Ear: Grant

From the Saturday, Aug. 8, 1885 edition of The Daily Morning Astorian:

"Sixty million people participate in the (Ulysses S.) Grant memorial services today. From Maine to Oregon, from Seattle on the Sound to the sunlit waters of the southern gulf, a great nation mourns the loss of its foremost citizen — and yet, if the fervent wish of anyone of us could call him back from the tomb, would it be uttered?"

A pretty snarky sendoff for a former president (1869-1877) from a small city in Oregon, but Grant was no stranger to the area.

In fact, Grant came west to Washington Territory in 1852-1853, before his rise to fame in the Civil War. He stopped in Astoria on the way and, during his time in the Pacific Northwest, used to visit Astoria merchant Adam Van Dusen's (1823-1884) at his Uppertown store.

Grant's dream was to settle in Vancouver, make his fortune, then bring his family out to join him. Bad investments and worse luck sent him scurrying back to Missouri, broke, in a year.

While out west, he wrote about our fair city in his journal: "Astoria — A place that we see on maps, and read about, is a town made up of some 30 houses (I did not count them) situated on the side of a hill covered with tall trees, looking like pines, with about two acres cleared to give way for the houses.

"There is nothing about the place to support it, only that it is near the outlet of the Columbia River and they have a custom house, distributing post office for the Territory, and a few pilots for vessels coming into the mouth of the river …"

Clearly, Grant was not a man of great vision. (old300.org/ahistory.html) (bit.ly/WTgrant)

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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