Dave's Presidential Graves
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APRIL 1986
A Sunday Drive in Ohio

19th President
2nd in my collection

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Once the hobby officially started, I could not help but plan to visit the most nearby sites, just to give it a try. I was fond of spending bored Sundays driving in the countryside, so I was delighted to calculate that we could drive from Detroit to Fremont, Ohio and back (if we got an early start) with little effort. On the first warm Sunday, we took off south.

We arrived in Fremont around 11 am and quickly spotted signs like "Rutherford B Hayes Library next right". Now I get it! Any president, by nature, is a "hometown hero" or "local boy makes good". Of course they would be buried in their hometown. Of course their grave site would be elaborate and well maintained. They had been president. Hayes also had a presidential library and museum. Later we would learn that many presidents, especially later ones, would have such museums. Most of the recent presidents have large buildings, even complexes, set aside to store their personal papers and effects. The Hayes museum was a modest affair (although larger than Harding's childhood home), taking up the top floor of the Presidential library building. There were swords and medals, maps and dioramas, and a pair of striking larger than life oil paintings of President and Mrs Hayes, so large that it was required to hang them along the wall of an open staircase.

Dave in Fremont, Ohio: Rutherford B Hayes LibraryThe museum had been built on the Hayes home site, and the old house was available to visit "out back". We poked around a little, but have only passing interest in displays of period furniture and antiques. The family grave site was also on the property, on a nearby knoll, and very tastefully done. As I recall, Mrs Hayes passed away first and the President buried her under a favorite tree on a favorite small hill with a view of the surrounding countryside. He eventually joined her there, and they shared a rough marble marker, somewhat large and exuding quiet dignity. We took several pictures, and I was delighted! I was ready to go home and start planning out Presidential grave site road trips!

An excellent resoure: Buy this book.Before leaving, we stopped in at the gift shop (a mainstay, we would later learn, of these Presidential sites). We encountered and immediately purchased a book called "Presidents: Birthplaces, Homes, and Burial Sites" authored by Rachel M Kochmann. The author, a professional musician, lived in Sedona, AZ and had taken one long monster road trip, obviously well organized, to visit each of the significant locations of each of the presidents. She took nearly an entire year to visit and photograph the various houses and roadside markers, birthplaces and tombstones and organized them in her book by president, rather than by state. By limiting my hobby to only graves, I should be finished with godspeed. It was interesting to learn, for instance, that Teddy Roosevelt had been sworn into office (upon William McKinley's assassination) within 5 or so miles of Millard Fillmore's final resting place. Boyhood homes crossed paths with historic speeches and roadside markers and presented pictures and stories from almost every state. This simple investment was a delight to read and enjoy, and made our later trips very productive. I was definitely hooked!

Copyright, 2000, all rights reserved

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Original Web Upload: February 2000
Last Update on: January 3, 2002