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A History of Mt. McGregor
Part I:
“Lest We Forget”
Joseph Knapp, the Grand Army of the Republic, Grant
Cottage, and the Me...
{

“I feel the air
very fine here.
This must
become a great
sanitorium
before many
years.”

U. S. Grant
Mt. McGregor, 1885
Grant’s Tomb Dedication Booklet
Compliments of
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
April 27, 1897
1863
The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company is started by a group
of New York City businessmen who raise $100,000 (1.8 mi...
March 24, 1868
The company becomes known as
The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
and shifts focus to the life insurance...
1872 – 1891
Joseph F. Knapp holds the position of
president of the Metropolitan. Knapp
is also a very well-known
philanthr...
Knapp has a special interest in the GAR’s U. S. Grant Post 327,
Brooklyn, NY. Among Knapp’s friends is General Ulysses S. ...
Members of U. S. Grant
Post 327 would provide an
honor guard for General
Grant’s funeral in 1885.
Among them is George W.
...
1879
Knapp brings the European idea of
“industrial” or “workingmen’s”
insurance to the United States. This
form of insuran...
1880
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
policyholders number in excess of 250,000.
Former President and Civil War General U. S. Grant returns from his world
tour an international celebrity. He settles in N...
May 6, 1884
The firm of Grant & Ward fails as the result of an elaborate Ponzi scheme
perpetrated by Grant’s business part...
March 1, 1885
The New York Times
announces that General
Grant is dying of throat
cancer. Attention and
sympathy at home an...
Daily newspapers print reports on the
General’s condition. Crowds gather outside
the Grant home on East 66th Street to off...
June 16, 1885
On the advice of Grant’s physicians, the
General accepts family friend Joseph Drexel’s
offer to use his summ...
The General dies on July 23rd, 1885 – three days after completing his
memoirs. America goes into mourning. Grant’s funeral...
On the day of Grant’s death,
discussions begin on what to do with
the cottage. The cottage’s owner,
Joseph Drexel, authori...
July 25, 1885
Honoring the March request of Commander Henry
M. Calvert of the GAR Brooklyn Post 327, New
York GAR Commande...
March 1886
Drexel first offers the Cottage to the federal government. A bill is sent to the
Committee on Public Buildings ...
Photo courtesy of Saratoga Springs History Museum

In spite of the government’s inaction on taking ownership of the
Cottag...
Hoping that Grant’s death on Mt.
McGregor “would make the
place,” landowner and promoter,
W.J. Arkell finds that “it kille...
1887
Joseph Drexel approaches the
National GAR to take Drexel
Cottage. As the GAR was not
created to hold or administer re...
February 19, 1889
The Mount McGregor Memorial Association is incorporated by the New York
State Legislature and accepts ti...
1889

The Iowa delegate who wore
this 1889 National Encampment
badge voted on the issue
of the caretaker’s salary for
Gran...
Utica attorney and GAR official Oliver
Pendleton (O.P.) Clarke is urged by his
physicians and friends to take the
caretake...
1890
Grant Cottage opens as a museum.
Tours are conducted by GAR
Comrade O.P. Clarke, caretaker
(and his wife, Martha Jose...
1891
The National GAR again
approaches the federal
government to take
responsibility for Grant
Cottage without success.
John R. Hegeman (left)
and Joseph Palmer
Knapp (right).

1892
Following the death of his father on September 14, 1891, Jos...
Courtesy of Jean Woutersz, Wilton Town Historian

1892 – 1917
O.P. Clarke supplements his caretaker’s salary within this t...
1893
The National GAR develops a plan for the support and maintenance of Grant
Cottage. It takes the form of a small “head...
1894
The New York State GAR
takes over funding the Mt.
McGregor Memorial
Association trust (via head tax
on New York State...
May 14, 1896
A bill to appropriate $1,000 ($27,000 in today’s dollars) per year for the
maintenance and support of Grant C...
1909 – 1910
The Metropolitan becomes the
nation’s largest life insurer. During
this period, the Metropolitan makes
the dec...
New York State Senator Edgar T. Brackett successfully lobbies
Metropolitan officials to build the sanitarium complex on Mt...
Photos courtesy of the Orton Collection

December 1910
The Metropolitan purchases the property surrounding Grant Cottage
(...
1914
A young Japanese immigrant,
Suye Narita, arrives at the
sanitarium on Mt. McGregor for
treatment of her tuberculosis....
1916
A stone marker affixed with a Grant memorial plaque is erected in front of the
eastern elevation of Grant Cottage by ...
1917
Martha Clarke, wife of O.P.
Clarke, convinces the GAR to
allow her to become Grant
Cottage’s caretaker following the
...
1930
The Metropolitan is insuring every fifth man, woman, and child in the
United States. The company finances the constru...
1941
Martha Clark dies. Suye Narita
(later Gambino upon her
marriage in 1950) becomes the
next caretaker. She will remain
...
Photo courtesy of Jean Woutersz

