Belfast & Northern Ireland

Tyrone farmer John Simpson (b. 1738) lived in this small, whitewashed cottage until, aged 22, he emigrated to the American Colonies.

Simpson and his wife Hannah had one daughter, also Hannah, who married Jess Root Grant and, in 1822, had a son - Hiram Ulysses Grant - the eldest of six children.

It was while entering West Point Military Academy that the young recruit was erroneously called Ulysses S. Grant.

He tried to get it corrected, but the name stuck. The 'S' stood for Simpson... keeping his Ulster links alive.

During the American Civil War, General Grant accepted the surrender from Confederate General Lee and, in 1869, became America's 18th President.

Grant succeeded fellow Ulster-Scot Andrew Jackson and served two terms.

Grant died in 1885 aged 63 and is buried alongside his wife Julia in the General Grant National Memorial, Manhattan.

His grandfather's home has been restored to that of a typical 19th Century cottage.

Inside, the main room is dominated by a large turf fire, and the original mud wall can be seen in the bedroom.

An outhouse includes a small Civil War exhibition, and outside is a selection of 19th Century farming equipment and the occasional roaming hen.

Surrounding fields are landscaped with play & picnic areas and a Wildlife Garden for budding Attenboroughs.

If the weather's good, it's a nice spot to take time out from the 21st century and lose yourself in the rural heartland. Delightful.

  • From Belfast, take M1, then A4 to Ballygawley roundabout. Continue ahead until you see the brown sign. Turn left and follow lane to the Cottage.

Admisson is free as there is no full-time staff on site, though a groundsman lives in adjoining premises and keeps the place looking neat and tidy.


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Ann Simpson was by John Simpson Jr's 2nd wife Sarah Hare
Bill Coomer

According to a NY Times article published on February 9, 1880 based on an article from the Reading Times dated Feb 7, John Simpson and Rebecca Weir had 4 children named Robert, Samuel, Mary, and Hannah. After Rebecca died, John Simpson married Sarah Hair who had one child named Ann. Robert Simpson married Rebecca Lyons in Tennessee in 1800, and died around 1816-1817 on a British prison ship in Ontario after General Hull surrendered Detroit to the British in August of 1812. This is from his daughter's (Margaret Simpson Lisenby) obituary and from war records.
John Simpson Guthrie, Jr.

The information about the "Grant Simpson" ancestral homestead has skipped a generation. John Simpson was born here in 1738 and died in Pennsylvania in 1804 (note that US Grant was born in 1822), married Hannah Roberts in 1762 in Philadelphia. Their children were: John Simpson, Jr (1767 - 1837) and Hannah Simpson(1770 - ?).John Simpson, Jr. married Rebecca Weir in 1793 and they had five children, Mary, Samuel, Hannah, Sarah, and Ann. Hannah married Jesse Grant in 1821 and they were the parents of US Grant (nee Hiram Ulysses), as well as Samuel, Rachel, Virginia, Orville, and Mary.
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