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The Cromwell House Hotel

posted Jul 20, 2017, 7:57 AM by James Nennemann
by Sandra Folkes Bengtson

I’m sure that many residents of Sidney take a look at the large house located at the corner of Indiana and Webster Streets that is north of our fire station, and just see an old run down house in need of repair. However, many do not realize the history it holds.

This house is one of the oldest structures in Sidney, being built about 1856. It was built on the north side of the Sidney Square as a hotel and originally called “The Cromwell House”. Stephen T. Cromwell maintained a rooming house in Austin, prior to moving to Sidney. The Cromwell House is the 2nd hotel he built in Sidney, as the first one was a wood structure built in 1852 on the west side of the square, where the present day Sidney Hotel building stands. 

In the later 1890’s, most of The Cromwell House was moved 1 block east and 1 block north, to its present location in order to build the large buildings which the north block of the square once housed. The hotel changed management many times over the years and was known by many different names prior to becoming a private residence. 

The Historical Society possesses two guest registers for the house. The first book starts in 1858. On Monday, May 9, 1870, the name of “U S Grant” is written in the book, residing at “D C USA”. Over the years I have heard comments from other historical society members wondering if this could actually be President Grant?” I decided to do some research on this myself. 

The signature in the book matches exactly a signature of Grant pulled off the internet. Registering at the same time with Grant were Richard Yates of Illinois and Benjamin F. Butler of Massachusetts. I searched the internet to see if these men had any connection to Grant. Butler served with Grant in the Union Army and then assisted Grant with matters during his presidency. After Grant became president, he appointed Yates as a United States commissioner to inspect a land subsidy railroad. So possibly the politicians were here for a study on our prospective railroad system?

There are no newspapers writings or any person here today that can verify President Grant was here. Nor any way to know what his business was in Fremont County, if he was here. I have found the last few years that a good share of genealogy research is detective work and developing theories. The facts, clues and theories add up. There is no doubt in my mind that the U.S. Grant signature in the Cromwell House Register, was that of President Ulysses S. Grant.