About this Famous Person
James A. GARFIELD
20th President of the United States
Source : Tim DOWLING
James Garfield was born the youngest of five children, in a log cabin in Orange Township, now Moreland Hills, Ohio. His father, Abram Garfield, known locally as a wrestler, died when Garfield was 17 months old. Of Welsh ancestry, he was reared and cared for by his mother, Eliza Ballou, who said, "He was the largest babe I had and looked like a red Irishman." Garfield's parents joined Disciples of Christ Church, which profoundly influenced their son. Garfield was able to receive rudimentary education at a village school in Orange, listening and discussing books read. Garfield knew he needed money to advance his learning.
At age 16, he struck out on his own, drawn seaward by dreams of being a seaman, and got a job for six weeks as a canal driver near Cleveland. Illness forced him to return home and, once recuperated, he began school at Geauga Seminary, where he became keenly interested in academics, both learning and teaching. Garfield worked as a carpenter to support himself financially at the Seminary., Garfield later said of this early time, "I lament that I was born to poverty, and in this chaos of childhood, seventeen years passed before I caught any inspiration...a precious 17 years when a boy with a father and some wealth might have become fixed in manly ways." In 1849, he accepted an unsought position as a teacher, and thereafter developed an aversion to what he called "place seeking," which became, he said, "the law of my wife." In 1850 Garfield resumed his church attendance and was baptized.