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Elihu Washburne Home

If the presidential and congressional history of Aldrich Guest House isn't enough to satisfy your penchant for the past, a visit two doors down to the Washburne House is exactly what you need!

Built by Elihu Washburne in 1843 and expanded in 1859 to its current size, the Washburne House holds a special place in the history of both Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. Washburne himself was a Republican congressman, an advisor to both Lincoln and Grant, as well as Ambassador to France under the Grant Administration during the Franco-Prussian War.
On election night 1868, Grant was at the Washburne House. A telegraph line had been run from the train depot to the house so that the vote totals were obtained ‘live' as they were announced. J. Russell Jones, who built part of our house and was also a congressman was there with Grant. As we all know, Grant won the election. Jones then rode with Grant from Galena to Washington, D.C. for the inauguration.
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Washburne was also instrumental in a protective force for the president due to the concerns he had with the threats that Lincoln was receiving. The Secret Service was initially created to prevent money fraud, however states were converting to a single national currency. This allowed the Secret Service's efforts to be redirected to protecting the president.
Perhaps Washburne's greatest accomplishment is protecting the thousands that were displaced during the Franco-Prussian War. He and J. Russell Jones, who was Minister to Belgium, worked with the French and the Germans to provide for the humane treatment of refugees including food and shelter. Additionally, messages passed through them that lead to negotiations that contributed to and end of the war.

Adele Washburne

Adele Washburne, Elihu's wife, had close ties to the Winnebago tribe native to the area. At her birth, the white midwives believed that Adele would not survive. A Native American midwife was able to nurse her back to health starting a lifelong relationship with the native people. In the house are paintings of Adele playing with the Native American children and there are stories that she would accompany the tribe on hunts and in other ceremonies. Perhaps one of the most telling instances of her gratitude to the indigenous people is when she opened her land for the tribe to build a makeshift camp during the Blackhawk War. Additionally, during an extremely cold period that winter, she opened her home to any of the tribe who needed the extra warmth. 
Today, the home is owned by the State of Illinois and is able to be toured. You can see the entire downstairs including the double parlor, the dining room, the library where Grant received the news that he was elected president, as well as the kitchen. Upstairs you can see the bedrooms as well as an example of how rooms were laid-out in the mid-1800s. Donations are accepted with tours being led Friday and Saturday from 10am until 1pm May through October which are led by the Galena Belles Chapter of the International Order of Questers.
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Once you've finished exploring all of the history Galena has to offer, come back and enjoy a drink and hors d'oeuvres, included with every reservation.  While the house has hosted many important figures in the past, none are as important as our guests!
Robert and Douglas, Innkeepers


Planning a visit to Galena, Illinois? Make your reservation with us now to experience what makes us the next generation of bed and breakfasts. Afterall, if you're not staying at Aldrich Guest House, you haven't experienced the best Galena has to offer!

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