Located just 70 miles north of Dallas near the Oklahoma border, Denison thrived as a railroad town in the 1880’s as a stop on the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (KATY) Railroad. It was a railroad job that brought Eisenhower’s parents, David and Ida, to the town in 1889. The couple already had two boys, Dwight, their third child, would be born in 1890. The Eisenhowers lived in Denison only three years, returning to Kansas when Dwight was just a toddler. Ironically, Dwight Eisenhower did not even know he was born in Denison until mid-life. A Denison teacher, Ms Jennie Jackson, thought she remembered the Eisenhowers, and discovered the family’s link to the town by combing through old city records. Following World War II, the local community bought the house where Dwight Eisenhower was born and that his family had rented while living in Texas. Eisenhower visited Denison for the first time as an adult in 1946 having breakfast with community leaders and Ms Jackson at his birthplace home.
The Texas Historical Commission now operates the site. Eisenhower’s Birthplace in Denison has a small collection of Eisenhower memorabilia including a painting by the President. A film in the visitor’s center provides a short history of President Eisenhower’s life and legacy. The docent lead home tour is well worth the admission cost. The knowledgeable guides paint a picture of Denison life in the 1890s, and share a wealth of information about the challenges Eisenhower’s parents faced in those early years when David, Ike’s father, worked for the KATY railroad.
Eisenhower’s Birthplace (609 S. Lamar, Denison, 903/465-8908) is open Tuesday – Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults and $3 for students. There are picnic grounds next to the visitors’ center.