Orcutt home at 550 S 26th Avenue, Omaha, NE. Photograph by Louis Bostwick taken November 1903 on the occasion of Jane Orcutt’s Debut into Society. Handwriting from Anna Jane Beaton Hyde, granddaughter of Clinton Orcutt.

Family historians research every aspect of their ancestor’s lives, including where they lived. We search for addresses by following a paper trail: census records, directories, land deeds, tax records, and newspaper articles. Once we have an address, we google it to determine if the house still exists. If it doesn’t, we might be fortunate enough to discover old photographs. Two of my favorite ancestoral families, the Orcutts and Beatons, left behind a generous paper trail. Compelled by a treasure trove of pictures, records, and newspaper articles, I decided to explore the Clinton and Anna (Dutton) Orcutt house in Omaha, Nebraska – in detail.

My maternal great-grandmother, Edith (Orcutt) Beaton, spent her first seven years in the sleepy rural village of Durant, Iowa – population 500. Then, in the fall of 1887 the Orcutt family packed their belongings and moved 300 miles west to Omaha, Nebraska – population 125,000. By 1890 the population had grown to 140,000.


Listed below are the Orcutt family members who moved to Omaha. Scroll through the picture gallery to view their photos. Sadly, there are no photographs that survived of Louis DeForest Orcutt, the eldest son who died four years after the family moved to Omaha.

  • Clinton Delos Orcutt (1840-1905)
  • Anna Dorcas (Dutton) Orcutt (1842-1899)
  • Louis Deforest Orcutt (1871-1891
  • Marion Edith Orcutt (1879-1964)
  • Anna Ri Orcutt (1881-1942)
  • Jane Clare “Jennie” Orcutt (1884-1918)


Panoramic View of Omaha -Austen, Edward J, and Jefferson Bee Publishing Company. Panoramic view of Omaha. [Jefferson Iowa Bee Publishing Co, 1905] Map.

Between 1870 and 1900, Omaha developed from a frontier railroad center to a regional metropolis.[1] From a business standpoint, the city oozed potential. It had a new Union Pacific railroad hub, manufacturing plants, mills, stockyards, and packing houses. From a cultural perspective, Omaha offered arts and sciences, schools, higher education institutions, and churches. Noted as the “Gate City of the West,” Omaha is located nearly midway between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and about 500 miles from Denver, St. Louis, and Chicago.

The 1890 Omaha city directory described the city in glowing terms.

“Upon entering Omaha, we find ourselves treading finely paved streets and surrounded by a busy throng of active, energetic people, substantial and elegant buildings on every side, stores filled with goods from every climate, and all the appliances of modern civilization. The streets are broad, clean, well lighted and many of them excellently paved with granite, Colorado sandstone, asphaltum, or cedar or cypress blocks, making them fine driveways and roadways.

Shade trees abound on the residence streets, protecting the pedestrian from the summer sun -seventy-three miles of sewer and good drainage. City well lighted with gas and electric lights. Public squares and parks abound.”[2]

Glimpses of Omaha- "Omaha Illustrated: A History of the Pioneer Period and the Omaha of Today", 1888.
Glimpses of Omaha- “Omaha Illustrated: A History of the Pioneer Period and the Omaha of Today”, 1888.

I found another description that portrayed a less appealing side of Omaha. In 1888, Frisby Rasp, a Nebraska farm boy, moved to Omaha to attend business college. His letters to his family may reflect how Edith Orcutt and her family felt when they first moved to the big city. Frisby was overwhelmed by the crowds and anonymity. “If 2/3 of the country people could see Omaha they would open there [sic] eyes as if they had been thunderstruck. It has the most noise and rattle to it I ever saw…” He also found the city to be filthy by a country boy’s standards. “I guess there ain’t any end to Omaha, at least I can’t find any. You can walk till you are tired out any direction you choose, and the houses are as thick as ever…Everything is coal smoke and dirt and people. It is dusty just as soon as it quits raining, and the dust is the worst dust I ever saw. It is all stone and manure. Streets that ain’t paved, two feet deep of mud.”[3] Another disturbing aspect for Frisby was the vice in Omaha. “Every other store is a saloon. This is an awful wicked town. The saloons run on Sunday and most all work goes right on.” In 1888, Omaha boasted 300 saloons. According to Frisby, “…even the local newspapers claimed that if you shut down all the saloons, brothels, and tobacco shops, half of Omaha’s business would be gone…I never want to live in the city. It is the worst place in the world to live.”[4] Frisby rented a room near the Union Pacific Depot, an area not as genteel as the neighborhood the Orcutts chose.


Based on newspaper articles, I knew in 1886 Clinton Orcutt began building a spacious house in Omaha, Nebraska. Researching the deed records required that either I travel to Omaha or find a professional geneaolgist to do the research. So I decided to splurge. I referred to the website for the Association of Professional Genealogists and quickly found a very thorough and professional researcher and genealogist. A sound decision.

Lewis, S. 2021. Research Report: Beaton and Orcutt Homes. History Walks LLC. Sanborn Map Company, (1890). Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Omaha, Douglas and Sarpy County, Nebraska. Vol 2 [Map] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

When Clinton Orcutt decided to build a new home in Omaha, he chose two lots in an area known as Clarks Addition or Clarks St. Mary’s Addition, a largely undeveloped area in the city.[5] Clinton purchased lot 9 from Isaac Congdon (a lawyer) for $4,000 on September 8, 1886. Three days later, on September 11, 1886 he purchased lot 10 from Charles C. Housel (real estate agent) and his wife for $5,000. [6] Unfortunately, the genealogist could not locate information regarding the building costs on the property. The city of Omaha destroyed older building permits in the 1990’s.[7]

Initally, I thought the Orcutt home at 550 S 26th Avenue was located in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Omaha. According to Adam Fletcher, who writes a blog about North Omaha History,the new Gold Coast was the nouveau riche flexing their muscles.”[7] It contained two distinct neighborhoods within its boundaries: the Blackstone neighborhood and the Cathedral neighborhood.

“Houses had all kinds of spectacular features, including three -and four- story towers and spectacular flower gardens on the outsides. Yards were often ringed with iron fencing and served by regal driveways where coaches and drivers could gracefully haul their charges to the next location. The insides of these homes with even more elaborate furnishings, all reflecting the opulence and splendor of the Gilded Age. Woods from exotic places, fine handmade woodworking; elaborate stained glass leaded windows; beautiful silk wall tapestries; Tiffany Lamp Fixtures; and exquisite rugs filled these homes. On an average, when a fine home had six or ten rooms in two stories, these mansions had 20 and 30 rooms in three and four stories. These all had large coach houses, often two stories tall with enough room to accommodate their horses, carriages, and buggies.”[8]

Orcutt home at 550 S 26th and the Gold Coast Historic District, Google Maps.

The Gold Coast lies to the north of the Orcutt home. Clinton may have thought that Clarks Addition would develop into similar high-end real estate. After all, he’d made his fortune buying and selling real estate in Iowa and Nebraska. The area had potential at the time.

Using Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps provided details I previously overlooked regarding Clinton Orcutt’s property. When he purchased two lots, he built two houses plus a carriage house.[9] The larger home served as the Orcutt family residence. The smaller six-room cottage at 554 S 26th Avenue may have been intended as a “mother-in-law” house. Although Clinton’s mother had passed away, Anna’s widowed mother was still alive in 1886. Thanks to a suggestion from the professional genealogist, I examined Omaha city directories for the address “550 S. 26th” to determine who lived in the smaller home from 1886-1910. The occupants were not family members nor domestic servants who worked for the Orcutts. City directories revealed that Clinton rented the home to various tenants, none remaining longer than two years – single men, single women, and occasionally a married couple.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Omah, Douglas and Sarpy County, Nebraska. Image 20, 1901.,0.595,1.662,0.822,0

Many of the wealthy hired Omaha’s finest architects to custom design their homes. I don’t know if that is the case for Clinton Orcutt’s residence. However, the Orcutt home did receive notice in a book published in 1888 that featured prominent Omaha residences, “Omaha Illustrated: A History of the Pioneer Period and the Omaha of Today.”[10] Included in the book is the image depicted below. I am thrilled to have discovered the only known photograph that clearly shows the Orcutt’s home. The home is also listed amongst the notable residences in “Born Rich: A Historical Book of Omaha”, published in 1978.[11]

“Omaha Illustrated: A History of the Pioneer Period and the Omaha of Today,” (Omaha, Nebraska, D.C. Dunbar & Co. Publishers, 1888; digital images, ( : accessed 20 April 2021), p.110.

The Orcutt’s three-story house embodied the popular Victorian Queen Anne architecture; it included a steep roofline, an ornamental chimney, irregular angles, a tower, shapely windows – including a bay window – and an expansive wrap-around porch with decorative trim, railings, and posts. Unfortunately, black and white photographs don’t reveal the color of the Orcutt home, but Queen Anne architecture typically featured rich tertiary colors.

  • “Body: one or two strong colors (usually different for clapboards and shingles)
  • Trim: a color unifying the body colors. Often a different accent color was used for decorative features.
  • Sash: the darkest color on the house: dark green, deep brown, black, deep red, maroon, chocolate, deep umber.”[12]


The home’s interior reflected Victorian style, orderly with detailed ornamentation, yet unique and rambling with multiple bedrooms, second-floor balconies, double doors, and ornate stairways.

A visitor to the Orcutt home first encountered the expansive entrance hall. Traditionally, the front hall included a hall stand, chairs, and a card receiver for calling cards. The stand provided space for hats, coats, parasols, and umbrellas. Hall chairs offered a seat for messengers or unexpected guests who awaited instructions.

“[Illustrations]: Decorative Chart for a Hall; Decorative Chart for a Parlor.” The Decorator and Furnisher, vol. 17, no. 6, 1891, pp. 206–207. JSTOR, Accessed 11 Feb. 2021.

The Orcutt reception/entrance hall must have been impressive. For formal events, the ample space served as an ideal location to place an orchestra. “An orchestra was stationed in the large reception hall, screened by large palms.”[13] In the two photographs below you can see a portion of the entrance hall. The grand staircase is on the left with Anna Ri on her wedding day. On the right, Edith Orcutt Beaton is standing in the palm filled hallway on the occasion of her sister Jane’s wedding. Directly behind Edith is a portrait of her sister Anna Ri Orcutt. I wrote about the painting in another blog about Orcutt family portraits.

Newspaper articles from the Omaha Daily Bee and the Omaha World-Herald described the Orcutt home with the following adjectives: comfortable, commodious, spacious, beautiful, and handsome. I gleaned snippets of information from the newspapers about the types of rooms, their function, and decorative features. For example, the ground floor had a drawing-room, a music room with a piano, a west parlor, an expansive rear parlor with a “bow window,” a dining room, and the grand staircase. Wide doorways separated the parlors, the latter accented with fancy mantles. The “capacious” drawing-room provided sufficient space to host large numbers of guests. On several occasions, the Orcutt’s invited 300 guests to special events, such as the Christmas party they hosted in December 1900.

“In honor of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Beaton [Edith Orcutt Beaton and her husband Alfred Beaton], Mr. Orcutt gave a reception on Tuesday evening to about 300 guests. Though she does not make her debut until next season, Miss Anna Ri assisted her father, presiding with a dignity that would reflect credit upon a much older and experienced hostess.

The house was elaborately decorated with holiday greens, palms, and smilax. In the doorways were suspended Christmas bells with clappers of holly berries and mistletoe. The stairway in the hall was festooned with evergreen and bows of red ribbon, while tall palms formed a screen behind which the orchestra played during the evening.”[14]

When the three sisters, Edith, Anna Ri, and Jane Clare, reached the appropriate age, they acted as hostesses for social events to practice their future roles as mistresses of their own homes. Fifteen- year-old Edith appeared in the Omaha Daily Bee in 1895, when she served as hostess at a luncheon for her young friends.

“A Dainty Pink Luncheon – One of the prettiest luncheons was given by Miss Edith Orcutt last Tuesday in honor of her guest, Mrs. T.G. Wear of Topeka. Cover [places] were laid for sixteen. The table decorations were beautiful. The centerpiece was prettily embroidered in wild roses and the cut glass vases at each end of the table and in the center were filled with fragrant blush roses. The menu consisted of eight delicious courses. The house throughout was decorated with palms and pink roses. The young ladies made a charming picture in their dainty, fairylike summer gowns.”[15]

Researching the Orcutt family produced a wealth of information, as they frequently appeared in the society columns. These included the weddings of the Orcutt sisters. All three events took place in the Orcutt home, beautifully decorated for the special ceremonies.

Of the three sisters, I could only find evidence that Jane Clare actually made a formal debut into society. Described as “an exquisitely pretty girl,” her debut in 1903 made the Society News. Photographed by Louis Ray Bostwick, Jane’s Debut Album showcased the young woman in the Orcutt family home. What a bonanza for my research!

A professional photographer captured the Orcutt daughter’s weddings, including images of the gifts elegantly displayed in the upstairs room. Preserved for over 100 years, these albums provide a glimpse into the Orcutt home and family history.

Based on the pictures, I know the formal dining room included the following:

  • Ornate dark wood furniture
  • Paneled walls
  • Wallpaper with wide decorative borders near the ceiling
  • Stained glass windows
  • Tasseled draperies
  • A gas chandelier
  • A corner cabinet filled with china and crystal

“A formal dining room ensured enjoyable meals. A library stocked well with books and with a sprawling fireplace provided comfort and warmth. Spacious parlors located throughout a home provided occupants with formal living areas for welcoming guests. Parlors usually featured ostentatious decors such as tasseled draperies, dark wood, fireplaces with fancy mantles, and gilded wainscoting.”[16]

The most important rooms in the house were the parlors, as they served as showcases for the homeowners to entertain their guests. The Orcutt parlors, decorated in dark woods, such as mahogany and walnut, featured oversized cozy chairs, oriental rugs, window coverings made of thick heavy fabrics, valances, swags and tassels, candelabras, and multi-light chandeliers ornamented with porcelain and glass shades. “A bare room was considered to be in poor taste, so every surface was filled with objects that reflected the owner’s interests and aspirations.”[17] The Orcutt’s decorated their home with marble figures, artwork, potted plants, and flower-filled vases.

The second floor of the Orcutt home included individual bedrooms for each of the six family members. Anna and Clinton Orcutt had separate bedrooms. Additional rooms included a library, a sitting room and a “modern” bathroom and lavatory for the family members.

“In wealthier homes, the toilet was often in a room by itself, in a corner, or an anteroom with a door. The room itself was always relegated to the bedroom floor, above the parlor floor, away from the public rooms of the house. Many houses had a servant’s toilet off the kitchen, often outside in a shed, or in an attic.[18]

Photographs from the family albums show that the second-story had spacious rooms but with lower ceilings than the ground floor. Oriental rugs draped the floors, lace curtains covered the windows, and lightly patterned wallpaper decorated the walls. Furniture included a carved four-poster bed and walnut or mahogany dressers. Although the images focus on the wedding gifts, they still provide the viewer with a glimpse into the upper rooms of the Orcutt house.


Newspapers never mentioned the behind-the-scenes aspects of how the Orcutt’s managed their household, but I know that servants performed the daily tasks. Society ladies did not engage in household chores. Based on the 1900 census, the Orcutts employed two female servants, one nanny, and a coachman. Female servants probably slept on the third floor, but the coachman likely had a room in the carriage house or the basement.

Unfortunately, I could only refer to the 1900 census for information regarding the Orcutts and their servants. Census records, a valuable resource for family historians, are only available every ten years. The 1890 census records were destroyed in a fire, and by 1910, the Orcutt family no longer lived at 550 South 26th Avenue. I used the tip from the professional genealogist to search Omaha city directories for just the address to learn more about the Orcutt’s domestic help. Searching a directory for an address instead of a name did not yield results for every year. However, I did confirm that the Orcutt family employed two female domestic staff and one coachman. Not surprisingly, the staff changed about every two years.

1900 United States Federal Census for Clinton Orcutt and his household. [19]

  • Clinton Orcutt – head of household – age 59 (widower) – birthplace, Illinois – Capitalist
  • Edith Orcutt Beaton – daughter – age 24 – birthplace, Iowa – no profession listed
  • Anna Ri Orcutt – daughter – age 19 – birthplace, Iowa – no profession listed
  • Jennie C Orcutt – daughter – age 16 – birthplace, Iowa – At School
  • Alfred Beaton – son-in-law – age 26 – birthplace, Canada – Merchant, carpets
  • Baby Beaton (Phillip Orcutt Beaton) – grandson – age one month – birthplace, Nebraska
  • Anna Winter – servant – age 21 – birthplace, Pennsylvania – domestic servant
  • Maggie Oflatherty – servant – age 24 – birthplace, Illinois – domestic servant
  • Emil Anderson – servant – age 26 – birthplace Sweden – coachman
  • Dora Dart – servant – age 27 – birthplace, Missouri – Nurse (nanny)
Phillip Orcutt Beaton with his Nurse (Nanny), Dora Dart, 1901.

The 1900 census didn’t list a cook living at the residence, but I know the Orcutt family employed one. Finding the right cook could be challenging. The Orcutts advertised for “a good cook” in 1896, 1897, 1898, and 1899.[20]

“Wanted a good cook. Mrs. Orcutt, 550. S 26th St.” Omaha World-Herald, July 1898.

The kitchens of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were the domain of the staff. As the mistress of the home, Anna Orcutt dictated menus and managed the budget. She did not cook the meals nor clean the house. Accordingly, the kitchen would have been functional but not as ornate as the rest of the house.

“The late Victorian kitchen had the latest in modern appliances. A cast iron stove, able to cook and bake, often connected to a hot water heater that would feed into the sink and piped to bring hot water to the bathrooms. The sink was a large porcelain surface on sturdy legs with hot and cold running water from taps, not pumps. A large work table was usually in the middle of the room, which served as both work space and eating table for the staff.

Wealthier homes had iceboxes, lead-lined cupboards with a block of ice below keeping food cool in a compartment above. There was usually a pantry, a closet with shelves and built-in cupboards for storing foodstuffs, dishes and pots. Often there was also a built-in cupboard in the actual kitchen, or a butler’s pantry, either in the hallway leading to the dining room, or a separate room next to the kitchen where servers could do final prep work on the dish before serving.

Very wealthy families might have a locked silver room, and a larger butler’s pantries. Lighting to the kitchen was supplied by generous windows, as well as overhead gas lighting or electric lighting.[21]

Supplied with heat, gas, and running water, the Orcutt home provided optimal comforts for the time. Based on an 1890 newspaper that recounted a robbery in the home, I know that electric buttons powered the gas lights.

