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DEERFIELD — “Heritage is History squared,” according to Ulysses S. Grant's portrayer.
Dr. E.C. Fields, Jr., played Civil War Commander Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant (and later 18th president of the United States) July 17 at Deerfield Township Cemetery, where Grant's grandmother, Rachel Kelly Grant, is buried.
Rachel Grant was born in June 1746 and died April 5, 1805. She came to Deerfield in 1804 with her husband, Noah and seven children. Her husband set up a tannery west of Deerfield Circle and lived in a home built by Owen Brown of Hudson.
On the marker, Rachel was “known for her spinning.”
Fields, as Grant, discussed his humble roots.
“I come from humble stock,” he said. “Rachel was a woman of the Ohio frontier. She worked hard and did her best.”
“Grant” then placed flowers on her grave — and encouraged children not to simply read about history, but to take opportunities to live it.
“Bringing the little ones speaks well of you,” Grant [Fields] said. “For the little ones are the future of our past. Take them everywhere you can where there is history.”
Fields said history is one dimensional on a page.
“Learn it, read it and know it, but heritage is history squared,” Grant [Fields] said. “Heritage is right here where you can come and stand with my grandmother. You can visit the cemetery and honor an ancestor whose blood flows through my veins.”“
Heritage, he added, is visiting Vicksburg, Gettysburg and Shiloh and 10,000 reported battle sites in the 48 months of the Civil War.
“Ohio acquitted itself well during the Civil War,” Grant [Fields] said. “Be proud of the people you came from.”
The event was sponsored by the James A. Garfield Civil War Round Table, which hosted Grant at the Big Red Barn in Valley View for “An Evening with General Grant.”
Sally Sampson, secretary of the Deerfield Township Historical Society, said Commander Benjamin Frayser of the Garfield Civil War Round Table contacted them about the ceremony, and they were happy to make arrangements.
After visiting the cemetery, “Grant” visited the Township Square and the Civil War memorial. He suggested the historical society research the 20 names on the monument and find out more about them, especially the three men with the same last name who died in different battles.
The historical society surprised Grant [Fields] with a visit to a red brick home south of the Township Square where the Grants lived in the building which was reported to have been built by Owen Brown of Hudson. Heather and John Larkin have lived in the home for 19 years and discovered five fireplaces, black walnut floors and a brick walkway beneath the grass.
Fields is a living historian and has appeared as Grant at remembrance ceremonies and reenactments across the country, including the James A Garfield National Historic Site (Mentor, Ohio), Gettysburg, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Appomattox Court House and for the Discovery Channel.
Fields is a member of numerous historical societies and foundations, and contributes to several Civil War publications. His website is GeneralGrantbyHimself.com
The James A Garfield Civil War Round Table was founded in 2015 with a commitment to share and expand members' passion, knowledge, and understanding of the American Civil War. The Round Table serves communities of Southeastern Cuyahoga County as co-host of the annual Garfield Symposium, with participation in local history fairs, donations of winter-weather protective clothing to local homeless shelters and preparing United States flags for proper retirement.
The round table is named in honor of President James A. Garfield, a native of Cuyahoga County and a Civil War veteran, attaining the rank of major general. Information on the activities or membership participation can be requested fromJamesAGarfieldCWRT@gmail.com