Backstory and Context
Ulysses S. Grant resigned from the military in 1854, and wished to spend the rest of his time with his wife Julia and their children. He planned to support his family by farming at White Haven, since the army no longer provided him with an income. Ulysses and his wife received eighty acres of land as a wedding gift, and they used this land to build a home. With the help of others, Ulysses planted crops of potatoes, wheat, corded wood, and he harvested fruit from the orchards, and tended a vegetable garden. He was so enthusiastic about his future that he once commented to a friend, “Whoever hears of me in ten years will hear of a well-to-do old Missouri farmer.”
Ulysses also constructed his own home on an elevated location that was located 100 feet from the road and was also close to his crops. In the fall of 1855, he began gathering and cutting logs for the cabin. He spent the next spring and summer digging a cellar and setting the stones for the foundation. Ulysses shingled the roof, constructed the stairs, and installed the floors by himself. The cabin consisted of four rooms, two of which were located upstairs and two were located downstairs, a hall ran between the rooms on both floors. Julia did her best to decorate the place, but even her standards of enhancement could not disguise its rustic nature.
Although “Hardscrabble” was the first house that the Grant's ever owned, they lived there for only a short time. At the request of Colonel Dent, Julia and Ulysses returned to White Haven afterJulia’s mother passed away in January of 1857. After the Grant family vacated “Hardscrabble,” the building obtained a history of its own. It was disassembled and moved three times, until it was finally located on the property of present day Grant’s Farm, which is owned and operated by Anheuser-Busch.
On August 23, 1859 Frederick Dent sold the farm to Joseph W. White for $7,200. On February 12, 1863 Joseph defaulted on his payments, and Julia regained the title to the land and property. On May 17, 1884 Ulysses mortgaged his property to William Vanderbilt, in order to cover a loan of $150,000. On April 15, 1885 Ulysses transferred the property to Vanderbilt. Luther Conn purchased the farm in 1888. On December 2, 1889 Luther Conn sold 132 acres of the land acres to Henry J. Weber for $10,175, but maintained the rights to sell the cabin separately.
In 1891, Luther Conn sold the cabin in for $5,000 to Edward and Justin Joy, who were real estate developers. They disassembled the home and rebuilt it in Old Orchard, Missouri. In 1907, August A. Busch purchased “Hardscrabble” and rebuilt it on his estate, which contained over 280 acres of the land once owned by Grant. The cabin, situated about one mile from its original site, remains there today. Anheuser-Busch restored the cabin, replaced rotted wood and other structural components in 1977.
Grant’s Farm has been a St. Louis tradition for more than five decades. More than 24 million guests have visited this popular family attraction since it was opened it to the public in 1954. The farm ranked the seventh-best family attraction nationwide in the U.S. Family Travel Guide Zagat Survey®. Grant’s Farm consists of horse stables, a tram that transports visitors across the farm, Grant’s cabin, and 400 animals. There is also a Tier Garden where visitors can feed goats, ride on the carousel, enjoy animal and elephant shows and camel rides.