“When Mr. Orcutt drove up to to his house shortly before 7 o’clock, he noticed that the gas in his wife’s room was suddenly turned down but thought nothing further about it. His little daughter, Annie [Anna Ri], and a girl who was her guest finished supper early and ran up the front stairway. The gas in the hall had been extinguished, but the children attached no importance to it and did not relight the jets until they reached the second story, when they touched the electric buttons.”[22]

The burglars escaped via the rear hallway and back staircase, the staircase used by the servants. The thieves made off with two watches and chains, several pairs of bracelets, a diamond pin, and assorted jewelry. The value of the jewelry in 1890 was $600.

Who were the Orcutt’s neighbors? They were a mix of homeowners and renters. Some of the houses were large and elegant, while others were modest properties. On the north side of the Orcutts at 546 S 26th lived Jacob Soloman, a cattle dealer, his wife, two daughters, their spouses, a grandchild, and three servants. Immediately on the south side of the Orcutt home, in their rental property at 554 S 26th, resided a young couple, Charles and Catherine Moyer. The house immediately next to the rental property was occupied by Warren Switzler, a lawyer, his wife, two sons, a daughter, and one servant. Across the street at 557 S. 26th lived James Van Nostrand, a leather clerk, with his wife Virginia, and two female boarders, both listed as nursing school graduates. The neighbor’s occupations included: bookkeeper, printer, salesman, grocery store clerk, car builder, jewelry engraver, bookkeeper, real estate agent, and laundry proprietor. It was also a culturally diverse neighborhood. The majority were American-born with a mix of Canadians, Welsh, Irish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Germans.


For twenty years, the Orcutt family occupied their home at 550 South 26th Avenue in Omaha. They would be the only family to occupy the house as a single residence. After Clinton Orcutt’s death in 1905, his three daughters inherited the property in equal shares. On December 26, 1905, sole ownership was transferred to Edith Orcutt Beaton for the sum of “$1.00 and other good valuable considerations.”[23] Anna Ri married in March 1905 and moved to Chicago, Illinois. Jane continued to live at home until her marriage in February 1906. Edith and her husband, Alfred Beaton, remained in the Orcutt home until January 1907. Then they downsized and moved to “a neat double cottage of gray buff brick at 212 South Thirty-Seventh street“.[24] A more modest home, it consisted of two stories, nine rooms, including the reception hall.

Instead of immediately selling the family home, Edith and Alfred Beaton rented it furnished to a “party of bachelors” – ten single men.[25] By 1910 the Beatons converted the Orcutt home to a boarding house.The 1910 census listed twelve occupants: one female property manager, nine male boarders, and two female housemaids.[26] Finally on March 31, 1915, the Beatons sold the Orcutt home to Frank McGinty for $10,000.[27]

Lewis, S. 2021. Research Report Beaton & Orcutt Homes. History Walks LLC. Douglas County Nebraska Register of Deeds, (1915). Deed Bok 391: 556; Edith Beaton sells to Frank McGinty.

Why did Edith and Alfred sell the property for only $10,000 – a mere $1,000 more than what Clinton Orcutt paid for the land in 1886? As I mentioned previously, Clinton Orcutt likely speculated that the property values would rise. Instead, they declined. According to the professional genealogist, the area today has lower-end apartments and homes subject to vandalism and a high crime rate.[28]

After Frank McGinty bought the property he probably converted the house into at least two flats. I found an advertisement in the Omaha Daily Bee for January 1915 with the following listing. For $30/month the tenant could occupy a nine room, modern flat. The term “light housekeeping” indicated that there were limited facilities for cooking.

“13 Sep 1925, 21 – The Omaha Daily News at”,

After only 33 years, the Orcutt home was demolished in 1920 to make room for a four-story apartment building.[29] In September 1925 an advertisement in the Omaha Daily Bee featured “Omaha’s Finest Walking Distance Apartments” at La Morada Apartments – noted as 554 S 26th St.

“13 Sep 1925, 21 – The Omaha Daily News at”,

554 S 26th Avenue, Omaha, Nebraska – former location of Clinton Orcutt home. Google Maps.

Time marches on but as a family historian I try to capture glimpses of my ancestral past and preserve them for future generations.

© 2021 copyright – Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved


Genealogy Sketch

Name: [Marion Edith ORCUTT BEATON UTTENDORFER -1879-1964
Parents: Clinton Delos ORCUTT 1840-1905 and
Anna Dorcas DUTTON ORCUTT 1841-1891
Spouse: *Alfred James BEATON 1872-1916 and George Newell UTTENDORFER 1887-1972
Children: Anna Jane BEATON HYDE -1907-1998 and Orcutt Phillip BEATON 1900-1971
Relationship to Kendra: Great-Grandmother

  2. Anna Jane BEATON HYDE
  4. Kendra


  1. Lawrence H. Larsen and Barbara J. Cottrell; The Gate City A History of Omaha (Lincoln, Nebraska, University of Nebraska Press, 1977) p 61.
  2. Lawrence H. Larsen and Barbara J. Cottrell; The Gate City A History of Omaha (Lincoln, Nebraska, University of Nebraska Press, 1977) p 61.
  3. David L. Bristow, “A Farm Boy Comes to Omaha, 1888,” History Nebraska ( : Blog; accessed 20 March 2021.
  4. Ditto
  5. Douglas County Nebraska Register of Deeds, (1886). Deed Book 79: 69-70; Isaac Congdon et al. sell to Clinton Orcutt. Lewis, S. 2021. Research Report: Beaton and Orcutt Homes. History Walks LLC
  6. Douglas County Nebraska Register of Deeds, (1886). Deed Book 74: 406-0; Charles C Housel and Wife sell to Clinton Orcutt. Lewis, S. 2021. Research Report: Beaton and Orcutt Homes. History Walks LLC
  7. Lewis, S. 2021. Research Report: Beaton and Orcutt Homes. History Walks LLC
  8. Adam Fletcher, “A History of the Gold Coast Historic District of Omaha,” North Omaha History ( : accessed 12 April 2021).
  9. Sanborn Map Company, (1887).Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Omaha, Douglas and Sarpy County, Nebraska. [Map] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,
  10. “Omaha Illustrated: A History of the Pioneer Period and the Omaha of Today,” (Omaha, Nebraska, D.C. Dunbar & Co. Publishers, 1888; digital images, ( : accessed 20 April 2021), p.110.
  11. Margaret patricia Killian; Born Rich: A Historical Book of Omaha (Omaha, Nebraska, Assistance League of Omaha, 1978) p.46.
  12. John Fiske, “Painting your historic house, a guide to colors and color schemes,” Historic Ipswich on the Massachusetts North Shore, ( : accessed 5 May 2021.)
  13. “Mrs. Orcutt’s Dancing Party,” Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha) 20 December 1896, p.4. col.1 : digital images, Chronicling America online Newspaper Archive ( : accessed 9 May 2021).
  14. “Mr. Orcutt’s Reception,” Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha), 23 December 1900, p.6 : digital images, Chronicling America Online Newspaper Archive ( : accessed 12 February 2021).
  15. “A Dainty Pink Luncheon,” Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha), 18 August 1895, p.4; digital images, Chronicling America Online Newspaper Archive ( : accessed 11 January 2021.
  16. “A Complete guide to Victorian Houses,” Home Advisor, (https// : accessed 5 April 2021.
  17. “Victorian Decorative Arts,” digital images, Wikipedia ( : accessed 5 April 2021.
  18. Suzanne Spellen, “From Pakistan to Brooklyn: A Quick History of the Bathroom,” digital images, Brownstoner, (
  19. 1900 U.S. Census, Douglas County, Omaha, population schedule, Omaha, Enumeration District (ED) 0045, sheet 7, dwelling 102, family 119, Clinton Orcutt : digital image, ( : accessed 4 June 2021 citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 1854.
  20. “Help Wanted – Female,” Omaha World-Herald, (Omaha), July 12, 1898, p.7; digital images, ( : accessed 16 May 2021).
  21. Suzanne Spellen, “Walkabout: Someone’s in the Kitchen Part I,” digital images, Brownstoner, ( : accessed 15 May 2021.
  22. “A Neat bit of Work – How Two Burglars Robbed mr. Orcutt’s Residence,” Omaha World-Herald, (Omaha), 13 February 1890, p.3 ; digital images,, ( : accessed 16 February 2020).
  23. Douglas County Nebraska Register of Deeds
  24. “Dempsters New Cottage,” Omaha Daily Bee, (Omaha), 6 January 1907, p.13; digital images, ( : accessed 4 June 2021.
  25. Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha), 30 December 1906, p.7; digital images,, ( : accessed 20 May 2021.
  26. 1910 U.S. Census, Douglas County, Omaha, population schedule, Omaha, Enumeration District (ED) 0083, sheet 6, dwelling 108, family 110, Jeannie Nealley : digital image, ( : accessed 4 June 2021 citing National Archives microfilm publication T624, roll 844.
  27. Lewis, S. 2021. Research Report: Beaton & Orcutt Homes, History Walks LLC. Douglas County Nebraska Register of Deeds, (1915). Deed Book 391: 556; Edith Beaton sells to Frank McGinty.
  28. Lewis, S. 2021. Research Report: Beaton & Orcutt Homes, History Walks LLC.
  29. Lewis, S. 2021. Research Report: Beaton & Orcutt Homes, History Walks LLC. Douglas County Nebraska Assessor/Register of Deeds, Douglas County, Nebraska Property Record -R0813850000. douglas County Assessor/Register of Deeds GIS Mapping (Internet Site), at (Accessed 15 July 2021).

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Orcutt family travel album – (L-R) Anna Ri, Clinton, Jane Clare

The S.S. Australasian departed Montreal on June 8, 1901, bound for Liverpool, England. On board were three of my ancestors – Clinton Orcutt, my 2x great-grandfather, and his two youngest daughters, Anna Ri and Jane Clare. After ten days at sea, they arrived in Liverpool, England, where they began their 70+ day tour of seven countries. You can read a detailed description of their trans-Atlantic journey here.

However, the Orcutts left me with a puzzle to solve. What cities and sights did they visit? Although I have their photograph album, the 89 pictures aren’t labeled. How many of us are guilty of not labeling our photographs? My grandmother, Anna Jane (Beaton) Hyde, who inherited the album, noted two prominent cities (Venice and Rome) after she took her Grand Tour in the summer of 1929.

Most of the Orcutt’s photographs will be shown in the original black and white. However, I have colorized some of them to improve their visibility and appearance. It is very likely that the Orcutts, novice photographers, were unsuccessful with every image they took. The album includes no photos of the Netherlands or Paris, France. Perhaps, these pictures didn’t turn out?

I created a google-map of the Orcutt’s trip, including photographs from their trip and postcard images from the Library of Congress and You can click on each location to view the images.

As I researched for this blog, I read travel handbooks from Thomas Cook, Karl Baedeker, and several late 19th century authors who wrote travel books for the average tourist. I found their writing styles amusing, informative, and a pleasure to read; thus, I have included an assortment of quotes from their books.


Library of Congress
  • MONEY – Foreign Money does not circulate in England, and it should always be exchanged on arrival. A convenient and safe mode of carrying money from America or the Continent is in the shaper of letters of credit, or circular notes, which are readily procurable at the principal banks.
  • EXPENSES –The cost of a visit to Great Britain depends, of course on the habits and tastes of the traveler. If he frequents first-class hotels, travels first-class on the railways, and systematically prefers driving to walking, he must be prepared to spend 30-40s (shillings) per day or upwards.
  • PASSPORTS- are not necessary in England, though occasionally useful in procuring delivery of registered and poste restante letters.”[1] Baedeker, Great Britain, 1901.

The first image taken after the Orcutts arrived in England is depicted below; perhaps they were in Liverpool? Anna Ri and her companion, Martha Blackwell, posed on a wooden sidewalk. A group of women seated to the left seemed to be waiting for a carriage. Are they all part of the same travel group?

Martha Blackwell and Anna Ri Orcutt – perhaps they are in Liverpool, England? June 1901.

Before departing Liverpool, travelers could give notice to the Station Master and request a luncheon basket be brought to the main train carriage. A Cold Luncheon basket contained half a chicken with ham or tongue, salad, bread, cheese, butter, and half a bottle of claret, stout, or mineral water. The Hot Luncheon basket contained a steak or chop with vegetables, cheese, bread, and half a bottle of claret, stout, or mineral water.[2]

Based on Thomas Cook’s itineraries, the travelers probably toured a few sites en route to London. One guidebook stated that rural England was more delightful than the urban areas and advised tourists to take a trip through the English countryside.[3]

Page two of the album features nine pictures taken in the English countryside. The exact locations are unknown.

A somewhat ethereal image of Anna Ri in a castle garden. Four additional women are in the background. June 1901.

Clinton Orcutt at the top of the staircase. A group of unknown travelers and a horseless carriage wait below. June 1901

Four pictures were taken in the English countryside. Anna Ri Orcutt posed opposite a castle/manor house on a rock wall. This collage includes the only interior photograph taken on the trip.

Clinton Orcutt, Martha Blackwell, and Jane Orcutt – location unknown. Quite the hats Martha and Jane are sporting.


Cook’s itineraries generally advised three days in London. Unfortunately, the Orcutts’ trip to London coincided with the height of the “Season,” when hotels were crowded, museums and galleries thronged, and shopkeepers rushed. The must-see places included Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, the British Museum, the South Kensington Museums, and the National Gallery.[4] One guidebook for 1900 offered the following advice for visitors to museums and galleries:

“…not to spend too much time at a stretch in a gallery or museum; an hour and a half or two hours should be the utmost limit of the visit; after that, the brain becomes like a soaked sponge, and although you may think you are noticing things, you will not remember them.”[5]

Top Left – British Museum, Bottom Left – Houses of Parliament and Thames River, Right – Westminster Abbey. Images from Library of Congress and Ancestry postcard images.

If the Orcutts and Mrs. Blackwell had done their homework, they would have read general works of art and history for each country they planned to visit. Guidebooks, such as those written by Thomas Cook Ltd or Karl Baedeker, provided travelers helpful tips to enhance their experiences abroad. They included recommendations for hotels and restaurants, learning a foreign language, financial matters (currency, going through customs, buying souvenirs), and advice for personal behavior, something every guidebook mentioned. Unfortunately, Americans did not have a good reputation for manners on the Continent.

“…unless travellers are willing to leave national prejudices behind them and ready to see whatever is characteristic and excellent in a foreign country, without finding fault because it is unfamiliar, they had better remain at home. Americans are among the worst offenders in this regard, and there is no greater nuisance than the man who growls because he cannot get buckwheat cakes or the woman who fusses when she has to do without iced water…while you are abroad, try to get all the pleasure and profit out of that visit.”[6]

Thomas Cook catered to American tourists and ensured that every detail enhanced the traveler’s comfort. However, Cook thought Americans were “…extroverted and outspoken, indulging in what he called ‘high airs and tall talk.’ A constant cause of friction was the Continental breakfast which seemed like an insult to people used to starting the day on steak. Another source of friction was the expectation of hoteliers that hotel guests would order wine with their meals and the American determination to drink iced water and coffee and not pay extra for it.”[7]

As young American ladies, Anna Ri (age 19), and Jane Clare (age 16), needed to be cautious in their interactions with strangers, both on the ship and while traveling on the Continent. Being courteous was acceptable, but a lady should not be too friendly, especially to men.

“The frank, level gaze with which the American girl, not thinking any evil, meets the eyes of men who are strangers to her is always startling to Europeans. Ladies in Europe, especially on the Continent, dress quietly when walking and wear very little jewelry in the daytime.”[8]

“A lady will be courteous to everyone out of self-respect, but effusiveness of manner is not thought in England to be an attraction…and by some classes of people, it may be misunderstood.”[9]

Dover, England, seafront – Library of Congress

After about three days in London, the Orcutts likely journeyed by train to Dover. From there, they could catch a ship and travel 3 1/2 hours to Ostend on the coast of Belgium.[10] I based my assumption on Cook’s itinerary and page three in the Orcutt photograph album. It includes six pictures of beach and town scenes, that after close examination, led me to believe that the Orcutts took the photographs in Ostend and Blankenberghe, two popular Belgian coastal towns.


  • The works of the painter and the architect are Belgium’s great attractions.
  • Passports are not dispensed with in Belgium, but they are frequently useful in proving a traveller’s identity, procuring admission to collections, and in obtaining delivery of registered letters.
  • Custom House formalities are generally very lenient. The traveller should always, if possible, superintend the examination of his luggage in person. In crossing a frontier, even the smallest articles of luggage usually kept in the railway carriage have to be submitted to inspection.
  • French is still the language of the government, the army, of most of the newspapers, of public traffic… and indeed of all the upper classes, as it has been since the time of the crusades.”[11] Baedeker, Belgium and Holland: including the grand-duchy of Luxembourg, 1901.

The Orcutt sisters had the advantage of knowing a second language, which would have facilitated their travels in Belgium and France. Anna Ri and Jane had to study French when they attended Duchesne, Sacred Heart Academy in Omaha. You can read about their studies here.


Ostend, Belgium. Library of Congress image

Cook’s tourist handbook noted Ostend as one of the principal avenues of passenger traffic between London and the Continent. It was also one of the most “popular and fashionable watering places in Europe.”[12] During the season, which lasted from June to October, 40,000-50,000 tourist visited Ostend for sea-bathing. Tourist could rent Bathing machines and tents on the beach for the day between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.[13]

When I examine the photographs in the Album, I ponder why the photographer (Clinton, Anna Ri, or Jane) took that particular scene. The first picture on page three depicts a street undergoing repairs; large paving stones are stacked in piles, awnings shade the storefronts, and horses and carriages wait for their rides. The Café de l’Empereur (founded in 1764) is on the far right of the image. I searched Baedeker’s travel guidebook for Belgium and Holland for 1901 and found a Hôtel De L’Empereur in Ostend that included a restaurant.[14] Perhaps, the Orcutts went to the cafe, or they found the street repairs interesting?

Possibly taken in Ostend, Belgium. Café de L’Empereur – Founded in 1764- Orcutt photograph album June, 1901.

A second photograph taken on a city street is too blurry to read the storefront signs, but perhaps Jane or Anna Ri took the picture in Ostend?

Belgium, possibly taken in Ostend. Orcutt photograph Album, summer 1901.

