The area in which the Cottage is located was, in that era, a very expensive resort for the Gilded Age rich, who arrived via a private bridge railway from Saratoga Springs. The resort was lit at night by that new-fangled electric light. Powered by generators, the lights went off then, at ten PM, because the generated noise kept people from sleeping. The resort was just a short walking distance from the Cottage.
In agony from the throat and tongue cancer that was Grant's death sentence, he completed his Personal Memoirs of the Mexican American War and the War of the Rebellion there. He was dead less than week after finishing.
Half of the contents in the huge jar of his cocaine solution, with re-crystalized by now cocaine on the bottom, remains in the cottage. All the furnishings, including the paintings and photos on the walls, are original to what Julia and the patron to who provided the Cottage put up there in 1885, when his doctors urged them to leave hot dirty NYC for the cooler, damper air of the Adirondacks. All that summer Grant, with the same inexplicable, calm courage with which he defeated the CSA, battled to stay alive long enough to complete the Memoirs, which Mark Twain assured him would support his wife and family handsomely for the rest of their lives. Recall, Grant had not only gone broke, but deeply in debt when his son's financial company, turned out to be his lying partner Ferdinand Ward's Ponzi scheme, financed entirely by President Grant's name.
After his death, Grant's doctor said that his patient could never have lived so long if he had also imbibed the morphine prescribed for such agony. But he didn't because it would fuzz out his mind, sap his will, on his determined drive to finish the book.
This is the famous photo of Grant, finishing the Memoirs, in his chair on the corner of the veranda, outside his office, where most of the work, particularly the editing work by Mark Twain, took place.
I cannot believe I have stood there.
I knew all this but seeing the place was deeply affecting. For years I've poured over the photographs of Grant and his family on the veranda of the Cottage. Grant wrote a great deal on one of the corner's of the veranda. There are photos of him in the chair there, the chair that still exists. There are hand-written pages by him on view, and so many other items involved with the composition of the Memoirs. Material bits and pieces of the celebrated do not hold much intrinsic interest for me, but these things, o they did!
And at the end, we viewed the bed where he died. Above the headboard hung and still hangs his personal portrait of President Lincoln.
I choked up. Shed tears.