General.
After several successful miliary campaigns, Grant was promoted to Major General. Later his star somewhat faded after losing 24,000 soldiers in the battle at Shiloh but he regained his support with his victory at Vicksburg, Mississippi culminating on July 4, 1863 with the surrender of 30,000 confederate soldiers that re-opened the Mississippi River.
In March of 1864, after more key victories, Grant was summoned to the White House by President Lincoln, where he was promoted to Lieutenant General and made commander of all Union forces. In three years Grant rose from a clerk in a leather goods shop in Galena to one of the most famous men in America.