question Dwight David Eisenhower's name belongs among the heroes
of the twentieth-century. Most people have heard of his leadership
of Allied invasions of North Africa and France during World
War II, command of NATO's armed forces, and service as president
of the United States from 1953 to 1961.
What is in
question here is this: was Ike a Texan, where he was born, or a
Kansan, where he grew to young adulthood before going off to West
Point in 1911?
And the answer
probably should be that Ike was a citizen of the world who rarely
lived anywhere for long after his graduation from West Point until
his final residence on a farm near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
| President Eisenhower's
Birth Place in Denison
Photo courtesy Jay Goode
That Ike was
born in Denison,
Texas, on October 14, 1890, was confirmed by his mother. When
Ike became famous during the war, Jennie Jackson wrote to ask if
he had been born in Denison.
He responded that he did not know and directed her to his mother,
who said that Ike entered the world in this north Texas railroad
town. Specifically, Ike was born in the front bedroom of a two-story
structure located at the corner of Lamar and Day streets, adjacent
to the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad.
The reason this
blessing came to the Eisenhower's in Denison
was that Ike's father, David J. Eisenhower, worked as a wiper for
the MKT in the Denison
railyards. Within six months of the event the Eisenhower family
returned to Kansas and Ike grew up in Abilene,
which he and others always regarded as his "home town."
Eisenhower's Birth Place
Photo by John Troesser
his birthplace three times: first, in 1946 while still in the Army;
in 1952 while campaigning for the presidency; and in 1965, just
four years before his death. To modern visitors, Ike's presence
is pervasive. From the nine-foot statue of Eisenhower in his WWII
uniform, which greets visitors in the yard, through photos and artifacts
which occupy every room, the visitor is reminded of the era in which
Ike was born.
Texas has only
two "presidential" birthplaces -- Ike's and LBJ's
-- and both are historical
parks. After the war the Gold Star Mothers cared for Ike's natal
cradle. In 1952, the Eisenhower Birthplace Foundation was organized
by the late Sid Richardson. The foundation acquired the property
in 1955, restored it, and reopened it to the public in 1958. Presently
it is operated by Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.
The railroad tracks
are gone, save for a replica to indicate their nearness to the house
over 100 years ago. Too bad. But regardless if Ike was born on the
"right" or the "wrong" side of them, the "tracks" he made across American
and world history make this an important place in East
All Things Historical
MARCH 18-24, 2001Column
A syndicated column in over 70 East Texas newspapers
(Archie P. McDonald is Director of the East Texas Historical Association
and author or editor of over 20 books on Texas)
Texas | Texas
Towns | Texas State Parks
| Columns |