The third photograph featured a friend whom the Orcutts met while on their trip. Anna Ri and Jane seem to have become quite chummy with their new friend. The unnamed young lady appeared in eight pictures. In this photo, she is seated at a café under the shade of an umbrella. I recognize her by her hat; she usually wears glasses.

Belgium, possibly in Ostend. Orcutt photograph album, summer 1901.Traveling friend of the Orcutts.


Blankenberghe, located 10 miles to the N.W. of Ostend, was a small fishing town of about 4,300 inhabitants and a rival sea-bathing resort. It offered lower rates than Ostend and was “freer and less conventional.”[15]. Did the Orcutts rent swimsuits and enjoy sea-bathing?

I discovered several postcards of Blankenberge pier, built in 1894, which strongly resemble the photograph in the Orcutt Album. Images are from the Library of Congress.

Blankenberghe Pier, Belgium. June-July 1901, Orcutt Photograph Album.

After the Orcutts toured Ostend, they likely traveled by train to Brussels. They may have taken the express train from Brussels to Cologne (Köln). This is where they probably began their tour of the Rhine (Rhein) River. Unfortunately, I don’t have any direct evidence that they visited Brussels, but according to Cook’s and Baedeker’s travel handbooks, it was one of Belgium’s most popular tourist destinations.


Each time the Orcutts crossed a border into a different country, they had to go through customs. The custom-house examinations were generally made at the station nearest the frontier. Every guidebook described the process as “one of the greatest drawbacks to the pleasures of foreign travel.”[16] Each country had different customs procedures, with the English being the most lenient and the French the strictest.[17]

“When landing in any foreign country, and whenever you cross the line between any two countries, you must go through the tedious farce of a customs house examination. It is tedious because it delays the journey from half an hour to two hours, at points utterly devoid of interest; and it is a farce for about all American tourists because they carry nothing on which duty is collected. Liquor, tobacco, and food are the things sought for more than anything else, and the traveler is likely to carry none of them in dutiable quantities.

The trunks are all taken from what we call the baggage car and what the English call the luggage van, placed on long tables, and opened when you produce the key. If you are good-natured and show no uneasiness, the examining official will make only the most cursory examination, often merely lifting the lid. If you claim two or three trunks, frequently you will be asked to open but one; don’t suggest which one it shall be, or the official will have another opened.”[18]

A fellow Omaha resident who traveled to Europe in the summer of 1901 described her frustrating experiences to the Omaha Daily Bee after returning home.

“Paying car fare and opening my baggage for inspection took most of the three months I spent in Europe. I guess they must have thought I was a diamond smuggler. Nearly every waking hour I was traveling, an inspector demanded that my luggage be opened. I became so accustomed to obeying orders that I sat with my keys in my hand, ready to open my trunk and traveling bag on a moment’s notice. Friends told me that if I would talk to the inspectors in an animated manner, they would pass my luggage without tumbling everything into a mess. The men who understood English seemed to grow more suspicious as I jabbered away at them. My German and French had no effect whatever on inspectors who speak only those languages. They only looked at me hopelessly and went on with their work of stirring things up.”[19]

The Orcutts and Martha Blackwell had completed their tour of England, Holland, and Belgium and were ready to visit the fourth country on their itinerary. A change of borders meant a shift in language and customs. Hopefully, they kept their travel guidebook at hand as it offered advice on every aspect of travel.

  • Chance acquaintances must never be made in the street, except under extraordinary circumstances.
  • Before taking your place at a table d’hôte, you should bow slightly to the other persons at your table, and also when you get up to go away. People who omit to do this are thought very rude on the Continent, especially in Germany.
  • If you are next to a stranger at the table, it is allowable and indeed polite to talk with him or her, and if your neighbor is a man, it is your place to speak first. (This advice was for a female tourist.)
  • In England, you don’t greet the shop people whereas on the Continent it is customary to say “good day” when you go into a shop in France, Italy, or Germany.
  • In England, as with us, a woman bows first in the street, but on the Continent, the reverse is the rule, and men speak first to women.”
  • The American custom that a man walking with a woman should always keep himself between her and the gutter is not known in Europe; a woman’s place is invariably on the man’s right hand, whether walking or driving.”
  • If you walk or sit on a man’s left in Germany, it amounts to an admission that you are of a decidedly lower class. An older woman always sits on the right of a young one.”
  • It is exceedingly bad form to be late at the table d’hôte.”[22]
  • Three health tips to adhere to while traveling: “Don’t get overheated and then chilled; Don’t go too long without eating; Don’t drink water unless you are sure it is good.”[22]


Boulevard Ornano, Paris – Station – around 1900.

Trains served as the most practical transportation from one city to the next. The railway cars differed from country to country but most offered first, second, and third-class compartments. Each railway car was divided by partitions parallel with the end of the car into compartments. The first class had eight seats (four facing front and four back) in a compartment, while the third class had ten, one more on each side. Some travelers felt the first-class compartments were superior to second-class. Still, Baedeker’s guidebooks stated there was no difference in Germany and very little in England, France, and Italy. An English proverb says that “only Americans and fools travel first-class.”[23] The comment was based on the sentiment that “there is more false pride in democratic America than in aristocratic Europe.”[23 If, as I surmise, the Orcutts booked a circular ticket through Thomas Cook or a similar agency, then they would have purchased first-class railway tickets.[24}

Dining cars were not as popular abroad as in the States due to the shorter distances traveled in Europe between cities. However, the Continental Express trains offered a restaurant and dining cars; otherwise, the passengers could procure food from the local station restaurant stops. Travel guidebooks recommended that the American tourists purchase an inexpensive hamper and fill it with picnic items to eat while underway. Since good water was not always available, a bottle of wine was a good addition. In Germany, beer was offered through the railway car windows at nearly every stopping place.[25]

PART III – to be continued

Join the Orcutts as they visit Germany, where they take a steamer up the Rhein River and visit Heidelberg castle. Then on to Switzerland, where they take an excursion on Lake Lucerne and drive from Interlaken to Grindelwald to see the glaciers. Their itinerary also included a three-day trip to Paris.


Genealogy Sketch

Clinton Delos ORCUTT

Name: [Clinton Delos ORCUTT -1840-1905
Parents: Daniel Heath ORCUTT 1809-1864 and
Angeline PERKINS 1813-1887
Spouse: Anna Dorcas DUTTON 1842-1899
Children: Louis DeForest ORCUTT -1871-1891, George Dutton ORCUTT 1873-1886, Marion Edith ORCUTT BEATON 1879-1964, Anna Ri ORCUTT JAQUES 1881-1942, and Jane Clare ORCUTT KEELINE 1884-1918
Relationship to Kendra: Great Great-Grandfather

  1. Clinton Delos ORCUTT
  3. Anna Jane BEATON HYDE
  5. Kendra


© 2022 copyright – Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved


[9] Jones, M. Cadwalader. (1900). European travel for women: notes and suggestions. New York: The Macmillan company, p. 132. Digital Images.

[10] Karl Baedeker (Firm). (1901). Belgium and Holland: including the grand-duchy of Luxembourg; handbook for travellers. 13th ed., rev. and augm. Leipsic: K. Baedeker. Digital images.

[11]Karl Baedeker (Firm). (1901). Belgium and Holland: including the grand-duchy of Luxembourg; handbook for travellers. 13th ed., rev. and augm. Leipsic: K. Baedeker. Digital images.

[12] Thomas Cook (Firm). (1901). Cook’s tourists’ handbook for Holland, Belgium: the Rhine and the Black Forest. London. Digital images. (

[13] Karl Baedeker (Firm). (1901). Belgium and Holland: including the grand-duchy of Luxembourg; handbook for travellers. 13th ed., rev. And augm. Leipsic: K. Baedeker. P. 10. Digital images.

[14] Karl Baedeker (Firm). (1901). Belgium and Holland: including the grand-duchy of Luxembourg; handbook for travellers. 13th ed., rev. and augm. Leipsic: K. Baedeker. P. 9. Digital images.

[15] Karl Baedeker (Firm). (1901). Belgium and Holland: including the grand-duchy of Luxembourg; handbook for travellers. 13th ed., rev. And augm. Leipsic: K. Baedeker. P. 17. Digital images.

[16] Thomas Cook (Firm). (1901). Cook’s tourists’ handbook for Holland, Belgium: the Rhine and Black Forest. London. p. 1. Digital images. (

[17] Holland, Evangeline. Edwardian England A Guide to Everyday Life 1900-1914. 2014 Plum Bun Publishing. Digital images.

[18] Luce, Robert, Going Abroad? Some Advice. Boston, R & L Luce Publisher. 1900. Digital images., p. 192.

[19] Miss Tobit is at Home Omaha Librarian Returns from Extended Tour of Europe. Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska, August 8, 1901, pg.7. Digital images. ( accessed January 16, 2022.)

[20] Jones, M. Cadwalader. (1900). European travel for women: notes and suggestions. New York: The Macmillan company, p. 13-15. Digital Images. (

[21] Luce, Robert, Going Abroad? Some Advice. Boston, R & L Luce Publisher. 1900. Digital images., p139.

[22] Jones, M. Cadwalader. (1900). European travel for women: notes and suggestions. New York: The Macmillan company, p. 7. Digital Images.

[23] Luce, Robert, Going Abroad? Some Advice. Boston, R & L Luce Publisher. 1900. Digital images., p. 54.


[24] Luce, Robert, Going Abroad? Some Advice. Boston, R & L Luce Publisher. 1900. Digital images., p. 55.


[25] Luce, Robert, Going Abroad? Some Advice. Boston, R & L Luce Publisher. 1900. Digital images., p. 58.


[26] Luce, Robert, Going Abroad? Some Advice. Boston, R & L Luce Publisher. 1900. Digital images., p. 61

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ORCUTT TRAVEL ALBUM (L-R Anna Ri Orcutt, Clinton Delos Orcutt, Jane Clare Orcutt)

I was about twelve years old the first time I saw the Orcutt Family Travel Album. Since then, many years have passed, and the album’s condition has deteriorated. Yet, it still continues to fascinate me. After much research, I decided to reveal the stories hidden within.

Aunt Jane Keeline & Auntie Ri’s Trips with Grandfather Orcutt to Europe, Mexico Yellowstone Park (Label written by Anna Jane Beaton Hyde)

My grandmother, Anna Jane Hyde, nee Beaton, inherited the album from her favorite aunt, Jane Clare (Orcutt) Keeline. Around 1898, fourteen-year-old Jane Orcutt acquired a loose-leaf Morehouse scrapbook manufactured by the Heinn Specialty Co in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The album, 15.25″x11″x1″ includes 24 ash grey “leaves” or pages. The first two images posted in the book were taken circa 1899 when the Orcutt family traveled on vacation from Omaha, Nebraska to Colorado Springs, Colorado. The next five pages of the album show Jane cavorting with her friends in the Orcutt family home.

The focus of this blog concerns the following ten pages filled with 89 small black and white photographs – the Orcutt’s Grand Tour of Europe. On June 8, 1901, Clinton Delos Orcutt, my 2x great-grandfather, accompanied by his two youngest daughters, Anna Ri (19) and Jane Clare (16), set sail from New York bound for England. A long-time family friend joined the Orcutts on their excursion and acted as a chaperone for the girls. Mrs. Martha Blackwell was a widow whom the Orcutt family knew from their years in Muscatine, Iowa.

Clinton Orcutt, Jane Orcutt, Anna Ri Orcutt, Mrs. Martha Blackwell & unknown travel companions – Europe Summer 1901
  • 1 Clinton Delos Orcutt – 60 years old
  • 2 Jane Clare Orcutt – 16 years old
  • 3 Anna Ri Orcutt – 19 years old
  • 4 Martha Blackwell – 42 years old

“Mr. Clinton Orcutt, accompanied by his two daughters, Miss Ana Ri and Miss Jennie, will sail for England to be gone for several months. Their tour will include England, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, and Italy.”[1]

“Mrs. Martha Blackwell left Sunday for New York, where she sails today for Europe. The Misses Orcutt sail on the same steamer.”[2]

Although Jane did not keep a written travel journal, I reconstructed the Orcutt’s Grand Tour using the photograph album, newspaper articles, and travel guides/books. At the beginning of the 20th century, a lengthy tour of Europe became almost a rite of passage for upper-middle -class youth. Inspired by popular books and travel writings of American authors Nathanial Hawthorne, Mark Twain, and others, readers were encouraged to explore Europe[3]. For example, in 1869, when Twain published the Innocents Abroad, he wrote, “Everybody was going to Europe…The steamship lines were carrying Americans out of the various ports of the country at the rate of four or five thousand a week.” [4]When the Orcutts and Mrs. Blackwell set sail for Europe in 1901, steam powered sailing ships crossed the ocean in little over a week. In addition, the integrated train transportation network within Europe facilitated travel for foreigners across the continent. The advent of companies dedicated to organizing this travel facilitated and enhanced the experience. A novice traveler could rely on Thomas Cook & Sons of London to arrange every aspect of the trip.


Perhaps the Orcutt family members read some of the same books I used during my research. I discovered a couple of travel books printed circa 1900, many now available digitally, that provided detailed descriptions. I started my research by reading “Four Girls in Europe,” written by Clarissa Sands Arnold, transcribed and edited by her great-granddaughter, which recounts her tour of Europe from October 1900 to September 1901. Like the Orcutts, she began her travels in England.

Mary Cadwalader Jones wrote a travel guide specifically for women traveling to Europe, “European Travel for Women.” She strongly advised her readers to purchase a circular ticket through Cook’s or another travel agency to take advantage of benefits.[5]

“Not only can you tell exactly what your tour will cost, but you are taken care of everywhere by thoroughly efficient machinery, and if you know nothing of any language except your own, you will probably profit more by your trip than if you try to wander about alone. I strongly advise you to go to Cook’s offices, which are found in almost every city, for your railway and steamboat tickets.”[6]

Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska, 30 March 1901,

Margaret Addison, who wrote “A Diary of a European Tour,” published in 1900, traveled for a portion of her journey with Thomas Cook & Sons.

“The advantage of traveling with Cook’s – unique at the time – was that one could book and pay in advance for all travel on the differently owned steamship and railroad lines, hotel accommodation, and even meals. Tourist tickets and hotel coupons were issued to be exchanged for services as needed. Cook maintained uniformed officers at main railroad stations to advise travelers, as well as to vehicles to support them to their hotels.”[7]

Cooks Excursionist Home & Foreign Tourist Advertiser

I found an 1898 digital copy of Cook’s Excursionist and Tourist Advertiser with tour itineraries and pricing. The tour selection changed through the seasons based on popularity. According to newspaper articles, I knew the Orcutts had departed on June 8, 1901, and returned to Omaha on September 15.[8] thus, they had 98 travel days. They likely allowed three days of train travel from Omaha to the East and back, plus ten days of trans-Atlantic travel in each direction. I concluded that the Orcutts had approximately 72 days to tour Europe.

Per the recommendations from the guidebooks, the Orcutts probably booked their trip several months in advance through a local Thomas Cook agent in Omaha. A deposit of 25% was required upon booking and the balance two or three weeks before sailing.

TOUR OF 59 DAYS – $615.00 per person ($20,917 in 2022) visiting England, Belgium, Holland, Germany, the Rhine, Switzerland, and France

TOUR OF 86 DAYS – $750.00 per person ($25, 509 in 2022) visiting England, France, Swizerland, Italian Lakes, Italy, The Tyrol, Bavaria, Austria, Germany, The Rhine, Belgium, England[9]

The fare included:

HOTELS – Hotel accommodations included simple breakfast, meat lunch, table d’hote [a dinner restaurant meal offered for a fixed price], plus bedrooms, lights, and service.

FEES – Omnibuses to and from hotels, stations, and piers while with the Cook’s Conductor. Tips and fees for servants, railway guards, porters, hotel servants, and sight-seeing while with the Conductor.

BAGGAGE – On the Atlantic 250 lbs, in England 150 lbs,, on the continent 60 lbs., free.

CARRIAGE DRIVERS, STEAMERS, GONDOLAS, AND EXCURSIONS – All the necessary expenses per program, including a qualified conductor’s services, who will act as guide and interpreter.[10]


Guidebooks advised that the traveler should have a sense of purpose in their travel and be prepared by reading guide books and works of history or fiction relating to the various European countries. They should also be open-minded and look at things from the point of view of the local citizen. “Remember when you go to a strange country that its inhabitants have not sent for you; you go among them, presumably of your own accord, and their manners and customs cannot possibly seem stranger to you than yours do to them.”[11]

The most crucial matter for the traveler to decide was how much they could afford to spend on the trip. Once they set their budget, the Orcutt family could have purchased traveler’s checks from the American Express Company, Brown Brothers, or similar firms. They might have taken the advice from the guidebooks to acquire a Letter of Credit, which could be issued for a minimum sum of $500.00. [12]

Although a passport was not necessary, it was recommended as a means of identification. It was good for two years and could be renewed for one dollar. Unfortunately, I have not found any records that indicate if the Orcutts or Martha Blackwell acquired passports.


1.Two smaller pieces of luggage rather than one large one as the luggage must be carried by hand up and down stairs at hotels. “Don’t try to drag about the huge arks with which some Americans advertise their nationality because they are inconvenient, as Europeans are not used to handling them.”[13] A safe size for a steamer trunk is thirteen inches to be stowed under the berth.[14]

2. “A large dark-coloured canvas bag, or ‘kit,’ for soiled clothes…A canvas cover with straps in which the rugs and shawls of the party may be neatly rolled will keep them from the dust of travel, and still, another canvas case is advisable for holding umbrellas and parasols, which otherwise soon get badly chafed and shabby looking.”[15]

3. Women – two tailormade cloth suits, one thicker and one lighter in a dark color, preferably serge or mohair, a good silk or satin skirt, and a few blouses or shirtwaists. If going to the theater, an evening wrap, a house dress or tea gown if the traveler stops to rest for a day or two. A silk petticoat and simple underclothes as they will receive hard usage from the washerwomen. Warm underclothes to wear aboard the ship as the Atlantic can be chilly. A thick gauze veil in case of excessive dust. For nighttime, a simple, think flannel dressing-gown, in “some quiet color, in order not to be too conspicuous when you go to the bathroom.” It can be worn over a nightgown at sea.[16]

4. “A handbag, and do not make the mistake of choosing it too small, or the leather which will easily become shabby; russet or black pigskin or morocco [soft leather made from goatskin] is very serviceable.”[17]

5. “For the feet, light-colored shoes are, on the whole preferable, because they look better with less care. Every healthy tourist is sure to do a great deal of walking, and many a night, the feet will ache. So only the easiest of shoes should be worn, and for the same reason, slippers will prove a big relief in hotels and pensions.”[18]

6. Men should wear a business suit. “Outing shirts for men are far the most comfortable, and they have the decided advantage of not yielding so quickly to the grim of railway trains and the perspiration of exercise, which the traveler cannot avoid.” [19]A white shirt and collar should be worn at the table d’hote and at any resort after dark.

