William Henry Harrison | 9th President, 1841

Birthplace, Berkeley Plantation, Charles City, Virginia
William Henry Harrison, the youngest of seven children, was born on February 9, 1773, only two years before the American Revolution, at Berkeley Plantation in Virginia. His family was among the richest and the most politically prominent in the colony. Harrison’s father had served three terms as governor.

Berkeley plantation was settled on 4th December 1619, when early settlers from England landed at Berkeley and observed the first official Thanksgiving in America, offering thanks for their safe arrival and decreeing that thenceforth the day should be honored annually.

The present house dates from 1726 and occupies an attractively landscaped position on a hill overlooking the James River. It is the oldest three-story brick house in Virginia and the first to be built with a pediment roof. Berkeley is one of the finest of all the Virginia plantations with ten acres (four hectares) of formal terraced boxwood gardens and lawn extending for a quarter-mile (half-kilometer) from the front of the house to the James River.

Home, Grouseland, Vincennes, Indiana
Grouseland is a historic gem on the banks of the Wabash that shines brightly for thousands of visitors to Vincennes every year. It was the home of William Henry Harrison and his family from 1803-1812, when Harrison was governor of the Indiana Territory. He later became the ninth president of the United States. This stately Federal-style mansion was built between 1802 and 1804. It had fallen into disrepair but was saved through the efforts of the Francis Vigo Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1909. The home has been restored to its original condition and is open year-round. It features a number of Harrison possessions and many period pieces today. Harrison was a native Virginia and had a successful military career prior to entering politics in 1795.

During his governorship of the Indiana Territory, it’s said that Grouseland was the focal point of the social and official life of the territory. The mansion includes a council room where Harrison met with the various Indiana tribes. The Harrison bedroom is noted for it’s “grouse” wallpaper. It’s reported the structure received its name from the grouse that Harrison like to hunt in the area.

Gravesite, W.H. Harrison Memorial, North Bend, Ohio
William Henry Harrison’s inaugural address lasted nearly two hours, but in the days before electronic media, oratory of such duration was common. During the address, the new president wore no coat or hat. As a soldier, farmer and outdoorsman, Harrison had spent much of his life in bad weather. But he was far from young now, and when he followed the address with a round of receptions in his wet clothing, it resulted in a bad chill. Within days he had a cold, which developed into pneumonia.

Doctors were called in, but their medical practices were crude: heated suction cups to supposedly draw out the disease, and the same bleeding tactics that had killed George Washington. All this only weakened Harrison further and three weeks after taking office he was clearly dying. As a last resort, a number of Native American “remedies” were tried, including one involving the use of live snakes. Exactly one month after taking the oath of office Harrison was dead. It was the most fleeting presidency ever, lasting one scant month.

Harrison’s tomb and monument on Mt. Nebo in North Bend contains the remains of William Henry Harrison, ninth president of the United States, his wife, Anna, and other members of the Harrison family. An obelisk of Bedford limestone, with marble entranceway, rises 60 feet above the tomb. From the terrace visitors have a spectacular panorama of the Ohio River valley.

Harrison, who was born in Virginia in 1773, spent most of his adult life in Ohio and Indiana. He served as secretary to the territorial governor, senator, representative, and president, but he is most famous as a military hero. Harrison commanded the western army during the War of 1812.

Memorial, North Bend, Ohio
A tablet, placed inside the Harrison Tomb in 1922, traces the history of the William Henry Harrison Memorial and Tomb. “Harrison’s tomb was built in 1841 to serve as a permanent place of sepulchre for William Henry Harrison and his wife, and as a temporary place for his family. During the course of many years, the tomb and knoll upon which it is located, as well as the small cemetery adjoining, were suffered to fall into decay and ruin, nor was it until seventy-eight years after the construction of the tomb, that legal steps were taken to preserve it and its sacred contents for posterity.

On the first day of April, 1919, Horace Bonser, a member of the General Assembly of Ohio, from Hamilton County, introduced a bill which he had drawn, in the lower house, appropriating ten thousand dollars for the purpose, as the bill recites, “Of placing the tomb and the ground upon which the tomb of William Henry Harrison is located, in a suitable and decent condition in order that the memory of Ohio’s first President and gallant soldier, William Henry Harrison, may be fittingly commemorated.” This bill was passed by both houses of the General Assembly and after receiving the signature of Governor Cox, became a law.

A commission composed of Horace Bonser, William Whipple Symmes and Alfred G. Allen was thereupon appointed by the Governor, which after obtaining title to the property from the surviving Harrison heirs, undertook the work of reclaiming the tomb and tomb site from its then ruinous and neglected state.

In the year 1921 Governor Davis appointed a new commission consisting of Horace Bonser, William Whipple Symmes and Hallie Stephens Caine, and it was this commission that carried out the work originally planned by the first commission. On the 24th day of October 1921 after all preliminary work had been completed, ground breaking exercises were held upon the site of the Memorial Gateway and work upon it finally commenced. During the Spring of 1922 the Gateway was completed and the property suitably graded and planted with appropriate shrubs and flowers.

It is in order that posterity may be in possession of all salient facts leading up to the rehabilitation of the last resting place of our country’s gallant sons and patriots, that the William Henry Harrison Memorial Commission has caused this tablet to be erected this 14th day of Dec. 1922.”

Original Gravesite, Congressional Cemetery, Washington, DC
Congressional Cemetery was established by a group of private citizens on April 4, 1807. The founders enclosed the square, appointed a sexton, and began selling sites for $2.00. Free of debt in 1812, it was ceded to the vestry of Christ Church, Washington Parish, and became known as Washington Parish Burial Ground.

From the beginning the cemetery enjoyed a close association with the Capitol and its environs. The first interment – April 11, 1807 – was of William Swinton, regarded as the finest stonecutter in Philadelphia, who had been recruited the previous August by Benjamin Latrobe to work on the Capitol Building. On July 19, 1807, Sen. Uriah Tracy of Connecticut became the first legislator to be buried here.

In 1816, as a gesture of good will, the vestry set aside 100 burial sites for the interment of Members of Congress. Later the privilege was extended to their families. Periodically, other sites were donated to or purchased by the government, eventually totaling 924. Generally, those sites were used for the interment of officials who died in office. Other dignitaries lie in private plots scattered throughout the cemetery.

In 1835, a receiving vault was built to hold remains until either the gravesite could be prepared or transportation arranged to another city. The bodies of Presidents William Henry Harrison, John Quincy Adams, and Zachary Taylor and First Ladies Dolley Madison and Louisa Adams were held here pending removal to their home states. Journals and newspaper articles of the nineteenth century are replete with accounts of funeral processions from the Capitol, which conclude at the Public Vault.

With the increased use of the cemetery by the government, it became more commonly known as Congressional Cemetery. Although unofficial as the resting place for Members of Congress, some Members were reinterred here from other cemeteries as far away as New York. Over each grave the Congress erected a monument designed by Benjamin Latrobe, architect of the Capitol. For those Members who died in office and were buried elsewhere, the Congress erected cenotaphs, or “empty tombs,” of the same Latrobe design to commemorate their service