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The Garfield Trail
of Ohio

The mission of the Garfield Trail is to preserve and promote the legacy of James A. Garfield and his family at the four main sites affiliated with him in northeast Ohio (Moreland Hills Birthplace, Hiram College, James A. Garfield National Historic Site, and Lake View Cemetery) through advocacy, service, and philanthropy.

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President James A. Garfield

James Abram Garfield was born in Orange Township, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, on November 19, 1831, the last of five children to Abram and Eliza Ballou Garfield. He was the last of the “log cabin presidents.” He attended district school, and left home at age 16 to become a mule driver and helmsman on the Ohio and Erie Canal. He attended the Geauga Seminary in Chester Township, Ohio, 1849-1850, where he first met Lucretia Rudolph from Garrettsville, Ohio.

He continued his studies at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute in Hiram, Ohio, from 1851-1854. This was the second time he crossed paths with Lucretia. They took an interest in one another while attending the same classical courses. James continued work towards his B.A. degree at Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, where he graduated with honors at the top of his class in June 1856. WREI hired him as a professor of ancient languages and mathematics, then made him principal (college president) in 1857. He was also an itinerant preacher for the Disciples of Christ Church. He and Lucretia married at the Rudolph home in Hiram on November 11, 1858. They were parents to seven children, five of which grew to adulthood (four sons, one daughter).

His diverse career included:

  • Ohio state senator, 1859-1861

  • Lawyer, beginning in 1860; first case before U.S. Supreme Court

  • Union Army, Lt. Colonel to Major General – Ohio Volunteer Infantry, 1861-1863

  • U.S. House of Representatives, Republican-20th District of Ohio, December 1863-November 1880

  • Trustee, Smithsonian Institution

  • Selected as the next U.S. Senator from Ohio, January 1880 (never seated)

  • 20th U.S. President, March 4, 1881-September 19, 1881 


James A. Garfield was assassinated, July 2, 1881, at the Baltimore and Potomac Railway Station in Washington, D.C. He lingered through the summer at the Executive Mansion (White House), under the care of numerous doctors led by Dr. Willard Bliss. He was moved to Elberon (Long Branch), New Jersey in early September where it was hoped that the sea air would be restorative to the president’s health. He died there on September 19, 1881 – having been in office only six months.


He is interred in the Garfield Memorial at Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio.

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