7. Both men and women should wear a hat. For women, it should fit the head closely, be trimmed with ribbons or stiff feathers, and have a slight brim to protect the eyes from the glare of the sky and water. For men, a Derby was the preferred hat in the city streets.[20]

8. A camera to preserve memories. “The Daylight Kodak 5×4 is an easy size to carry, and in all large cities, you can get Eastman’s films or have them developed.”[21]

Basic Kodak Brownie Camera, Wikimedia Commons


shaving brush bootlaces & hat stringaneroid barometer, and pocket thermometer
soapcathartic pills & quininepaper covered novels
pocket-knifeleather vial case containing vials of Jamaica ginger, cholera medicine, listerine, arnica, medicine for coughs, & colds, whiskey, toilet water, hamamelis, ink, paregoric.binocular glasses or opera glasses
comb & hair brushSeidlitz powdersflask
court plasterpocket looking-glasscompass
ink bottle with spring coverpieces of flannel & cottonpocket tool chest, tools inside handle
spongehot water bagsmall pillow for steamer chair & in trains
vaselineelastic bands & tags & labels
telescoping drinking cuppatent trouser buttons
steamer rug (a thick carriage robe serves in a pinch)playing cards
shawl strapthin linen & paper envelopes
clothes-brushtape measure & pocket rule
stylographic or fountain penfolding alcohol lamp
corkscrewtube of toothpaste
needles & threadfor women, smelling salts
pincushion & safety pins
toilet paper (in cloth case)
visiting cards, recommended as “proof of respectability”
leather purse for coins
foreign currency both coins and bills
collar buttons and shirt studs
For women- glove & shoe buttons, sewing silk, tapes, hooks, eyes, hat pins & small pins, black & white
soap (hotels did not supply it)


RMS Ruapehu also known as the SS Australasian, courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand

Finding the correct ship was not smooth sailing. I encountered a few waves that threated to founder my research. Numerous searches for a ship’s manifest yielded no results, so I relied on newspaper articles for (what I thought) was accurate information; unfortunately, it conflicted. Four articles stated that the Orcutts and Mrs. Blackwell sailed from New York to England on June 8, 1901.

  • Clinton Orcutt, the Misses Orcutt and Mrs. Martha Blackwell sailed from New York on Saturday for Europe.”[23]
  • Mrs. Martha Blackwell expects to go east soon, sailing from New York on June 8, to spend some time abroad. She will be accompanied by her friends from Muscatine, Ia.[24]
  • Mrs. Martha Blackwell left Sunday for New York, where she sails today for Europe. The Misses Orcutt sail on the same steamer.”[25]
  • “Mr. Clinton Orcutt accompanied by his two daughters, Miss Anna Ri and Miss Jennie, will sail June 8 for England, to be gone several months. Their tour will include England, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, and Italy.”[26]

Two additional articles stated that the Orcutts sailed from Montreal to Liverpool; the first article had obvious errors.

  • Mrs. C.D. Orcutt and daughter sailed from Montreal for Liverpool on Saturday. They expect to be away four months.”[27]
  • C.D. Orcutt and his two daughters left last week for Europe. They sailed from Montreal and will travel on the continent for four months.”[28]

I concluded (erroneously) that New York must be the correct port of departure and conducted my research accordingly. After I found the ship that departed from New York for Liverpool on June 8, I amassed articles, photographs, even a ship’s menu from the New York Public Library. As I typed the final edit of this blog, my ancestors whispered, “You’ve got the wrong ship.” One more time I perused the U.K. and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists. Gobsmacked describes my reaction when Genealogy Serendipity struck! Finally, I’d found it -the ship’s manifest that listed the names Mr. Clinton D. Orcutt, Miss Anna Orcutt, Miss Jennie Orcutt, and Mrs. Martha Blackwell. They sailed on June 8, 1901 from MONTREAL to Liverpool.[29] UK and Ireland Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960, Liverpool, England 1901 Apr-Jun

The manifest included the name of the ship, the Australasian, the summary of steerage and cabin passengers, and the master of the ship, Captain John Brown. UK and Ireland Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960, Liverpool, England 1901 Apr-Jun

Back to the drawing board. Further research revealed that there were two ships with the same name – the S.S. Australasian. The first vessel I researched was built in 1884. It sailed between England, Australia, and New Zealand and served primarily as a cargo ship. It took another couple of days to discover that the second Australasian ship launched in February 1901 under another name, the RMS Ruapehu.
Allan Line Advertising Card c. 1886, courtesy of

“The Allan Line have taken over from the New Zealand Steamship company the SS Ruapehu, which has been renamed the Australasian and will make her maiden voyage on May 23rd [1901].”[30]

The RMS Ruapehu was built by William Denny & Bros at Dumbarton, Scotland for the New Zealand Shipping Co. Ltd. She was 7,705 tons, 475 feet long, 58 feet broad, and 42 feet deep, and was intended for the Company’s trade between London and the Australian colonies.[31] According to a maritime website, “Her First- and Second-class public rooms were fitted out in a high quality and well furnished, whilst the cabins were known to offer from supreme to good comfort.” [32]The ship could transport 340 passengers, 40 in First Class, 50 in Second Class, and 80 Third Class plus space for 170 steerage passengers. The manifest for the June 8th voyage listed 202 passengers (192 adults, 8 children, and two infants). The passengers were either listed as steerage (71) or cabin (141), but the manifest did not designate which passengers occupied First-, Second-, or Third-class cabins.[33] A 1903 Allan Line publication described the accommodations aboard three of its newest ships as follows:

“The first- and second-class accommodations amidships where, of course, the minimum of motion is experienced, on the saloon deck. Above the saloon deck is the upper bridge deck, and above that again the shade deck. From the shade deck, a companion-way leads to the upper bridge deck below, on which are a number of staterooms, the first-class smoking room, and the bridge deck below on which are a number of staterooms, the first-class smoking room, and the first-class music room, while surrounding the containing deck house is a noble promenade well equipped with seat accommodation and sheltered from the weather by the shade deck above. The first-class staterooms are each fitted with a wardrobe in rich mahogany, a settee in red plush, and the most up-to-date of toilet equipment. At the after end of the passenger accommodation on the upper bridge deck is the first-class smoking room, an apartment which suggests both ease and solid comfort. The floor is of oak parquetry, the ceiling is decorated in rich cream and gold, while the oak panels of the walls are relieved by floral devices in maple. The lounges and chairs are upholstered in stamped leather with handsome mirrors, and last but not least, a commodious bar completes a tout ensemble which male passengers will not be slow to appreciate. The ladies comforts are specially catered for by an exquisite music room; the refinement and luxury which reflects great credit upon the builders. The piano by Steinway, the writing tables, and panels are in oak and maple, while the predominant tint in the flowered silk of the upholstery is blue, a color which harmonizes with the cream and gold of the ceiling and the curtains which screen the oblong ports, commanding views both to port and starboard as well as forward. From the upper bridge deck, a handsome staircase and entrance hall communicates with the saloon deck and the first-class dining saloon, a noble apartment well lighted and lofty and extending the full width of the ship. The furniture, organ, and sideboards are of walnut, while the upholstery is terra-cotta stamped velvet.”[34]

RMS Ruapehu also known as the SS Australasian, courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand

I was reassured I had the correct vessel when I found two articles that mentioned the RMS Australasian in conjunction with Captain Brown.

“The Allan Line R.M.S. Australasian, Captain Brown, arrived in port [Montreal] shortly before one o’clock yesterday with passengers and general cargo. This is the third trip of the Australasian to this port and already she has proved herself not only a good seaworthy vessel, but she has also become a favorite with the travelling public. Her present voyage was an exceptionally pleasant one to the passengers, the latter as they disembarked speaking in eulogistic terms of Capt Brown and his officers for the manner in which they had been treated during the trip across.”[35]

Allan Line Steamship Australasian and Captain Brown,
Allan Line Wharf, Montreal, Canada, courtesy of Norway

The purchase of a first-class ticket entitled the bearer to one berth in a stateroom. Jane and Anna Ri Orcutt probably shared a stateroom. Clinton Orcutt either paid to have a stateroom to himself or shared with another passenger. If the Orcutt family followed guidebooks’ advice, they would have chosen staterooms away from the pantries, the machinery, and away from the toilet rooms.[36] They probably selected good-sized cabins on the upper deck or the middle of the deck, as there was less motion than at either end.

The only images I found that depict the interior of Allan Line ships, show the second class cabins, music room, dining room, smoke room and the promenade. [37]

Passengers were advised to arrive early at the steamer and settle in their cabins by unpacking only the items necessary for the journey and safely stowing the remainder in their steamer trunk. Due to the salty spray from the ocean, women were advised to change into the “frock” they would wear for the voyage. [38]Next, one should ring for the cabin stewardess, maker her acquaintance, “and ask her to send the bath stewardess. Say to her that you hope to take a bath each day and choose the hour which will suit you best.” [39]

Montreal, Canada – Allan Line Illustrated Tourist’s Guide to Canada and the United States,

If the ship followed procedure, it departed at daylight from Montreal to Quebec on the magnificent St. Lawrence River and then into the North Atlantic. The weather forecast for the 8th of June was cloudy and cool with rain later in the day. Perhaps the Orcutts and Mrs. Blackwell went on deck to watch as the great ship pulled out of harbor.

Allan Line Royal Mail Steamers, St. Lawrence route

An advertisement pamphlet for the Allan Line shipping company for 1907 provided more details about routine matters while aboard ship.

  • “Cablegrams and telegrams should be handed to the Purser or his assistant.
  • The Saloon Steward will, on application, supply Stamps, Telegraph Forms, Books of Reference, and Railway Time Tables of the principal companies.
  • An experienced Physician is attached to the Steamer. For medical attendance in case of sickness on board, no charge is made, medicines are also provided free of charge. But the Ship’s Physician is allowed to charge the usual fees to travellers who submit themselves to treatment for maladies not contracted during the voyage.
  • Questions relating to Baggage should be referred to the Third Officer, who is the Ship’s Baggage Master. Trunks or rugs which passengers may desire to leave in charge of the Company should be properly labeled to the Baggage master on the wharf at Liverpool or Montreal, and such articles will be stored entirely at the owner’s risk. It is necessary for passengers themselves to see all their Baggage passed by the Customs Authorities on landing.
  • Deck chairs can be hired from the Purser.
  • It is desirable that valuables or money should be placed in charge of the Purser for deposit in his safe. As no charge is made for carriage, the Company can accept no responsibility for loss or damage, however arising, but passengers can protest themselves by insurance.”[40]

Once the ship was underway, the passengers could contact the purser to inquire about the table where they would dine and express a preference to dine with friends. Life aboard the ship was regulated by bells, including mealtimes. Although I could not find a specific menu for the Australasian, I located one for an Allan Line ship from 1906. [41]

Porridge with Fresh Milk or Maple SyrupGerman SoupCold Meats
Loch Fyne HerringRoast Veal, Lemon SaucePreserved Salmon
Beef Steaks and OnionsRoast Goose, Apple SauceFindon Haddie
Liver and BaconHaricot MuttonCottage Pie
Curried Mutton and RicePotatoesSalad
Irish StewParsnipsFresh Bread
Fresh RollsSago PuddingToast
ToastStewed Prunes and RiceSugar Buns
JamJam PuffsBiscuits
The Allan Line: information for passengers, 1907

Every guidebook offered tips to combat seasickness. Fresh air was the best preventative, but if dry biscuits, cotton in the ears, a pinch of baking soda, powdered charcoal after each meal, sniffing ammonia before meals, drinking plenty of hot water, or a diet of well-masticated beef for the first three days didn’t cure you, then passengers could consult the ship’s physician.


While aboard the ship, the Orcutts took three photographs. When I examined the first image, I thought Jane had simply taken a picture of the ocean. After scanning and lightening the image, I realized she had spotted an iceberg, not uncommon when crossing the Atlantic in June. Look for the large white object in the photograph below.

Photograph from Jane Orcutt’s album of the Atlantic Ocean, the white object is an iceberg.

It may have taken the passengers a few days to get their sea legs and enjoy life on an ocean steamer. Sociability on board included playing games such as shuffleboard, ring toss, cards, chess, telling storytelling, or relaxing on a deck chair. The latter could be rented for a dollar for the voyage. The occupant could place their calling card into a little frame on the back and tie a colorful ribbon to easily identify it and deter squatters. The joy of “plain straight loafing is accomplished with the utmost satisfaction when one is stretched out on a steamer chair, warmly wrapped, basking in the sun, on the leeward side of the promenade deck.”[42]

Three dapper men relaxing in deck chairs aboard the Australasian June 1901. Photograph in author’s possession

Jane’s final picture aboard the ship depicts an unknown woman and a crew member. Unfortunately, Jane’s photography skills needed some honing. Most of her photographs are rather dark, and blurry.

Young woman and crew member aboard the RMS Australasian, June 1901, photograph in possession of author.


The average length of the journey from Montreal to Liverpool was seven days, but on this trip the Australasian took ten days to cross the pond. The ship’s manifest noted an arrival of June 18. The Liverpool Daily Post noted the arrival of the “Allan steamer Australasian, from Montreal and Quebec, arrived in the Mersey (Liverpool) at 3:45 p.m.” [43] The weather forecast for the day was “moderate northerly winds, slight rain in places, then clearer, brighter, but not settled.”[44]

The Orcutts and Mrs. Blackwell had arrived in England, a good place to commence their tour of Europe, a tip advised by Mary Cadwallader Jones. “Every American who leaves his own country should begin by going to England. In the first place, while the transition is marked enough, it is less violent than if one is suddenly pitchforked into a place where the language, as well as all the customs, are unfamiliar; and then, although we have become different in some ways from the English, we are many of us descended directly from them and have a common inheritance in their past.”[45]

Landing Stage at Liverpool,

As the Orcutts and Mrs. Blackwell disembarked did they have the same thoughts expressed by Clarissa Sands Arnold upon her arrival in Liverpool?

“To think we are really across the Atlantic and have but to look around to find ourselves to be hurrying off the Steamer onto the tug to be brought into Liverpool!”

Part II – Gilded Age Girls – The Orcutt’s Grand Tour of Europe – to be continued.


Genealogy Sketch

Clinton Delos ORCUTT

Name: [Clinton Delos ORCUTT -1840-1905
Parents: Daniel Heath ORCUTT 1809-1864 and
Angeline PERKINS 1813-1887
Spouse: Anna Dorcas DUTTON 1842-1899
Children: Louis DeForest ORCUTT -1871-1891, George Dutton ORCUTT 1873-1886, Marion Edith ORCUTT BEATON 1879-1964, Anna Ri ORCUTT JAQUES 1881-1942, and Jane Clare ORCUTT KEELINE 1884-1918
Relationship to Kendra: Great Great-Grandfather

  1. Clinton Delos ORCUTT
  3. Anna Jane BEATON HYDE
  5. Kendra


© 2022 copyright – Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved

  1. Social Chit Chat, Omaha Daily Bee, (Omaha, May 5, 1901, p.6; digital images, ( accessed June 5, 2021).
  2. Our Card Basket, The Excelsior, (Omaha, Nebraska, June 8, 1901, Saturday, p.14. ( : accessed 5 June 2021)
  3. Arnold, Clarissa Sands, Edited by Deborah Stewart Weber (2010). Four Girls in Europe My Tour of England and the Continent, October 1900-September, 1901. Universe, Bloomington, IN. p. xi.
  4. Twain, Mark, 2018. The Innocents Abroad. Sea Wolf Press
  5. Jones, Mary Cadwalader, (1900). European Travel for Women Notes and Suggestions. Norwood Massachusetts, Norwood Press. Digital Books. Google Books. 2007. P.22
  6. Ibid
  7. Addison, Margaret. Diary of a European Tour 1900. Montreal, McGill-Queen’s University Press. 1900. Digital images. Google Books 1999. P. 5-7
  8. The Excelsior, (Omaha, Nebraska, September 21, 1901, Saturday, pg.14, digital images, ( accessed January 21, 2022.)
  9. Cooks Excursionist and Home and Foreign Tourist Advertiser, (1898). Digital Books. Google Books.  P.11.
  10. Ibid
  11. Jones, Mary Cadwalader, (1900). European Travel for Women Notes and Suggestions. Norwood Massachusetts, Norwood Press. Digital Books. Google Books. 
  12. Ibid, p.2.
  13. Ibid, p.33.
  14. Luce, Robert, Going Abroad? Some Advice. Boston, R & L Luce Publisher. 1900. Digital images.  p. 216
  15. Jones, Mary Cadwalader, (1900). European Travel for Women Notes and Suggestions. Norwood Massachusetts, Norwood Press. Digital Books. Google Books. 2007. P.37
  16. Ibid, p41.
  17. Ibid, p.41.
  18. Luce, Robert, Going Abroad? Some Advice. Boston, R & L Luce Publisher. 1900. Digital images.  p. 226
  19. Ibid, p.227.
  20. Jones, Mary Cadwalader, (1900). European Travel for Women Notes and Suggestions. Norwood Massachusetts, Norwood Press. Digital Books. Google Books. 2007. P.53
  21. Ibid, p.38.
  22. Luce, Robert, Going Abroad? Some Advice. Boston, R & L Luce Publisher. 1900. Digital images.  p. 221-222.
  23. Social Chit Chat, Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska, June 9, 1901, pg. 6. Digital images, ( accessed January 13, 2022.)
  24. Social Chit Chat, Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska, May 12, 1901, pg. 6. Digital images, ( accessed January 13, 2022.)
  25. Our Card Basket, The Excelsior, Omaha, Nebraska, June 8, 1901, p.14. Digital images, ( accessed 13 January 2022.)
  26. Social Chit Chat, Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska, May 5, 1901, pg. 6. Digital images, ( accessed January 13, 2022.)
  27. Our Card Basket, The Excelsior, Omaha, Nebraska, June 15, 1901, p.13. Digital images, ( accessed 13 January 2022.)
  28. Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska, June 9, 1901 p.6. Digital images, Chronicling America Library of Congress, ( accessed 23 Jan 2019).
  29. The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 174; Item: 37. Digital Images. :2008.
  30. The Nottingham Evening Post, Nottinghamshire, England, May 9, 1901, pg 3. Digital images, ( accessed 31 May 2022.)
  31. Clyde Shipbuilding Gossip, Dundee Evening Post, Dundee, Scotland, March 2, 1901, p.5. Digital images, ( accessed 31 May 2022.)
  33. The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 174; Item: 37. Digital Images. :2008.
  34. Allan Line to Canada, Allan Line, Canada, 1903. Retrieved from Internet Archive website:
  35. Marine Notes, The Gazette, Montreal, August 13, 1901, pg 10. Digital images. ( accessed 31 May 2022.)
  36. Luce, Robert, Going Abroad? Some Advice. Boston, R & L Luce Publisher. 1900. Digital images.  p. 41-42
  37. Allan Line to Canada, Allan Line, Canada, 1910. Retrieved from Internet Archive website :
  38. [1] Luce, Robert, Going Abroad? Some Advice. Boston, R & L Luce Publisher. 1900. Digital images.  p. 46
  39. Jones, Mary Cadwalader, (1900). European Travel for Women Notes and Suggestions. Norwood Massachusetts, Norwood Press. Digital Books. Google Books. 2007. P.75
  40. The Allan line: information for passengers, list of saloon passengers, Liverpool to Quebec and Montreal, Friday, April 27 1907. (p.2) Retrieved from Internet Archive website:
  42. Luce, Robert, Going Abroad? Some Advice. Boston, R & L Luce Publisher. 1900. Digital images.  p. 46
  43. Mail and Ship News, Liverpool Daily Post, Liverpool, Merseyside, England, June 19, 1901, pg5. Digital images,, ( : accessed June 1, 2022.)
  44. Weather Forecasts, Evening Standard, London, Greater London, England, June 18, 1901, pg. 1. Digital images, ( : accessed 1 June 2022.)
  45. Jones, Mary Cadwalader, (1900). European Travel for Women Notes and Suggestions. Norwood Massachusetts, Norwood Press. Digital Books. Google Books. 2007. P.17
  46. Arnold, Clarissa Sands, Edited by Deborah Stewart Weber (2010). Four Girls in Europe My Tour of England and the Continent, October 1900-September, 1901. Universe, Bloomington, IN. p. 1.

