Friday, November 24, 2017

Leather Wars

Grant has been in the military for quite some time when he came back to Galena to live and work with his younger brothers in the family leather business. Grant worked there from April 1860 until he went to join the Civil War in 1861. So after visiting his home, we set off to find the store downtown where it still stands.

My 3rd great grandfather also came from Ohio where the Grant family was from and moved to Galena in 1858 where he was in the leather business until 1860 when he moved to Iowa. He was a Methodist, along with the Grant family, and so I am fairly certain that he knew the Grants quite well. I don't have an exact date of when my 3rd great grandfather left for Iowa in 1860 so I'll never know for sure if he met Ulysses Grant or not but I like to think he did.

So it was kind of relieving to me so see that the Grant Leather store is now a sock boutique. I don't know where my 3rd great grandfather's leather store was in Galena but his store still stands in Iowa though it is now a bar. Much more manly than a sock boutique!

We popped into another place for lunch and were surprised to see Filipino Adobo on the chalk board menu. When we inquired about it the waitress said it was the special for tonight but later came back and said she would give us some to try out and review since it was the first time it was being prepared for the public.  Presentation wise it looked good and the chicken was excellent. However, the rice served with the meal was terrible. It was mushy and bland. When we asked the young waitress (who was Filipino and only been here in the States for a few months) what kind of rice they used, she asked the chef and returned to say that it was something called Uncle Ben's. She had no idea of what that referred to but sadly I knew. We gave our honest review of getting some real rice and a rice cooker instead of making instant rice. I wonder if they listened.

Weird statue near the restrooms in the restaurant. Kind of Doctor Suess like.

For our final stop of the day, we stopped in at the Galena Museum which touted itself as the largest Grant collection in the world. It did have the original oil painting seen above that is in just about every textbook on the subject of the Civil War. It was a whopping 9 feet tall by 12 feet wide so just that mass alone probably made the claim of the largest Grant collection true. The museum itself was interesting but was mostly a period collection of artifacts from the time Grant lived in Galena and not so much on Grant himself. It did have a cigar and a boot he owned. Perhaps the most interesting thing to me was an actual mineshaft in the back of the building that miners used to extract tons of lead ore from before it was finally closed in the early 1900's. Made me ponder what was beneath the floor I was standing on.

After viewing the life size picture of Grant, the curator started turning off the lights signalling our overstayed welcome so we headed back to Dubuque for an evening with some old colleagues of mine.


sage said...

I knew what Galena was, but never knew lead was mined in Illinois. An interesting post-too bad about the rice but that unicorn camel was certainly unique.

Kelly said...

I don't think I've used instant rice in more than 40 years, but I know Uncle Ben's does make long cook varieties - or at least they use to. Considering we grew rice on our farms, I use to always make sure to buy Arkansas rice, though I can't remember at the moment which companies bought AR rice.

My SIL was just telling me a story yesterday about a house in Natchitoches LA where there's a settee upon which (rumor has it) Grant and a lover courted. :)

Vince said...

How tall was he. Here he looks really tiny. And even the painting is a bit odd.

BrightenedBoy said...

Bar definitely trumps sock boutique. And how cool that you have this family connection! I think what always struck me as somewhat bizarre about the American Civil War, particularly on the Northern side, was how many major players had been just ordinary people immediately before the conflict broke out. From humble shops and log cabins to commanding vast armies and determining the fate of a continent.

Incidentally, my family was on the other side of this war and got caught up in one of its major sieges. Robert E. Lee once attended service at the church where I was baptized, and the town has maintained the post where he tied his horse, Traveller. So interesting to see these pieces of history still with us.

Ed said...

Sage - There was quite a bit of it in that area extending north into SW Wisconsin.

Kelly - I haven't knowingly had AR rice but I would like to try some someday and compare it to the Asian varieties we mostly eat in our house.

Vince - I think he was 5 feet 8 inches tall.

Brightened Boy - I really like it when family history ties into general country history. It really makes me feel that we are all much closer than we think.