1945
New York State purchases the buildings and
grounds of the sanitarium for what would ...
1957
The Mt. McGregor Memorial
Association is dissolved, and
New York State takes title of
Grant Cottage under the auspice...
1960
Early in Governor Nelson
Rockefeller’s administration, the
old sanitarium/rest camp
property is repurposed as an
anne...
Photo courtesy of the Orton Collection

February 18, 1971
Grant cottage is added to the National Register of Historic Plac...
Photo courtesy of the Orton Collection

April 1971
William Tyrrell, chief of historic sites trust management for the New Y...
Photo courtesy of the Orton Collection

1973
Grant Cottage reopens under the administration of the newly created New
York ...
Photo courtesy of the Orton Collection

1976
The old sanitarium property is yet again repurposed – this time as the Mt.
Mc...
End of Part I
By Melissa Trombley-Prosch and Jarrod Prescott
Edited by Jonathan Duda
Acknowledgements
Images used in Part I are from the Trombley-Prosch Collection
(including 1889 GAR National Encampment bad...
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A History of Mount McGregor - Part 1

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Covers the early days of the location of the Grant Cottage State Historic Site and the Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility including the last few years of the life of Ulysses S. Grant.

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Transcript of "A History of Mount McGregor - Part 1"

  1. 1. A History of Mt. McGregor Part I: “Lest We Forget” Joseph Knapp, the Grand Army of the Republic, Grant Cottage, and the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
  2. 2. { “I feel the air very fine here. This must become a great sanitorium before many years.” U. S. Grant Mt. McGregor, 1885
  3. 3. Grant’s Tomb Dedication Booklet Compliments of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company April 27, 1897
  4. 4. 1863 The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company is started by a group of New York City businessmen who raise $100,000 (1.8 million in today’s dollars) to found the National Life and Limb Insurance Company. The company insured Civil War sailors and soldiers against disabilities due to wartime wounds, accidents, and sickness.
  5. 5. March 24, 1868 The company becomes known as The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and shifts focus to the life insurance business. The first Metropolitan Home Office Building at 243 Broadway, New York City.
  6. 6. 1872 – 1891 Joseph F. Knapp holds the position of president of the Metropolitan. Knapp is also a very well-known philanthropist and an influential supporter of the New York Division of the Civil War veteran organization, the Grand Army of the Republic. (GAR)
  7. 7. Knapp has a special interest in the GAR’s U. S. Grant Post 327, Brooklyn, NY. Among Knapp’s friends is General Ulysses S. Grant who is an honored guest at GAR functions held at Knapp’s Bedford Avenue home in Brooklyn.
  8. 8. Members of U. S. Grant Post 327 would provide an honor guard for General Grant’s funeral in 1885. Among them is George W. Brush, M.D., a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor and Henry W. Knight who helped carry President Lincoln from Ford’s Theatre to the Petersen boarding house (April 14, 1865).
  9. 9. 1879 Knapp brings the European idea of “industrial” or “workingmen’s” insurance to the United States. This form of insurance is issued in small amounts on which premiums are collected weekly or monthly at the policyholder’s home.
  10. 10. 1880 Metropolitan Life Insurance Company policyholders number in excess of 250,000.
  11. 11. Former President and Civil War General U. S. Grant returns from his world tour an international celebrity. He settles in New York City with his wife, Julia, to be near their children. Grant is convinced to invest his money and prestige in the Wall Street firm of Grant & Ward.
  12. 12. May 6, 1884 The firm of Grant & Ward fails as the result of an elaborate Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Grant’s business partner Ferdinand Ward. The Grant family finds itself not only impoverished but in debt. Though the General has no knowledge of the swindle, he feels a responsibility to pay creditors and to find a way to regain his family’s financial stability. He decides to become an author. (Pictured above left to right; U.S. Grant, U.S. Grant, Jr., and Ferdinand Ward)
  13. 13. March 1, 1885 The New York Times announces that General Grant is dying of throat cancer. Attention and sympathy at home and abroad becomes focused on his race with death to complete his memoirs. The first international death watch begins.
  14. 14. Daily newspapers print reports on the General’s condition. Crowds gather outside the Grant home on East 66th Street to offer their respect and support.
  15. 15. June 16, 1885 On the advice of Grant’s physicians, the General accepts family friend Joseph Drexel’s offer to use his summer cottage on Mt. McGregor located in New York’s Adirondack foothills. Record high temperatures in New York City have caused a swift deterioration in Grant’s condition. It is hoped the cooler, drier air of Mt. McGregor will prolong the General’s life. Reporters and crowds of well-wishers follow.