Posted in My Family Ancestry | Tagged | 4 Comments

OMAHA SOCIETY WEDDING – (Marion Edith Orcutt & Alfred James Beaton)

Marion Edith Orcutt Beaton, wedding photograph, October 1899, Omaha, Nebraska. Hermann Heyn Photographer. Photograph in possession of author.

Twenty-one-year-old Edith Orcutt and her twenty-seven-year-old fiancee Alfred Beaton had a secret engagement for five years before the official announcement of their betrothal. When and where my great-grandparents met remains a mystery. The Orcutt and Beaton families moved in different social circles. While Edith came from a well-to-do family, Alfred worked as a clerk at the Omaha Carpet Company. An ambitious young man, Alfred started work at age eleven as an office boy; he eventually became president of the Beaton-Laier furniture company with some financial assistance from his father-in-law, Clinton Orcutt.

Perhaps Edith and Alfred met because they lived only half a mile from one another. Edith lived with her father, a widower, and two younger sisters at 550 S. 26th Street, Omaha, Nebraska. Alfred lived at home with his widowed mother (Mary Ann McDonald Beaton) and four brothers (Frank, Charles, Paul, and John) at 209 S. 28th. Avenue. The Beaton family may have walked near Edith’s house each Sunday when they attended mass at St. Peter’s Catholic Church.

Alfred’s Beaton ancestors were Scottish Catholics who immigrated from Lochaber, Scotland, to East Point, Prince Edward Isles, Canada. In 1873, when Alfred was one-year-old, his parents (Allen Beaton and Mary Ann Beaton, nee MacDonald) immigrated to the United States. First, they moved to Boston, Massachusetts. Then in 1875, they followed the expanding railroads and moved to Schuyler, Nebraska. Finally, in 1878 they settled in Omaha, Nebraska. Two years later, in 1880, Allen Beaton passed away. His widow, Mary Ann, was left with five boys between two and eleven.

Alfred and his older brother, Frank, likely had to leave school and discontinue their education to contribute to the family income by working at small jobs. In 1883, when Alfred was eleven-years-old, he was listed as an office boy. The Omaha city directories provided insight into Alfred’s determination to improve his condition in life. By age seventeen, in 1889, he worked as a bookkeeper at Omaha Carpet Company, eventually becoming a salesman and carpet merchant. He continued to live at home and support his mother and younger brothers, assisting two of his brothers to attend Creighton University. However, Alfred did not enjoy the comfortable lifestyle of his fiancee nor have the advantage of exclusive education.

Although the Orcutts weren’t Catholic, they did send their three daughters to a Catholic girls school. Duchesne Sacred Heart Academy, known for its high academics and its rigid social training, would become a family tradition. Three generations of my family attended the school.

The Orcutts had a long tradition with the Congregational church. Edith’s mother, Anna (Dutton) Orcutt, descended from multiple generations of Congregational ministers and Deacons. Edith’s grandfather, Thomas Dutton, studied and trained at Yale Divinity School, the same as his father, Reverand Aaron Dutton. Given their different religious affiliations, Alfred and Edith probably didn’t meet at a church social.

Perhaps, Edith and Alfred met through a mutual friend. Society columns noted on at least two occasions that they attended the same party, including Edith’s farewell party before she attended her “finishing” year of education at Maryville, Sacred Heart Academy in St. Louis, Missouri. I’ll likely never know how they met, but I did discover information about their engagement and wedding.


Note written by Anna Jane (Beaton) Hyde, Edith’s daughter. Edith’s nickname – “Dee Dee”.

Edith was still a schoolgirl when Alfred gave her a heart-shaped gold locket engraved with “MEO” (Marian Edith Orcutt). She hadn’t yet made her debut into society and knew her parents would disapprove of the engagement. So she hid the locket beneath her dress, according to a story she told her daughter and wrote in a letter. The locket contained a photograph of Alfred, his initials “AJB,” and the date 8-24-94. Based on the inscription, Edith was 15 when Alfred gave her a token of his love. Five years later, on August 27, 1899, the couple announced their engagement.

Engagement announcement for Marion Edith Orcutt to Alfred James Beaton. August 27, 1889. Omaha World-Herald,

The engagement of Miss Marion Edith Orcutt, daughter of Mr. C.D. Orcutt, to Mr. Alfred J. Beaton is announced.”[1]


A Fashionable Wedding” is how the Omaha Daily Bee described the wedding of Marion Edith Orcutt to Alfred James Beaton on October 18, 1899. The event took place at the home of the bride on a Wednesday evening at 8 o’clock. At the turn of the century, wedding traditions differed from what we are accustomed to today. Instead of a weekend wedding, many took place on weekdays. “Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays were the most popular choices.”[2] Edith and Alfred chose the middle of the week. They also decided to marry at the bride’s home, very traditional for the time. The wedding was a quiet one, owing to the death of Edith’s mother in January of that year.

Residence of Clinton Orcutt, 550. S 26th Street, Omaha, NE. “Omaha Illustrated: a History of the Pioneer Period and the Omaha of Today.”

“One of the beautiful affairs of the week was the wedding of Miss Marion Edith Orcutt, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clinton D. Orcutt, to Mr. Alfred J. Beaton, which took place Wednesday at the home of the bride. The decorations of the house were on the most elaborate plan, and were a most fitting background for the lovely gowns of the bridal party and guests. In the hall the musicians were screened behind a quantity of palms and smilax; in the parlor was a gorgeous canopy of smilax, from which hung three wedding bells made of carnations and roses; one bell of pink and two of white. The mantels were also banked in the pink roses and the room illuminated by candles under pink shades. Pink and white roses banked the piano in the music room, and the library was profusely decked in magnificent American Beauty roses. The dining room presented a gorgeous picture. A huge basket of pink roses on an elaborate centerpiece of Mexican drawn work, placed over pink silk, adorned the center of the table. From the chandelier above strands of smilax extended to the pink shaded candles which made a circle on the round table. Just under the chandelier hung a brass wedding bell of great value, connected by strands of smilax to the brass candle sticks. The settee upon which the bride and groom sat for refreshments was of gilt and placed under a canopy of lace. Hundreds of roses and smilax, artistically arranged about the room completed the exquisite effect.

The wedding procession was on no less an elaborate plan. Rev. Father J.E. English of St. Peter’s church entered the parlor, followed by eight young girls who, with pink satin ribbon, formed an aisle for the bridal party. They were Ada Kirkendall, Jeanne Wakefield, Marion Haller, Marion Connell, Ethel Palmer, Vivian McDowell, Grace Thurston, Blanche Kinsler, and Blanche Brady. Their gowns were of white, with stocks and belts of pink. At the head of the bridal party walked the groom with his best man, Mr. Charles Beaton. Then came the ring bearer, Miss Jennie Clare Orcutt, the two bridesmaids, Miss Bessie Towle of this city and Miss Bessie Baum of Pittsburg, and the maid of honor, Miss Anna R. Orcutt, sister of the bride. She wore a handsome white organdie with a deep flounce of accordion pleating. The bodice was entirely of fine tucks and real lace insertion worn over white taffeta. She carried a large bouquet of bridesmaid roses tied with broad pink satin streamers whose ends fell to the bottom of the skirt. The bridesmaids and ring bearer all looked as lovely and stately as bridesmaids could look, in beautiful gowns of white organdie, elaborately trimmed in lace and accordion pleatings, and carring pink roses.

After little Miss Eunice Beaton, the sweet flower girl, came the bride on the arm of her father. She wore a creation of pearl satin trimmed in exquisite duchesse lace: her veil, which was fastened by a diamond brooch, fell about her like a cloud, and she carried a shower of bride roses. A pretty girl at all times, she was a vision on this important occasion.

The ceremony was witnessed by many friends and followed by a reception. The presents were especially handsome. Mr. and Mrs. Beaton left on a late train for the south.”[3]


Marriage Certificate for Alfred Beaton and Marion Edith Orcutt – October 18, 1899, Omaha, Nebraska

The wedding announcement mentioned that the “presents were especially handsome.” Gift registries didn’t exist in 1899, and presents were usually decorative items. The only gifts to survive are two romantic figurines.

Figurines- wedding gifts to Edith Orcutt and Alfred Beaton – October 18, 1899.


During the reception, the bride and groom experienced a mid-west tradition they hadn’t anticipated nor welcomed – a shivaree.Known also as serenading or belling, a shivaree is a noisy, rowdy, and often bawdy community celebration of a marriage.”[4]


“As a finale to the ceremonies of the wedding of Alfred J. Beaton to Miss Marion Edith Orcutt at 550 South Twenty-sixth street last evening, a mob of West Side hoodlums came around as a charivari crowd, and proceeded to make the night hideous with unusual noises. The leader was given an apparently satisfactory sum to appease the third of the crowd and it departed only to return in a few minutes more clamorous than before, vowing that the leader had eloped with the cash.

After the charivari party had promised that it had confidence in the new leader, he was given money also for the crowd. In a half-hour the mob returned for the third time. Upon being refused a third contribution, the crowd began pounding the house till the plastering began to fall from the walls. Then Patrolman Edgar Hill went around with a club, which was to all intents quite satisfactory, for the crowd quickly departed and didn’t return.”[5]

Soon after their wedding, the young couple departed on a train headed south for their honeymoon. Unfortunately, the newspaper article didn’t state where in the south the Beaton’s spent their honeymoon. Two weeks later, on November 5th, the newlyweds returned to Omaha to live with Edith’s father and two sisters, Anna Ri and Jane Clare.


Edith and Alfred had a wedding album to commemorate their marriage; only one photograph has survived. Unfortunately, Edith’s second husband, George Utendorfer, was a jealous man and destroyed her wedding album.

Hermann Heyn’s portrait studio took the wedding photograph of Edith. An important portrait photographer in Omaha, Nebraska, from the 1880s through the 1920s, he is nationally noted for more than 500 images of Native Americans, mostly Sioux. Copies of the photographs are in the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Native American Museum. The bulk of the photographs were taken at the Indian Congress of Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition (1898) and the Greater American Exposition (1899), both held in Omaha, Nebraska. [6]

The Heyn’s portrait studio won the silver cup – first prize- for grand portraiture at the Nebraska state and interstate photographer’s convention in the summer of 1899.[7]

© 2022 copyright – Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved


Genealogy Sketch

Name: [Marion Edith ORCUTT BEATON UTTENDORFER -1879-1964
Parents: Clinton Delos ORCUTT 1840-1905 and
Anna Dorcas DUTTON ORCUTT 1841-1891
Spouse: *Alfred James BEATON 1872-1916 and George Newll UTTENDORFER 1887-1972
Children: Anna Jane BEATON HYDE -1907-1998 and Orcutt Phillip BEATON 1900-1971
Relationship to Kendra: Great-Grandmother

  2. Anna Jane BEATON HYDE
  4. Kendra


  1. Society, Omaha World-Herald, (Omaha, 27 August, 1899, Vol XXXIV, Issue 331, p12; digital images, Genealogy Bank ( : accessed 21 June 2021).
  2. Connie Williams, “Weddings have changed but many traditions remain the same,” ( : accessed 15 June 2021).
  3. “Society,” Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, 29 October 1899, Vol XXXV, Issue 29); digital images, Genealogy Bank ( : accessed 10 June 2021).
  4. Michael Taft, “Shivaree”, Encyclopedia of the Great Plains David J. Wishart, Ed. Accessed 19 June 2021 at (…)
  5. “Hoodlums Hold Up a Groom”, (Omaha World-Herald (Omaha) 19 October 1899, Vol XXXV Issue 19, p3); digital images, Genealogy Bank ( : accessed 15 May 2021.
  6. Byron Harvey, III Collection of Exposition and Portrait photographs, Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian Online Virtual Archives, ( : accessed 22 June 2021.
  7. “Heyn’s Free Gift Another Month” Omaha Daily Bee, (Omaha) 27 Aug 1899, p20, col 2 : digitial images, ( : accessed 9 June 2021).
Posted in Biographies, Heirlooms, My Family Ancestry, Photographs | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments


This gallery contains 3 photos.

Growing up during the Gilded Age, the Orcutt sisters, Edith, Anna Ri, and Jane, filled their calendars with ladies-of-leisure activities. Fortunately for my research, the Orcutts figured prominently in the Omaha newspaper society columns, as did their peers. The society … Continue reading

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GILDED AGE GIRLS- Three Orcutt Sisters in Omaha

The Orcutt family packed up and left Durant, Iowa, on August 13, 1887, bound for Omaha, Nebraska, where opportunities beckoned. Shortly after they moved into their elegant new home, Edith Orcutt, my maternal great-grandmother, celebrated her eighth birthday. She had two younger sisters, Anna Ri, age six, and Jane Clare “Jennie,” age three, and one older brother Louis, age sixteen. Now school age, the girls would benefit from the educational choices offered in a larger city. Their father, Clinton Orcutt, a self-made man, and entrepreneur understood the advantages of social contacts and private education. The girls’ mother, Anna Dutton Orcutt, descended from a long line of Yale-educated Congregationalist ministers, including her father, Reverand Thomas Dutton. The Orcutts had the financial means to provide the best of everything for their daughters, including an elite school.


Park Place, Sacred Heart Academy, 1894, Omaha, Nebraska, used with permission by Duchesne Sacred Heart Academy Archives.

Like many of their peers, Clinton and Anna Orcutt chose a private school for their daughters. A good school would train their daughters with a classical education and “distinguished manners.” Many wealthy families sent their daughters to school in the East. But there were two primary choices for those who preferred a local school. One option was Brownell Hall, founded by the Episcopal Church in 1867. Another choice was Duchesne Sacred Heart Academy (known as Park Place), a Catholic girls school founded in 1881. The Orcutts chose the latter and started a family tradition that lasted three generations.

As members of the Congregational Church, the Orcutts may have had a few qualms about sending their girls to a Catholic school, but Duchesne, known for its high academics and social graces, impressed them. Moreover, the rigid training would prepare the girls for every phase of life.

Advertisement for Academy of the Sacred Heart, Park Place Omaha, 1893,

“The Sacred Heart Academy for day pupils…is an institution devoted to the moral and intellectual education of young girls…Difference of religion is no obstacle to the teaching of pupils, provided they conform to the general regulations of the school.”[1]

Constructed on the highest hill in Omaha, the Academy of the Sacred Heart at Park Place, provided a beautiful view of the city. The substantial brick building was 144 feet long, 81 feet wide, and five stories high.[2] The view below depicts the school and contented cows in a nearby pasture.

Sacred Heart Academy, Park Place, used with permission by Duchesne Archives, Omaha, Nebraska.

The Omaha Daily Herald for November 1882 described the opening ceremony for the Sacred Heart Academy, which included descriptions of the interior.

“The ground story is occupied by the dining room, kitchen, laundry, storerooms, feed and boiler rooms, and bathrooms and water closets. The stairways run from basement to attic, and an elevator for trunks and baggage connects all stories. The dining room is furnished tastefully and has a bay window facing east, making an inviting room which will accomodate a hundred people.

The first story is entered by a flight of broad stone steps, opening into a large vestibule, paved with tiles, and leading into a spcaious hallway. A parlor stands at the south side, and two other parlors and a private parlor are located at the north side of the hall. The parlors are furnished with Brussels carpet, marble mantels, steam radiator, and walnut furniture, all inviting apartments.

North of the parlors is the society, fitted with a rich vestment case. Beyond this and occupying the northeast corner is the Chapel. Three stained glass windows stand back of the altar, and the altar itself is beautifully carved and gilded. Statues of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph surmount the side altars. Black walnut pews and a fine large organ complete the furniture.

The second story is occupied by the classrooms, recitation rooms and music rooms, and studio, the larger classrooms standing over the Chapel.

The third story is divided into private rooms for the students, dormitories, and apartments for the community of the sisters.”[3]

Duchesne, Sacred Heart Chapel circa 1896, photo in possession of author.

Some of the students boarded at the Sacred Heart Academy, while others, such as the Orcutt sisters, were day pupils. Edith, Anna Ri, and Jane had a short distance – two miles- to travel from their home at 550 S. 26th Street to Duchesne, located at 36th and Burt Street.

