Her parents were Frederick Dent and Ellen Wrenshall Dent. Her birth name was Julia Boggs Dent. She was born at a plantation near St. Louis, Missouri.
After her schooling, she and Ulysses S. Grant got engaged in 1844. At that time, Ulysses S. Grant was a Lieutenant in the US Army. In the meanwhile, Mexican War began. Ulysses went to war. He returned from the war after many years. They married in 1848.