  16. 16. The General dies on July 23rd, 1885 – three days after completing his memoirs. America goes into mourning. Grant’s funeral in New York City on August 8th will be the largest public event in the city’s history until the Armistice of World War I.
  17. 17. On the day of Grant’s death, discussions begin on what to do with the cottage. The cottage’s owner, Joseph Drexel, authorizes a statement “that the cottage will never again be occupied by any family or persons.” The New York Times reports, “It has been proposed that the cottage will be deeded to the government” and that “a fence should be put around it, and that it be preserved about as the Grant family leaves it.”
  18. 18. July 25, 1885 Honoring the March request of Commander Henry M. Calvert of the GAR Brooklyn Post 327, New York GAR Commander H.C. Hall signs special order 118 authorizing the previously unnamed Post 327 to assume the name of “U.S. Grant Post.” The order is co-signed by Assistant Adjutant General O.P. Clarke. Commander Henry M. Calvert
  19. 19. March 1886 Drexel first offers the Cottage to the federal government. A bill is sent to the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds. The Chair of this committee refers the bill to a hostile subcommittee, and it is never allowed to come to a vote.
  20. 20. Photo courtesy of Saratoga Springs History Museum In spite of the government’s inaction on taking ownership of the Cottage, thousands of battle scarred veterans and their families visit the site as an act of personal and collective healing. An 1890 New York Times article estimates that close to 250,000 people have come to Mt. McGregor to pay their respects by the time the Cottage opens as a museum in that year.
  21. 21. Hoping that Grant’s death on Mt. McGregor “would make the place,” landowner and promoter, W.J. Arkell finds that “it killed the place” instead. He observes that visitors “took off their hats and walked around on tiptoes, looking for something I could never find.”
  22. 22. 1887 Joseph Drexel approaches the National GAR to take Drexel Cottage. As the GAR was not created to hold or administer real estate, approval by the New York State Legislature is needed – Drexel dies before approval is achieved.
  23. 23. February 19, 1889 The Mount McGregor Memorial Association is incorporated by the New York State Legislature and accepts title of the Cottage (and a small surrounding area of the grounds). No maintenance funds are provided for the site now known as “Grant Cottage”.
  24. 24. 1889 The Iowa delegate who wore this 1889 National Encampment badge voted on the issue of the caretaker’s salary for Grant Cottage The National GAR Encampment approves $600 ($15,100 in today’s dollars) for the Grant Cottage caretaker’s salary. In addition, funds are donated to purchase and install a furnace for Grant Cottage by GAR Comrade J. Wesley Smith.
  25. 25. Utica attorney and GAR official Oliver Pendleton (O.P.) Clarke is urged by his physicians and friends to take the caretaker’s position in hopes that Clarke would regain some measure of his health (lost as a prisoner-of-war in the infamous Camp Sumter at Andersonville, Georgia).
  26. 26. 1890 Grant Cottage opens as a museum. Tours are conducted by GAR Comrade O.P. Clarke, caretaker (and his wife, Martha Josephine Kelsey Clarke). He will remain caretaker until his death in 1917.
  27. 27. 1891 The National GAR again approaches the federal government to take responsibility for Grant Cottage without success.
  28. 28. John R. Hegeman (left) and Joseph Palmer Knapp (right). 1892 Following the death of his father on September 14, 1891, Joseph Palmer Knapp joins the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company’s Board of Directors. Also upon the elder Knapp’s death, his long-time friend and former Vice President John R. Hegeman becomes the third president of the Metropolitan.
  29. 29. Courtesy of Jean Woutersz, Wilton Town Historian 1892 – 1917 O.P. Clarke supplements his caretaker’s salary within this time period by assisting New York State Senator Edgar T. Brackett with legal work while the Senator runs his law practice without any formal partners. Senator Brackett’s law office is located in Saratoga Springs City Hall.
  30. 30. 1893 The National GAR develops a plan for the support and maintenance of Grant Cottage. It takes the form of a small “head tax” on each GAR member.
  31. 31. 1894 The New York State GAR takes over funding the Mt. McGregor Memorial Association trust (via head tax on New York State GAR veterans), as renewed attempts to interest Congress or the New York State Legislature in taking responsibility for Grant Cottage are again unsuccessful.
  32. 32. May 14, 1896 A bill to appropriate $1,000 ($27,000 in today’s dollars) per year for the maintenance and support of Grant Cottage, to be paid to the Mt. McGregor Memorial Association, passes the New York State Legislature.
  33. 33. 1909 – 1910 The Metropolitan becomes the nation’s largest life insurer. During this period, the Metropolitan makes the decision to build a sanitarium for it’s employees suffering from tuberculosis. A search begins for a suitable building site.