The Omaha City Directory for 1885 noted that “The scholastic year commences on the first Wednesday in September. Classes commenced at 10 a.m., and pupils were dismissed at 3:30 p.m. References are required from all persons unknown to the institution.”[4]

Since the Orcutt girls were unknown to the Sacred Heart Academy, who provided the references for them? A business associate of Clinton Orcutt, a friend, or perhaps a neighbor?

Edith Orcutt 1888, age nine, Omaha, Nebraska, photograph in author’s possession.

Registration books for day students recorded that Edith commenced her education on September 10, 1889, at age ten. A year later, in 1890, nine-year-old Anna Ri joined her sister. Then, on September 6, 1892, the youngest child, Jane Clare, age seven, accompanied her sisters to Duchesne. [5] I contacted the archivist at Duchesne, who generously shared registration documents and several photographs featured in this blog.

Dressed neatly in black high-necked ankle-length dresses, with their hair combed straight back, Duchesne students appear in a photograph with the Mother Superior Margaret Dunne in the center.

Duchesne Sacred Heart Academy, Omaha, Nebraska, reproduced with permission by Duchesne Archives.

Information from Sacred Heart archives described the regimen practiced in the Sacred Heart Schools when the Orcutt girls attended. “One such custom was the use of a wooden signal whose dry clack, to which decorous ranks obediently moved about the school in a strictly enforced silence.”[6] In addition, the girls learned to curtsey to the Superior and the Mistress General and rise as the nuns entered the room. When I mentioned these routines to my mother, who attended Duchesne in the 1940s-1950s, she distinctly recalled the sound of the clacker, quietly processing the hallways, and the required curtsies to the nuns.

A daily schedule would include morning prayers, spiritual reading, Mass, and classes broken by fifteen minutes of recreation. During mealtimes, the girls remained silent while a student read a suitable book aloud, such as Dickens, Thackeray, or James Fenimore Cooper.[7]

A special event remembered by every student who attended a Sacred Heart school was the “Grand Congé,” an event looked forward to weeks in advance and reminisced for weeks after it passed. [8] Congé is a French word for ‘leave taking’ or farewell. At Sacred Heart schools, the Congé is a holiday at school; students leave their studies and channel their energy to celebration and fun.[9] My mother recalls this event fondly, as I’m sure my great-grandmother and her sisters did.

In 1890, when Edith was eleven years old, Duchesne included 100 students, a faculty of eighteen “very efficient teachers,” plus thirteen staff employed in the care of domestic matters.[10] It is also the year that all students were required to take Latin, formerly an optional course. Duchesne’s comprehensive education, which lasted eight years, included the following subjects:

“Reading, penmanship, grammar, rhetoric, orthography, etymology, geography, United States history, ancient and modern history, universal literature, zoology, physics, botany, chemistry, geology, astronomy, mineralogy, logic, intellectual and moral philosophy, needlework, languages, drawing, painting, music, both vocal and instrumental, harp, piano, violin, guitar, and organ.”[11]

Sacred Heart Academy did not neglect “physical culture” and calisthenics; they too were part of the curriculum.

I found an advertisement that included the fees to attend Duchesne in 1885. The Omaha City Directory for 1885 listed the tuition and associated costs. Day pupils would have paid less than students who boarded. The tuition costs remained the same in 1889 advertisements.[12] Using an online inflation calculator, the $215/semester fee, per child, in 1890 would cost approximately $6,566.00 today.

“Terms payable in advance: Including board, washing, Tuition, and Instrumental Music, also French of five months, $150.00. Painting, $30, Drawing, $20, German $15, Vocal Music, $20.[13]

Religious education was a part of the Sacred Heart Education, but converting to Catholocism was optional. Only Jane converted and made her First Communion and Confirmation of the three sisters. Photos of Jane’s First Communion depict Jane and five classmates. In the center photograph, Jane is in the back row on the right.

Jane received a star-shaped medal, neatly preserved in the original jewelry box, that was awarded on Prize Day, an end-of-the-year celebration honoring achievements. Engraved on the top is “Sacred Heart Academy, June 23, ’96.” Jane’s nickname, “Jennie C. Orcutt, ” is inscribed across the middle.”

Curious about the manufacturer, I discovered that the W.J. Feeley Company, Jewelers, and Silversmiths, located in Chicago, made ecclesiastical wares and medals in gold, silver, and brass.[14]


All of the Orcutt sisters expressed an interest in music and art. Their mother, Anna, played the piano and occasionally gave lessons, including perhaps to her daughters. Edith probably chose to take painting classes, evidenced by her interest in art, which I wrote about in a previous blog. In addition, a newspaper article from 1893 indicates that she took vocal classes. During the commencement exercises for 1893, Edith sang and “distinguished herself as Miriam” in the original operetta “A Woodland Dream.”[15]

Anna Ri expressed an interest in music and vocal classes. She performed at the Sacred Heart commencement exercises in 1894, where she sang a solo cantata, “In the Glenn.” The paper described her voice as “well developed, which promises much in mature years.”[16] She also played the mandolin and performed during her final year of school at the 1898 commencement.

At the June 1896 commencement, eleven-year-old Jane presented the salutatory, “whose pleasing manner and expressive delivery charmed her audience.” Her older sister, Anna Ri, performed in a drama, “A Page from Roman History.” She displayed “much taste and a correct conception of the character.”[17]

The girls also took private singing lessons from a Canadian-born music teacher, Miss Margaret Boulter, as noted in a newspaper article from 1899.[18]


Many wealthy young women spent their final year of education, the “finishing” year, at a private school in the East, Midwest, or overseas. It prepared them to play their role in society. The three Orcutt sisters chose three different Academies for their final year. Edith decided to attend Maryville in St. Louis, Missouri. Anna Ri, who was more adventurous than her older sister, decided to venture farther away and went to Loretto Academy in Denver, Colorado. Perhaps family vacations in the Colorado mountains enticed her to continue her studies there. Finally, when Jane’s turn came, she traveled the farthest distance, over 1260 miles, to Kenwood Sacred Heart Academy in Albany, New York.

Surprisingly, only Jane completed her education and graduated from a Sacred Heart Academy. Edith and Anna Ri spent their final year away from home but chose not to undergo the more rigorous examinations necessary for graduation. In speaking with a Sacred Heart archivist, I learned this was not uncommon.


Postcard Academy of Sacred Heart, Maryville, postcard in author’s possession.

In September 1895, fifteen-year-old Edith traveled 415 miles by train to Maryville, Sacred Heart Academy, accompanied by her father, Clinton Orcutt. As a boarding student, she brought with her: black uniform dresses, six regular changes of linen, six table linens, six toilet towels, two pairs of blankets, three pairs of sheets, a pillow, three pillowcases, one white counterpane, a rug, or piece of carpeting, a goblet, two silver spoons, knife, fork, work-box, and dressing-case.[19] All of this could fit quite nicely in the travel trunk her father purchased from the Omaha Trunk company, which I wrote about previously.

Several newspaper articles provided details about Edith’s departure and her visits home over the holidays.

Where Will They Study – Already trunks are being packed, and our boys and girls who have helped to enliven and brighten the hot summer days, are beginning to think of leaving for their schools and colleges, which are about to reopen. After their summer’s rest and recreation, they will be more fit to encounter the struggles of the coming year. Quite a number have gone already, and others are taking their departures daily.”[20]

The Provincial Archivist for the Society of the Sacred Heart United States- Canada Province shared the registration book that listed Edith Orcutt as a student at Maryville from September 1895-June 1896. In addition, she included a copy of the Maryville school journal for that year with details of student life, plus a few photographs of the school.

The first journal entry for September 1895 noted the commencement of the school year and the student’s arrival. [21]

Maryville Sacred Heart Academy journal for 1895, Used with permission of the Society of the Sacred Heart, United-States-Canada
  • Sept 3rd Sixty-four pupils enter the first evening.
  • Sept 4th Fifteen pupils enter, including nine-day scholars.
  • Sept 8th Feast of the Nativity – Eighty-five pupils in the house.

Edith Orcutt’s name appears as #35 in the registration book. Some registers provide much more information, but unfortunately, for 1895, only the name and place are listed.

Maryville Sacred Heart Academy registration book 1895- Used with permission of the Society of the Sacred Heart, United-States-Canada

Most journal entries provide detailed accounts of various Feast days in the liturgical year and the girls’ participation in processions and religious events. Other entries noted the vacation and examination days. After one month of school, the students had their first break at the beginning of October for Fair Week. Edith, who developed a habit of early departures and late arrivals, left school early to attend a social function in Omaha. The society columns for the Omaha World-Herald on Friday, September 20, described Edith’s attendance at the first Ak-Sar-Ben Ball to be held in Omaha. (Ak-Sar-Ben is Nebraska spelled backward.)

Descriptions of the Gorgeous Costumes worn at the Ball. Miss Edith Orcutt, delicate pink moire silk, cream lace, and pearls.”[22] After nearly two weeks at home, the paper reported, “Mr. C.D. Orcutt and Miss Edith left yesterday [October 5] for St. Louis, where Miss Edith attends the Convent of Sacred Heart at Maryville.”[23]

Christmas vacation commenced at Maryville on December 21, 1895. Once again, Edith returned home early. The Omaha World-Herald listed her return to Omaha on December 20. She hastened home to attend a large and formal dancing party held in honor of her sister Anna Ri.

The Maryville Journal entry for January 2, 1896, stated: “Return from the Christmas vacation – a few are tardy.”[25] Yes, Edith was one of those tardy students; she remained home until January 14. “Miss Edith Orcutt left for St. Louis last evening (January 14), where she will continue her studies at the school of the Sacred Heart.”[26]

Maryville Sacred Heart Academy journal for 1896, Used with permission of the Sacred Heart, United States-Canada

Was Edith prepared for the French examinations held on January 22nd, 24th, and 25th, followed by the arithmetic and English examinations on the 27th? Perhaps not. A notation in the school journal stated, “With the exception of one class, all showed a marked improvement giving evidence of solid, serious work.”[27]

February brought the delight of a Sacred Heart tradition, the Congé, “a day for students to take leave of the rigors of their studies and their seriousness of purpose to bring forth and experience joy.”[28] Edith and her classmates celebrated the day by sharing the occasion with twenty little orphans from St. Mary’s Asylum. The chief feature of the day was a pretty play, “Elisha’s Burglar,” enacted in the afternoon.[29]

April 3, 1896, the Maryville students returned home briefly for their Easter vacation. Easter in 1896 fell on April 5; the students had to report back to school by April 7. Again, it seems that Edith may have stayed home longer than permitted. The Omaha Daily Bee noted in the “Friendly Gossip” column on Sunday, April 12, that “Miss Edith Orcutt has been spending the Easter holidays at home.”[30]

June brought the final examinations for the year from the 15th-17th with satisfactory results. A final program for the graduates held on June 18 included music by Mozart, an operetta, an essay, a polonaise, and the bestowal of graduating honors on six young women. Unfortunately, Edith was not on the list of names.

Maryville Sacred Heart Academy journal for 1896, Used with permission of the Sacred Heart, United States-Canada

Meanwhile back at the Academy of the Sacred Heart, the annual commencement exercises took place on June 20. Had Edith graduated then she might have experienced something similar.

“On entering the hall, a spectacle of bewildering beautymet the eye; a carpet of dainty shades of blue and gray, mingled with gold, covered the floor, while a profusion of palms and ferns and draperies of cream lace formed a pretty background to tthe groups of children in pure white dresses and ribbgons. The stage presented a garden scene opening out from a marble terrace, whose ascent was an embankment of trailing vines and potted plants. Marble urns of palms and and other tropical foliage ornamented the terrace here and there, while arched above, an entanglement of ferns, smilax, and white blossoms gave an exquisite finish. Admiring the artistic taste displayed in the decoration, especially in the scenery painting, where brooks, grasses, and trees seemed real, one felt a deep regret that many lovers of art were excluded from such a treat, as according to the established custom, the list of invitations is limited to the clergy.

The entertainment opened with the overture from Reinlike, which was given with a skill and brilliance that elecited well-deserved applause.

The second number of the program was a bright little operetta, which was exceptionally well-rendered; the voices were good, and the singing and acting showed a correctness that is only attained by long and thorough training. Miss Jennie Orcutt was charming as the little princess.”[31]

After Edith returned home in June 1896, she occupied herself with social engagements, travel, painting, and plans for her engagement and marriage to Alfred James Beaton.


Reproduced with the permission of the Loretto Heritage Center

At age sixteen, Anna Ri embarked on her “finishing” year at Loretto Heights in Denver, Colorado. Her father likely accompanied her on the train trip to Denver in September 1897. Unfortunately, researching Anna Ri and her education at Loretto Heights Academy did not yield as much information as I found for her sister Edith. However, three small news clippings mentioned Anna Ri’s trips to Denver.

The first, September 1897, noted that during the summer, “…the Misses Orcutt [resided in] Colorado Springs, COl.”[32] The second article, Sunday, January 9, 1898, stated that “Miss [Edith] Orcutt has returned from Denver, where she left her sister at school at Loretto Heights.”[33] And the third announced Anna Ri’s return from Loretto in June 1898. “Miss Anna Ri Orcutt is expected home next Friday from Loretto Heights academy at Denver.”[34]

Loretto Heights, Denver, Colorado. Reproduced with the permission of the Loretto Heritage Center

I contacted the Director of the Loretto Heritage Center for information and photographs. She gave me permission to include images of the school, making it easier to envision what Anna Ri saw when she attended the school.

Loretto Heights, Denver, Colorado. Reproduced with the permission of the Loretto Heritage Center

Located in southwest Denver, Loretto Heights Academy, a Catholic boarding school for girls operated by the Sisters of Loretto, opened in 1891. The Romanesque style main building is an imposing three-story red sandstone structure with a steeply pitched gabled roof. The central tower rises to a height of more than 160 feet.[35] The round arch at the base of the tower is of “intricately carved sandstone with the Loretto moto ‘FIDES, MORES, CULTURA’ [Faith, Moral Integrity, and Cultivation of Culture] inscribed in very large letters. The building included a gymnasium, two dining rooms, a kitchen in the basement, classrooms and a laboratory on the 1st floor, classrooms and administration on the 2nd floor, student dormitories on the 3rd floor, and individual nun and older students’ sleeping rooms and art rooms on the 4th floor.”[34]

Reproduced with the permission of the Loretto Heritage Center

In my search for articles about Loretto, I found one in the Denver Evening Post that listed Anna Ri as a student, but not a graduate. Six young ladies graduated from the Loretto Academy on June 22, 1898, and received their diplomas amid floral decorations, music, and patriotic exercises. In addition, the graduating class presented an original drama entitled the “Columbian Council,” which included interesting dialogues on current topics, all expressed in allegorical form. Musical performances by other students included classical piano pieces, vocals, guitars, and mandoline. Anna Ri, who played the mandolin, performed Il Trovatore by Verdi and received a “crown for literary merit” for her performance, as did many of the other performers.[37]

Denver Evening Post, June 22, 1898

After she completed her “finishing” year, Anna Ri returned home where she became involved in a swirl of social engagements along with her sisters for the next six months. When their mother, Anna Orcutt, died at age 56 from unknown causes on January 12, 1899, the girls entered a period of mourning. Edith age 19, Anna Ri age 17, and 14-year old Jane refrained from all social gatherings for at least six months. Edith took over running the household and mentoring her youngest sister. Jane continued her education at Duchesne, Sacred Heart Academy until she turned seventeen and then departed for her final year of study on the East coast.


Kenwood, Sacred Heart Academy, Albany, New York, 1903, the image in author’s possession.

On Friday, September 12,1902, Clinton Orcutt accompanied his youngest daughter, Jane, to Kenwood Sacred Heart Academy in Albany, New York. Their route probably took them to Chicago and then directly to New York aboard the Chicago and New York Express, all in the luxury of a Pullman car.

“Mr. Clinton D. Orcutt, accompanied by his daughter Miss Jennie, left on Friday for Albany, N.Y., where she will enter Sacred Heart Convent School, Kenwood.”[38]

Kenwood has a longer history than either Duchesne or Loretto. The Sisters of the Sacred Heart went to Albany in 1852. In 1859, the Female Academy of the Sacred Heart purchased 53 acres and the large Rathbone estate house and buildings. In 1867, they tore down the mansion and used the building materials to construct a Gothic-style chapel and school buildings.[3]

I contacted the Communications Coordinator for the Society of the Sacred Heart, United-States-Canada, and obtained permission to include photographs of Kenwood Academy. Likewise, the Editor for the Friends of Albany History website, Julie O’Connor, permitted me to use images from their website that depict the chapel, classrooms, and dormitories. I imagine that the dormitories at Maryville and Loretto might have been similar to those at Kenwood.

As with Anna Ri, I found just a few newspaper articles that provided information about Jane’s final year of study. The first one from the “Society” column in the Omaha Daily Bee provided information that Jane returned to Albany on Monday, January 5, 1903, after spending the Christmas holidays with her family.[40] A second notice on May 31, 1903, announced, “Miss [Anna Ri] Orcutt will leave this week for New York to attend the graduating exercises of Sacred Heart convent, Kenwood, Miss Jane Orcutt being a member of this class.”[41]

By June 28, Jane had returned home. “Miss Jane Orcutt has returned from the east, where she recently graduated.”[42] After her return, the new graduate filled her social calendar with activities: teas, picnics, theater dinners, dances, balls, picnics, sailing parties, horse shows, travel, and her formal debut into society in November 1903.


October 1903 was a special month for Edith and her sisters, aside from their regular social activities. At the end of the month, the alumnae of the Sacred Heart Academy in Omaha held their first annual meeting and elected officers. All former pupils who graduated or finished the first class received invitations. Fifty alumane accepted, including Edith and Jane. Anna Ri does not appear in any of the photographs, perhaps she had a more pressing social engagement.

Duchesne Alumnae 1903, reproduced with permission by Duchesne Archives.
Duchesne Alumnae 1903, reproduced with permission by Duchesne Archives.

The exercises began at 10:00 a.m. with a devotional service, followed by luncheon at noon and a business meeting. The school pupils provided entertainment in the afternoon. [43]

Duchesne Alumnae 1903, reproduced with permission by Duchesne Archives.
Jane Orcutt, Duchesne Alumnae 1903, reproduced with permission by Duchesne Archives.

