Kenneth (kensmind) wrote in potus_geeks,
Kenneth
kensmind
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In Search of William Henry Harrison

This morning, following a breakfast of biscuits and gravy, I set out in search of William Henry Harrison, the 9th President of the United States, and the president with the shortest time in the chair. (He was president for a scant 31 days in 1841.) It was quite a search, between the fact that my rental car did not come with a GPS, and because I was taken off of the route I had mapped out on Google Maps due to road construction and detours. The site I was looking for was the William Henry Harrison Monument (and Tomb) located in North Bend, Ohio, about 30 miles north west of Cincinnati on a site overlooking the scenic Ohio River. I overshot the mark the first time, went back to Cincinnati and retraced my steps, reading the detour signs correctly the second time. Though Harrison does not merit a significant museum because of his brief tenure as President, the site was still quite impressive, and had quite a bit of information on the obscure chief executive.

Of course I snapped some pictures for you.



1. William Henry Harrison was elected President in the hotly contested election of 1840. He had finished second in the election of 1836 as part of an ill-fated strategy by the Whig Party to run three candidates against Andrew Jackson's anointed successor Martin Van Buren. He won the big prize in 1840 after a vigorous campaign, becoming the first Whig to be elected President. But he couldn't bask in his glory long. A month after his inauguration he was dead.



2-8. The monument marking Harrison's tomb is quite impressive and elaborate, with lots of granite pillars etched with all of Harrison's accomplishments.

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9-12. This is the interior of Harrison's Tomb, where he and first lady Anna Harrison are laid to rest along with some of their family members.

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13. This is the view of the Ohio River as seen from the monument. Kentucky is on the other side of the river.

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14-21. I was lamenting the fact that there was no sort of museum marking all of Harrison's accomplishments. Then I noticed these displays outside, right beside where I had parked my rental car.

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22. Let me end with a creepy story told on this billboard. In case you can't read it, I'll reprint it. The Harrison tomb is adjacent to a cemetery with this story in its history, one which should be told around a campfire with a flashlight shining up on your face. It's called "The Harrison Horror":

When funeral ceremonies were held for John Scott Harrison [the president's son] at Congress Green in 1878, mourners were dismayed to find that a nearby grave had been dug up, it's contents stolen. A hunt for the missing corpse was organized. John Harrison Jr. was in charge. The trail led to the Ohio Medical College in Cincinnati. Searching the place, John Jr. discovered a naked body hidden in a narrow shaft. Thinking he was about to find the missing corpse, John Jr. was horrified to find his own father, John Scott Harrison, who had been buried just twenty-four hours earlier! During the 1800s cadavers were used in many schools to train medical students. Though common, the practice was illegal. Fresh corpses were in such high demand that people would rob graves by night, selling their spoils to medical schools. The body of John Scott Harrison was brought back to Congress Green Cemetery and reinterred in the Harrison tomb.

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I fly back home tomorrow, very early. I wish I had another day here because Zachary Taylor's monument and tomb is about two hours away from here. I'll have to see it another time, maybe when I visit Tennessee in 2014. I'll just have to be satisfied with Taft, Harrison, a little bit of Garfield and some great additions to my potus_geeks library at the Ohio Book Company book store.
Tags: presidential libraries and museums, william henry harrison
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