  34. 34. New York State Senator Edgar T. Brackett successfully lobbies Metropolitan officials to build the sanitarium complex on Mt. McGregor.
  35. 35. Photos courtesy of the Orton Collection December 1910 The Metropolitan purchases the property surrounding Grant Cottage (approximately 1200 acres) and begins construction on a tuberculosis sanitarium for its affected employees. The facility begins taking patients in 1913.
  36. 36. 1914 A young Japanese immigrant, Suye Narita, arrives at the sanitarium on Mt. McGregor for treatment of her tuberculosis. She is successfully treated by Dr. Howk, the physician in charge at the facility. Suye will live with the Clarkes at Grant Cottage as their adopted daughter until their deaths, and work at the sanitarium as a librarian and coeditor of the “Metropolitan Optimist.” Photo courtesy of the Orton Collection
  37. 37. 1916 A stone marker affixed with a Grant memorial plaque is erected in front of the eastern elevation of Grant Cottage by the New York Division of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. New York Governor Charles S. Whitman is a speaker at the dedication.
  38. 38. 1917 Martha Clarke, wife of O.P. Clarke, convinces the GAR to allow her to become Grant Cottage’s caretaker following the death of her husband. Photo courtesy of the Upham Collection
  39. 39. 1930 The Metropolitan is insuring every fifth man, woman, and child in the United States. The company finances the construction of the Empire State Building in 1929 and provides the capital to build Rockefeller Center in 1931.
  40. 40. 1941 Martha Clark dies. Suye Narita (later Gambino upon her marriage in 1950) becomes the next caretaker. She will remain the live-in caretaker until her death in 1984. Photo courtesy of the Upham Collection
  41. 41. Photo courtesy of Jean Woutersz 1945 New York State purchases the buildings and grounds of the sanitarium for what would become the Mt. McGregor Sate Veteran Rest Camp. Over the next 14 years 35,000 veterans will be guests at the camp. One Pacific theatre World War II veteran, Anthony Gambino, will stay at the facility to recover from tuberculosis and malaria. Gambino marries Narita and the mountain will remain a part of his life until his death in 1986. Photo courtesy of the Orton Collection
  42. 42. 1957 The Mt. McGregor Memorial Association is dissolved, and New York State takes title of Grant Cottage under the auspices of the State Education Department. The Cottage will remain under the administration of the State Education Department until 1966 when the New York State Historic Trust is established under the director of State Parks. Photo courtesy of the Orton Collection The same year, Governor Averell Harriman proposes repurposing the rest camp as a mental hospital. There is such strong opposition to the idea among veteran organizations that “Harriman retired in some confusion.”
  43. 43. 1960 Early in Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s administration, the old sanitarium/rest camp property is repurposed as an annex to the Rome State School for the Mentally Retarded (later renamed the Wilton School).
  44. 44. Photo courtesy of the Orton Collection February 18, 1971 Grant cottage is added to the National Register of Historic Places.
  45. 45. Photo courtesy of the Orton Collection April 1971 William Tyrrell, chief of historic sites trust management for the New York State Historic Trust, announces he will close Grant Cottage as it “seemed to be a way of reducing expenditures.” Though officially closed, Suye Gambino continues to live upstairs in the Cottage and to give tours when visitors knock.
  46. 46. Photo courtesy of the Orton Collection 1973 Grant Cottage reopens under the administration of the newly created New York State Offices of Parks and Recreation. The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUV) place a flagpole at the Eastern Overlook and continue the tradition of holding an annual May memorial ceremony on the grounds. The SUV is a fraternal organization founded in 1881. They became the legal successors to the GAR when they were incorporated by an Act of Congress in 1954. Their mission is to preserve the history and legacy of Civil War
  47. 47. Photo courtesy of the Orton Collection 1976 The old sanitarium property is yet again repurposed – this time as the Mt. McGregor Work Camp – part of the New York State Department of Corrections (minimum security). By 1981 medium security prisoners are also house at the prison.
  48. 48. End of Part I By Melissa Trombley-Prosch and Jarrod Prescott Edited by Jonathan Duda
  49. 49. Acknowledgements Images used in Part I are from the Trombley-Prosch Collection (including 1889 GAR National Encampment badge, Library of Congress photographs, Gilman photographs - interior & exterior views of Grant Cottage, Harpers Weekly and Frank Leslie images) unless otherwise noted. Additional images from the Orton & Upham Collections, Saratoga Springs History Museum, Jean Woutersz (Wilton Town Historian). Thanks to Michael Prosch, Matt Trombley, Jean Woutersz, and Jerry Orton for their project assistance.
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