I don’t know if the Orcutt sisters continued to attend the annual reunions. However, Jane did maintain her connection to the Sacred Heart Academy. In 1915 and 1916, she served as Vice-President of the Alumane Board.[44]


Inspired by her faith and experiences at Duchesne and Kenwood, Jane bequeathed $5000 (worth $92,000 today) to her niece, Anna Jane Beaton, my grandmother, and the only daughter of Edith Orcutt Beaton. Receipt of the inheritance was conditional upon Anna Jane attending a Sacred Heart Academy for seven years. Failure to comply would result in transferring the funds to the academy.[45]

Tragically, Jane, who wrote her will on June 11, 1915, died from an internal hemorrhage due to a tubal pregnancy on March 24, 1918. She left an estate valued at more than $150,000, valued today at $2,760,000.

Anna Jane, who began her studies at Duchesne in 1914 at age seven, completed her education at a Sacred Heart Academy, including four years of college. Like her Aunt Jane, Anna Jane attended a Sacred Heart Academy in New York for one year. She spent her sophomore year at Manhattanville and returned to Duchesne, graduating in 1925.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the blog, my maternal family’s education at Duchesne lasted three generations; my great-grandmother Edith and her sisters, my grandmother Anna Jane, and my mother Jean. It has been rewarding to research and explore the Sacred Heart traditions.

© 2022 copyright – Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved


Genealogy Sketch

Name: [Marion Edith ORCUTT BEATON UTTENDORFER -1879-1964
Parents: Clinton Delos ORCUTT 1840-1905 and
Anna Dorcas DUTTON ORCUTT 1841-1891
Spouse: *Alfred James BEATON 1872-1916 and George Newell UTTENDORFER 1887-1972
Children: Anna Jane BEATON HYDE -1907-1998 and Orcutt Phillip BEATON 1900-1971
Relationship to Kendra: Great-Grandmother

  2. Anna Jane BEATON HYDE
  4. Kendra


  1. Omaha World-Herald, Omaha, Nebraska,  August 6, 1890, online archives ( : accessed 15 December 2021)
  2. Tom Quest. (2017, August). Duchesne College & Academy: A Brief Look at the History of our Building.
  3. “Sacred Heart the Third Large Insitution Founded in the Northwestern Part of the City” Omaha Daily Herald Thursday, Nov 30, 1882 Omaha NE vol XVIII Issue 52, p 8,  online archives ( : accessed 1 December 2021).
  4. “Omaha, Nebraska, Directories, 1885, database, ( : accessed 2 June 2021), entry for Academy of the Sacred Heart), citing “Omaha, Nebraska, J.M. Wolfe, 1885), p. 6.
  5. Archives for the Sacred Heart, Duchesne, Omaha, Nebraska.
  6. “Development of the Studies,” Chapter Three, Kenwood Archives, Society of the Sacred Heart, United States-Canada Province,. p31.
  7. Ibid
  8. Ibid, p34.
  9. “Our Heritage and Traditions.”, 15 Apr. 2021,
  10. “Dusting off the Desks Omaha’s School and Colleges Preparing to Reopen for Many Sutdents.” Omaha World Herald Tuesday, August 19,1890 Omaha, NE Vol XXV Issue 310 Page 8, online archives (https:// genealogy : accessed 10 December 2021.)
  11. “Educational – Sectarian Schools Catholic” Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska,  Thursday Jan 1, 1885 p. 5, online archives ( : accessed 28 November 2021.
  12. “Academy of the Sacred Heart,” Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska, Tuesday, 3 Sept 1889, p.4, online archives, ( : accessed 10 November 2021.)
  13. “Omaha, Nebraska, Directories, 1885, database, ( : accessed 2 June 2021), entry for Academy of the Sacred Heart), citing “Omaha, Nebraska, J.M. Wolfe, 1885), page 6.
  14. The Stylus, Volume IX, Number 7,(Boston College,  April 1, 1896), accessed December 16, 2021,
  15. “Satolli was Present the Prelate attends the Exercises at the Sacred Heart” Omaha World Herald, Omaha, Nebraska, Wed Jun 21 1893 page 8m online archives ( : accessed 8 September 2021.)
  16. “Sacred Heart Academy” Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska,  Thursday June 21, 1894, p. 8, online archives, ( : accessed 10 October 2021.)
  17. “Sacred Heart Commencement” Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska, 24 June 1896, p. 5, online archives, ( : accessed 5 July 2021).
  18. [1] “Musical” Omaha World Herald, Omaha, Nebraska, Sunday Dec 18, 1899 Vol XXXV issue 71 p. 21, online archives, ( : accessed 5 December 2021.)
  19. Omaha, Nebraska,Directories, 1885, database, pg 5, ( : accessed 3 Sept 2021), entry for Academy of the Sacred Heart), citing Omaha, Nebraska,  J.M. Wolfe, Herald Printing, Binding and Electrotyping House.
  20. “Where They Will Study” Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska, Sunday, September 15, 1895, p 5, online archives, ( : accessed 1 December 2021.
  21. Archives for Sacred Heart,  Maryville School Journal 1895-1896, Society of the Sacred Heart United States-Canada Province, St. Louis MO.
  22. “The Ladies Gowns” Omaha World Herald, Omaha, Nebraska, Friday Sept 20, 1895 Vol XXX Issue 353, p. 3, online archives: ( : accessed 8 November 2021.
  23. Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska, 6 October 1895, p.4, online archives, ( : accessed 10 October 2021.)
  24. “From College. Omaha boys and Girls Return Home for the Holidays” Omaha World Herald, Omaha, Nebraska, Friday Dec 20, 1895 Vol XXXI Issue 81 pg 8, online archives, ( : accessed 7 November 2021.)
  25. Archives for Sacred Heart,  Maryville School Journal 1895-1896, Society of the Sacred Heart United States-Canada Province, St. Louis MO.
  26. Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska, January 15, 1896,  p. 8 image 8, online archives, ( : accessed 8 September 2021.)
  27. Archives for Sacred Heart,  Maryville School Journal 1895-1896, Society of the Sacred Heart United States-Canada Province, St. Louis MO.
  28. Susan Tyree Dempft, Ph.D. (2018, February 8). A Sacred Heart Tradition Observed…Congé. : accessed 1 December 2021.
  29. Archives for Sacred Heart,  Maryville School Journal 1895-1896, Society of the Sacred Heart United States-Canada Province, St. Louis MO.
  30. “Friendly Gossip,”  Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska, Sunday April 12, 1896 p. 5, online archives, ( : accessed 16 October, 2021.)
  31. “Sacred Heart Commencement,” The Omaha Evening Bee, Omaha, Nebraska, 20 Jun 1895 Pg 1, online archives, ( : accessed 10 October, 2021.)
  32. “Summer Addresses,” The Excelsior, Omaha, Nebraska,  11 Sep 1897 Saturday, p. 6, online archives, ( : accessed 11 December, 2021.)
  33. “Gossip,” Omaha World-Herald, Omaha, Nebraska, Sunday Jan 9, 1898 Vol XXXIII Issue 101, p. 12, online archives, ( : accessed 27 November 2021.)
  34. “Society,” Omaha World-Herald, Omaha, Nebraska,  Sunday June 19, 1898 Vol XXXIII Issue 262 p. 12, online archives, ( : accessed 10 December 2021.)
  35. Loretto Heigths Academy, Denver County. : accessed 2 December 2021.
  36. Loretto Heights Academy and College 1891-1988 Inventory of Historic Resources and Survey Report,  March 2019,  Prepared by Square Moon Consultancs LLC, PDF download.
  37. “Six Young Ladies Graduate From Loretto Academy” The Denver Evening Post, Denver, Colorado, June 22, 1898 p. 10, online archives, ( : accessed 7 December 2021.)
  38. “Social Chit-Chat” Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska, Sunday Sep 14,1902, p. 7, online archives, ( : accessed 4 December 2021.)
  39. Julie O’Connor, Kenwood and the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Albany (2018 April), accessed 5 November 2021.
  40. “Society” Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska, Sunday Jan 4, 1903, p. 7, online archives, ( : accessed 20 November, 2021.)
  41. Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska, 31 May 1903, Sunday, page 6 , online archives, ( : accessed 5 December 2021.
  42. “Society” Omaha Daily Bee Sunday June 28, 1903 Omaha Nebraska, p. 7, online archives: ( : accessed 20 November 2021.)
  43. “Sacred Heart Alumnae” Omaha Daily News, Omaha, Nebraska, 19 Oct 1903 p. 1, online archives ( : accessed 20 November, 2021.)
  44. “Elect Officers of Sacred Heart Alumni” The Omaha Daily News, Omaha, Nebraska, Jun 21, 1915, p 12, online archives, ( : accessed 12 December 2021.)
  45. “Mrs. Keeline’s Will Filed; Estate More Than $150,000,” Omaha Daily Bee Mar 30 1918, p. 11, online archives, ( : accessed 3 December 2021.)

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Edith Orcutt Beaton circa 1918, Omaha, Nebraska, photo in possession of author.

My mother and grandmother captivated me with tales about my great-grandmother, Edith (Orcutt) Beaton. Her friends called her Edith, but her family used the nickname “Dee Dee.” My grandmother, Anna Jane (Beaton) Hyde, described Edith as “the sweetest mother in the world.” Jean, my mother, remembers her grandmother as calm and easygoing. She has fond memories of visiting Dee Dee at least once a week after school, usually with a friend or two in tow.

After the girls arrived at Edith’s house at 502 N. 40th Street, they scampered up to the second and third floors of the large house to play dress-up. The second floor had a bedroom closet filled with elaborate ball gowns of taffeta, chiffon, and silk. Old trunks contained feather boas, long gloves, imposing hats, and dainty shoes, clothing worn by Edith and her two younger sisters, Anna Ri and Jane when they attended social events. After they selected their attire, the girls climbed the stairs to the third-floor ballroom, where they pranced about in their finery.

A warm, affectionate, and permissive grandmother, Dee Dee allowed Jean, the only grandchild, the run of the house. Just about anything was permissible. When eight-year old Jean and a friend concocted a plan to raise puppies in the basement, Dee Dee provided them with turquoise-blue paint to decorate the rooms. After about a month of painting, the girls abandonded the project, which Dee Dee knew would happen.

Fascinated by Edith’s privileged life, I spent hours perusing every newspaper article and record I could find about the Orcutt and Beaton families. Another age, another world so different from mine. Fortunately, numerous photographs, newspaper articles, and my grandmother’s and mother’s memories provided me with ample information to write this story about my maternal great-grandmother – a tale of love, loss, and resignation.

ORCUTT and BEATON Photograph Albums

Born on August 26, 1879, Marion Edith Orcutt was the third child of Clinton Delos Orcutt and Anna Dorcas (Dutton) Orcutt. A middle child, Edith, had two older brothers, and two younger sisters. She outlived them all.

  1. Louis Deforest Orcutt (1871-1891) – 20 years old
  2. George Dutton Orcutt (1873-1886) – 13 years old
  3. Marion Edith (Orcutt) Beaton Utendorfer (1879-1964) – 84 years old
  4. Anna Ri (Orcutt) Jaques (1881-1942) – 61 years old
  5. Jane Clare “Jennie” (Orcutt) Keeline (1884-1918) – 33 years old


The Orcutt family lived in Durant, Iowa, twenty miles west of Davenport in the southeast corner of Cedar County. A small but wealthy village, Durant was located in the heart of the corn belt with an economy that revolved around agriculture and livestock. Described as a “handsome village,” the 1884 Iowa State Gazetteer listed the population as 500. Included in the small community: three churches – Congregational, Christian, and Episcopal, public schools (200 school children), two general stores, two harness makers, a physcician, a justice of the peace, a constable, six saloons, a wagonmaker, a telegraph agent, two shoemakers, two blacksmiths, a hotel, a railway and express agent, a coal salesman, and one real estate agent and broker – Clinton Delos Orcutt. [1]

A successful businessman, Clinton Orcutt began his career peddling fruit trees on shares. He borrowed five dollars, a horse, and “…set off bare-back and went into the business with a keen will.” After he worked a few months and covered several counties, he saved enough money to purchase a country store in Durant with a partner. Through hard work, brains, good health, and good habits, his business prospered. Ten years later, he sold his business and turned his hundreds of dollars into thousands. According to the Davenport “Quad-City Times” newspaper in 1879.

“Since then, he has pursued the same saving and thrifty course-watching the signs of the times, buying and selling produce, goods, farms, or what not, and to-day you would certainly not be able to find a single man in Cedar county who could buy him out dollar for dollar and have a cent left…He has a maxim that he glued into his hat at the start -‘Keep out of debt’.”[2]

Map of Durant, Iowa 1885 -Clinton Orcutt Home Jefferson Street # 14 – Courtesy of David Rumsey Map Collection

According to the 1880 census, the Orcutt’s lived on Block 14 Jefferson Street in Durant. [3] One of the Orcutt family albums contains a large photograph of an unidentified house that I believe to be the Orcutt home in Durant. The modest wooden clapboard two-story house has gingerbread trim with functional shutters outside the windows and door. Inside, lace curtains and window shades are visible. I examined the photograph closely, hoping to see a figure peeking out from one of the windows. No luck. A broken picket fence surrounds the house and yard; its barren trees indicate someone took a photograph late fall or winter. A whimsical element is a child’s Victorian tricycle on the front porch. Perhaps it belonged to one of the Orcutt children.


Two doors down the street from the Orcutt family lived Edith’s maternal grandparents, Thomas and Sarah Maria (Whiting) Dutton. Originally from Guilford, Connecticut, they settled in Durant in 1867 with their three children -Anna (Edith’s mother), Samuel and Thomas Junior. Thomas Sr., a Congregationalist minister, was advised by his doctor to move west for health reasons and take up farming to strengthen his constitution. Like their father, Thomas and Sarah’s two sons became farmers. Thomas Jr. moved 250 miles away to Arcadia, Iowa, with his wife and six children. Samuel chose to stay in the area and owned a small farm north of Durant. He and his wife had six children, all close in age to their Orcutt cousins.

Although later in life, Edith reminisced about Iowa, she lost contact with her Dutton relatives. It came as a complete surprise to my grandmother, Anna Jane, when in 1972, she received an inheritance from an unknown Dutton cousin, Samuel’s last surviving son.

Based on numerous newspaper articles, I know Edith’s father, Clinton Orcutt, enjoyed travel. He had the money to indulge in long vacations with his family. In 1876 the Orcutt family spent part of the summer in Minnesota. They returned to Minnesota in 1880 and visited Minneapolis. While there, they stopped in at a prominent photographer’s studio, William Jacoby, on Nicollet Avenue. Edith’s only surviving baby/child photograph depicts a nine-month old baby girl with big blue eyes, her fair hair parted down the middle and combed to the sides.

EDITH ORCUTT 1880, MINNEAPOLIS, MN, photograph in posessession of author.


Union Pacific Railway overland route and connections, 1892. Image courtesy of Library of Congress

In 1885 the Orcutt family traveled to Los Angeles, California. The ‘Muscatine Journal” and Davenport “Quad-city Times” reported the family intended to spend the winter there and return in April/May 1886.

November 24, 1885 – “Mr. and Mrs. Clinton Orcutt, of Durant, left Monday for Los Angeles Cal. Mr. Orcutt will return in February , and his wife remains in California until May.”[4]

January 29, 1886 – “Mr. Orcutt left Los Angeles for home on Friday, 22d inst. For a thousand miles, he was the only passenger in the Pulman coach. The conductor told him that was frequently the case coming east…. Mr. Orcutt goes back to California in March, to return with his family in the following monthMr. Clinton Orcutt, who went to California in November last, with his wife, for the improvement of her health by change of climate, arrived today on the train from the southwest en route for his home in Durant. The wife remains in the golden State until April next. Los Angeles and vicinity has been their place of sojourn since their arrival in California, though Mr. Orcutt traveled considerably. [5]

The California trip, made for health reasons, concerned Edith’s mother, Anna, and possibly her older brother, George Dutton Orcutt. I suspect that Anna and George suffered from consumption, now known as tuberculosis. A popular nineteenth-century notion that southern California’s sunny climate and fresh air could cure tuberculosis and other lung ailments triggered a rush of health seekers to the region. Los Angeles, considered an earthly paradise, appealed to those with delicate health. Newspaper advsertisements promised cures for those with lung ailments.

“The Los Angeles Times,” September 29, 1886,

The Orcutt’s departed for California on November 22, 1885. Clinton, Anna, and their four children, Louis (14), George (12), Edith (6), AnnaRi (4), and Jane (1), traveled in the comfort and luxury of a Pullman Sleeper or Hotel car. Pullman cars offered great comfort and safety, but what set them apart was the decor. “Victorian taste ran toward the baroque, and Pullman offered the utmost in ornamentation: carved walnut paneling, polishe brass fittings, beveled French mirrors, Brussels carpets, brocade, tassels, and fringe.”[6]

As advertised by Pullman, “These cars are so constructed as to combine the convenience and elegance of a private parlor by day and the comforts of a well-furnished bed chamber by night -clean bedding, thick hair mattresses, thorough ventilation.” [7] During the daytime, the younger Orcutt children could play on the floor, or watch through the window for new curiosities. Clinton and Anna could sit and converse as if they were at home in their parlor. In the evening, a porter prepared the beds.

“About eight o’clock, the porter, in a clean gray uniform, comes in to make up the beds. The two easy chairs are turned into a double berth. The sofa undergoes a similar transformation…The freshest and whitest of linens and brightly colored blankets complete the outfit; and you undress and go to bed as you would at home.” [8]

Divided into two compartments, the Hotel and Sleeping cars provided a separate kitchen area where a porter prepared the meals, the most important event of the day. Although meals cost extra, the guests had numerous choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. “…first-class meals, including all manner of game and seasonable delicacies, were served on moveable tables placed in sections.”[9]


The 2,500-mile journey from Durant to Los Angeles required seven days, taking the family through Omaha, Nebraska; Denver, Colorado; Ogden, Utah; San Francisco, California, and Los Angeles. Shortly before his marriage to Anna Dutton in 1870, Clinton visited California for business purposes. He knew the wonders that awaited his family as they crossed the vast plains, the mountains’ rugged beauty, the changing scenery, and abundant wildlife. For his family, the trip would have been a grand adventure.

Train travel in the 19th century could be expensive, particularly long distances. A first-class ticket from Omaha to Los Angeles in 1881 cost $120 per person, $75 for second-class.[10] If a passenger chose to travel in a Pullman car, there was an additional fare. The approximate cost for a one-way ticket would have been about $170 per adult in 1885 or about $4,600 in 2021. The Orcutts did save on fares for the younger children. Children under five could travel for free and from age 5-12 half-fare.

A novelty for the Orcutts, they celebrated their first Christmas in the sunshine and warmth of California. While touring the area, they encountered several people from eastern Iowa who had moved to the Los Angeles area. According to Clinton, “the people ‘from the states’ watch the hotel registers , and when they see an arrival from their old locality they straightaway introduce themselves-and the way they make inquiries would be amusing, if it were not almost overpowering.”[11]

Perhaps one of their acquaintances recommended the James D. Westerwelt Photography Studio on 18 South Main Street in Los Angeles where Clinton, Anna, and George sat for a photograph. Anna wore an elegant satin dress with a form-fitting bodice, a high neck, and a lace collar. Clinton wore a sharply starched white shirt, jacket and vest. You can see a watch fob threaded through his vest button, on the end of it hung his gold watch. Although he was only 44 years old, his hair and beard are turning gray. Both Clinton and Anna look directly at the camera. Twelve-year-old George, hair neatly parted and combed, gazed to the left with a solemn expression. Were there photographs taken of the other family members? If so, where did they go?

Pictured below are Anna Dorcas (DUTTON) ORCUTT, Clinton Delos ORCUTT (Clinton’s gold watch), George Dutton ORCUTT – photographs taken December 1885/January 1886, Los Angeles, California.

Anna and the children intended to remain in Los Angeles until April/May 1886. Clinton, who had business to address, returned to Durant at the end of January. At the beginning of March, Anna summoned Clinton to quickly return to Los Angeles. George was gravely ill.

March 12,1886 – “Clint Orcutt of Durant has been suddenly called to Los Angeles, Cal, by the sickness of his son George.”[12]

March 26, 1886 – “The son of Clint Orcutt, Esq., of Durant, aged about 13 years, whose illness called the father to Los Angeles, Cal. a fortnight ago, has since died.[13]

The “Muscatine Journal” did not provide further information about the cause of George’s death. The Orcutt family returned as soon as possible to Durant in a state of grief. They buried George in the Durant Cemetery, a cemetery that Clinton’s father, Daniel Heath Orcutt, helped purchase and layout shortly before his death in 1864.

One year later, April 1887, a notice in the local Durant paper stated that Clinton Orcutt was building a “comfortable and commodious residence” in Omaha, Nebraska, and intended to move there in the fall. [14] By the second week of August, 1887, the Orcutt family departed Durant for their new home in Omaha. [15]

Omaha offered a new beginning and economic, educational, and social benefits for the entire family. The next chapter in Edith’s story introduces Omaha during the 1890’s and explores Clinton Orcutt’s Victorian residence.


  1. There is a contradictory element regarding George’s date of death. His tombstone notes the date as February 27, 1886. However, two newspaper articles stated that Clinton Orcutt traveled to Los Angeles in March 1886 and that George passed away two weeks after his father arrived in California. I believe that the gravestone should bear the date March 27, 1886, instead of February 27. What is on a gravestone is not always accurate.

2. Six months after George’s death, his 14-year old cousin, Charles Arthur Dutton, passed away. Sadly, George and Charles each had a brother who died a few years later, 1890 (William Boardman Dutton) and 1891 (Louis DeForest Orcutt). I have not been able to find a cause of death for any of the boys. They all rest together in Durant cemetery.

© 2021 copyright – Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved


Genealogy Sketch

Name: [Marion Edith ORCUTT BEATON UTTENDORFER -1879-1964
Parents: Clinton Delos ORCUTT 1840-1905 and
Anna Dorcas DUTTON ORCUTT 1841-1891
Spouse: *Alfred James BEATON 1872-1916 and George Newll UTTENDORFER 1887-1972
Children: Anna Jane BEATON HYDE -1907-1998 and Orcutt Phillip BEATON 1900-1971
Relationship to Kendra: Great-Grandmother

  2. Anna Jane BEATON HYDE
  4. Kendra


  1. “Iowa Gazeteer and Business Directory, 1884-1885, database, ( : accessed 20 February 2021) entry for Durant. page number 441.
  2. Quad-City Times, Davenport, Iowa 4 January 1879, online archives (https.// accessed 29 December 2020), p. 1.
  3. 1880 U.S. Census, Cedar County, Iowa, populations schedule, Durant, Enumeration District (ED) 357, Roll 331, Page 200A, dwelling 10, Clinton Orcutt; digital image, ( :accessed 15 December 2020/
  4. Muscatine Journal, Muscatine, Iowa, 24 November 1885, online archives ( accessed 10 January 2021), p. 2.
  5. Quad-City Times, Davenport, Iowa,29 January 1886, online archives ( accessed 29 December 2020), p.1.
  6. Jack Kelly, “The Golden Age of the Pullman Car,” The History Reader Dispatches in History From the St. Martin’s Publishing Group. : accessed 10 March 2021.
  7. Union & Central Pacific Railroad Line” Timetable, Schedule of Fares, Connections, Information for Travelers (with 11 Engraved Illustrations), and the Rand, McNally & Co. “New Map of the American Overland Route” February, 1881,” Central Pacific Railroad Photographic Museum. : accessed 9 March 2021.
  8. Charles Nordhoff, California How to Go There, and What to See By the Way, “Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. V. 44, 1871-1872. Database:, Original from Cornell University, Digitized by Cornell University,. : (Accessed 12 February 2021). p. 885.
  9. Joseph Husband. The Story of the Pullman Car. (McClurg & Co, Chicago, 1917), Digital Images. Archive. org (Accessed 7 March 2021).
  10. Union & Central Pacific Railroad Line” Timetable, Schedule of Fares, Connections, Information for Travelers (with 11 Engraved Illustrations), and the Rand, McNally & Co. “New Map of the American Overland Route” February, 1881,” Central Pacific Railroad Photographic Museum. : accessed 9 March 2021.
  11. Quad-City Times, Davenport, Iowa,29 January 1886, online archives ( accessed 29 December 2020), p.1.
Posted in Biographies, My Family Ancestry, Photographs | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments


Maria Nilsdotter conquered the most challenging part of her emigration journey when she completed her trans-Atlantic voyage in 1875. This final chapter of Maria’s story chronicles her 1000 mile trek from Castle Garden, New York, to Clinton, Iowa.

While researching immigrant train travel, I came across a riveting memoir written by Robert Louis Stevenson, Across the Plains. It recounts Stevenson’s 1879 journey from New York to San Francisco. As I read his travel memoir, I concluded that Maria likely encountered similar experiences during her cross-country expedition.

Night Scene at an American railway junction: Published by Currier and Ives c 1876, courtesy of Library of Congress.

Maria’s rail travel commenced mid-June, soon after she completed in-processing at Castle Garden. Along with other westbound travelers, she took a ferry across the Hudson River to a nearby railroad station where she waited to board an immigrant train.

ERIE RAILWAY Schedule, The New York Times, 8 May 1875, online archives ( accessed 21 Jan 2021.

There was a babel of bewildered men, women, and children. The wretched little booking office, and the baggage-room, which as not much larger, were crowded thick with emigrants…It was plain that the whole system, if system there was, had utterly broken down under the strain of so many passengers…porters infuriated by hurry and overwork, clove their way with shouts. I may say that we stood like sheep and that the porters charged among us like so many maddened sheepdogs…emigrants had to be sorted and boxed for the journey. A white-haired official, with a stick under one arm, and a list in the other hand, stood apart in front of us and called name after name in the tone of a command. At each name, you would see a family gather up its brats and bundles and run for the hindmost of the three cars that stood awaiting us, and I soon concluded this was to be set apart for the women and children. The second or central, car it turned out, was devoted to men travelling alone.”1

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. (1880). New Iron R.R. Bridge, Portage, N.Y. — (first passenger train.) Retrieved from

The lack of a centralized railway system complicated train travel during the nineteenth century. Nonstop trains from the East Coast to the West Coast did not exist. Like all passengers, Maria had to look out for herself, choose the right route, buy the right ticket, get into the right car, without waiting for someone to direct her. Westward bound passengers from New York traveled via three railway lines – the Erie, the New York Central, or the Pennsylvania Central.

Rand Mcnally And Company & Pittsburgh, F. W. (1874) Map of the Pittsburg sic, Fort Wayne & Chicago, Cleveland, and Pittsburg sic, Grand Rapids and Indiana, and Pennsylvania railroads
. Chicago. [Map] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

Chicago, a central hub, served as a gateway city for transportation lines headed west. Although travel companies filled entire trains with immigrants who traveled from New York to Chicago, passengers had to exercise caution along the journey.

Each railroad company sold tickets for travel only on its own route. When one company’s tracks ended, passengers had to gather up their baggage, walk to the next company’s office, and buy a ticket for the next leg of their trip. Since many small companies owned only thirty or forty miles of track, a long trip could require eight or ten transfers.(2)

Based on the 1871 Handbook for Immigrants to the United States, I calculated that Maria’s railway fare cost approximately $20.00 (3)

Immigrant trains consisted of old and uncomfortable carriages where passengers “were crammed in like so many head of cattle.”(4) Stevenson’s account provided a detailed description of a typical immigrant railroad car.

(1886) The Modern Ship of the Plains Interior of R. R. Car
. , 1886. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

I suppose the reader has some notion of an American railroad-car, that long narrow wooden box, like a flat-roofed Noah’s ark, with a stove and a convenience, one at either end, a passage down the middle, and transverse benches upon either hand. those destined for emigrants on the Union Pacific are only remarkable for constitution, and for the usual inefficacy of the lamps, which often went out and shed but a dying glimmer even while they burned. The benches are too short for anything but a young child. Where there is scarce elbow-room for two to sit, there will not be space enough for one to lie. Hence, the company, or rather, as it appears a plan from certain bills about the Transfer Station, the company’s servants have conceived a plan for the better accommodation of travellers. They prevail on every two to chum together. To each of the chums they sell a board and three square cushions stuffed with straw and covered with thin cotton. the benches can be made to face each other in pairs, for the backs are reversible. On the approach of night, the boards are laid from bench to bench, making a couch wide enough for two, and long enough for a man of the middle height; and the chums lie down side by side upon the cushions with the head to the conductor’s van and the feet to the engine. When the train is full, of course, this plan is impossible, for there must not be more than one to every bench, neither can it be carried out unless the chums agree…Price for one board, the three straw cushions two and half dollars.”(5)

Immigrant Sleeping Car – Horace Porter, “Railway Passenger Travel: 1825-1880,” (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Scotia, N.Y, 1962.) Database: ( :accessed 21 Jan 2021.)

Immigrant trains operated for profit, not for comfort or speed. (6) They chugged along slowly at fifteen miles per hour on average in populated areas, and they made frequent stops. The trains halted at small towns to let off or take on commuting passengers, mail, or packages. When time allowed, the passengers could purchase rolls, sandwiches, or a cup of coffee, if they could elbow their way to the counter.(7)

Currier & Ives & Worth, T. (ca. 1884) A limited express: five seconds for refreshments! / Thos. Worth
. , ca. 1884. New York: published by Currier & Ives. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

Delays were commonplace. Immigrant trains had to pull onto sidetracks and wait as fast-moving luxury trains sped past. Longer delays occurred when a train wreck threw the entire railroad line into chaos. (8)

The Chatsworth, Ill Wreck of Aug 10, 1877. “Train Wrecks; a pictorial history of accidents on the main line by Robert Reed. Database ( accessed 20 Nov 2020.

Aside from a lack of comfort and convenience, rail travel had many inherent dangers. The railroad Gazette for 1875 noted 1,201 accidents. (9)

“Train wrecks were all too common in the nineteenth century –boilers blew up, decaying bridges collapsed under the weight of trains, brittle tracks cracked, wooden passenger cars were set on fire by kerosene lamps or wood heating stoves, brakes overheated and failed. Because of the primitive signal systems, two trains were often mistakenly switched onto the same track and sent speeding into each other. In 1987 alone, there were 104 head-on-collisions in the United States.” (10)

The train trip from New York to Chicago took four to five days with no less than three stops every day for meals. (11) Passengers were permitted about twenty minutes per mealtime; breakfast in the morning, a dinner between eleven and two, and supper from five to eight or nine in the evening. They had to consume their food while keeping an eye on the train to board before it departed without them. Stevenson wrote, “Emigrants are not treated with the same civility as other passengers. In all other trains, a warning cry of ‘All Aboard’ recalls the passengers to take their seats; but with the emigrants the train stole from the station without a note of warning, and you had better keep an eye upon it even while you ate.” (12)

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. (1877). A character scene in the emigrant waiting room of the Union Pacific Railroad depot at Omaha. Retrieved from

A great personage on the railway is the newsboy.” He sold books, newspapers, fruit, lollipops, and cigars. The newsboy provided, for a fee, soap, towels, tin washing basins, tin coffee pitchers, coffee, tea, sugar, and tinned food, mostly hash or beans and bacon. (13) To save money, Maria may have partnered with other female passengers and shared the cost of the soap, towels, and tin basin. Early morning grooming aboard a moving train required a measure of skill and balance. If she wanted to wash, Maria had to fill a tin basin at the water filter opposite the stove in the railroad car. Then, armed with the towel, brick of soap, and the basin, she had to make her way to the platform of the train car. There she knelt, supported herself by bracing a shoulder against the woodwork, or hooked her elbow around the railing. A quick splash of cold water to the face and neck had to suffice.

Once the train was well away from urban areas, it picked up speed and could reach up to sixty miles per hour. As the train rattled along the winding route, Maria witnessed the changing landscape. Like many immigrants, she must have marveled at the sheer size and immensity of America.

Mauch Chunk, On the Lehigh Valley Railroad, PA, USA. Mary L. Martin, LTD; Havre de Grace, MD, USA. U.S., Historical Postcards, 1893-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:

Stevenson described his travels across the midwest as follows:

“All through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa, or for as much as I saw of them from the train and in my waking moments, it was rich and various, and breathed an elegance peculiar to itself. The tall corn pleased the eye; the trees were graceful in themselves, and framed the plain into long aerial vistas; and the clean, bright, gardened townships spoke of country fare and pleasant evenings on the stoop. (14)

CLINTON, IOWA (click on Clinton and view a google map of Maria’s journey.)

By the time Maria reached Chicago, “a great and gloomy city,”(15) she had traveled about 900 miles. When she arrived, she had to collect her baggage, board an omnibus, and make her way to a different railroad station. (16) There she boarded a train bound for Clinton, Iowa, located 138 miles west of Chicago.

Corlies, S. F., photographer. (1863) Depot of the Ill. Central RR Chicago, Illinois
. , 1863. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

Located in the eastern bend of the Mississippi River, Clinton was home to 9000 residents, according to the 1876 Iowa Gazetteer. (17) Most of them hailed from New England or New York, but the town had a growing immigrant population. It included Maria’s elder sister, Christina, and her husband, Olaf Nilsson. Christina, who immigrated to Clinton in 1872, could assist Maria in acclimating to her new life. It is more than likely she helped Maria find employment as a domestic servant.

The city’s principal industries included lumber mills, which employed more than 1000 persons, a chair factory, two paper mills, machine shops, boiler works, a carriage factory, and foundries. Churches abounded, Swedish and German Lutheran, Congregational, Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, and colored Methodist. There were also five banks, four schools, and two daily newspapers. (18)

A CHANGED IMMIGRANT childhood acquaintance, much changed.” the simple young Swedish peasant women’s rapid growth in sophistication in America. Courtesy of

Years ago, when I examined a framed photograph of Maria, I discovered a surprise. Hidden behind the photograph was a thin, tintype image of Maria. It measured 2 5/8″ x 3 1/4″. Typical for the 1870’s the tintype shows Maria’s full appearance.

Maria Nilsdotter, tintype image taken circa 1875, in Clinton, Iowa. Original tintype is black and white, colorized version is courtesy of MyHeritage. Original in possession of author.

Maria wore a fringed cuirass – a form-fitting bodice that extended past her hips. The dress’s ruffles, bows, and fringe, the narrow sleeves with trimmed cuffs, and the scarf around her neck reflect a style popular from 1875-1877. (19) Perched jauntily atop her head is a hat embellished with feathers.

Advertisement from Gazetteer and directory of Clinton County, Iowa, 1876, courtesy of Internet Archive,

Did Maria select Clarke’s Photograph Gallery, the cheapest and best in town? The photographer succesfully blended the background and foreground, something that not every photographer did well. The chair served two purposes. It functioned as a prop for Maria to steady herself, and it provided a visual effect. Maria balanced one arm on the back of the chair and casually positioned one hand over the other to draw attention to the metal filigree bracelet. The dress, jewelry, and especially the hat, told a story. It conveyed to her family and friends in Sweden, that she had succeeded in transforming herself from a farm girl into a lady.

Popular during the 19th century, tintypes were inexpensive, costing just a few cents. They could also withstand the rigors of mailing. Maria probably ordered at least two tintypes. One she kept for herself, and the other she mailed to her family in Sweden.

“The photographs that Swedish immigrant women sent home with their letters provided additional evidence that powerfully communicated the benefits of emigration. Often, after only a few months in the United States, immigrant women went to studios and had their portraits taken to send home to friends and relatives. To viewers back home, these young women must have appeared utterly transformed. They had seen sisters, friends, and neighbors leave the village simply dressed, hatless, and in homespun. The images sent home showed the same women in store-bought dresses and wearing fancy hats. It was not just the clothing that appealed to young women but also the personal freedom and economic means that the clothing and studio portraits represented. Hats, in particular, were a symbol of social class. In Sweden, only upper-class women were permitted to wear hats. Swedish American women intentionally wore hats for their portraits in order to convey a message of social advancement. Acquisition of fashionable wardrobe may also have been seen necessary to attract male suitors.”(20)

Maria did not find a suitor in Clinton, as did her two sisters, Christina, and Anna, the latter who immigrated in 1880. They each married a Swedish immigrant. Drawn to a larger city and greater opportunities, Maria moved 330 miles to Omaha, Nebraska. As I discussed in a previous blog, she met and married an American, John Mathews Nichols. Maria gained her American citizenship upon her marriage.


After their immigration, did Maria and her sisters experience the hundår (dog years)? “Defined in Swedish-English dictionaries as years of struggle.”(21) Did they yearn to visit their family in Sweden? Maria, and her sisters, Christina and Anna, maintained contact with their family in Sweden. The 1909 probate record for their father, Nils Persson, listed each of the daughters’ names and locations.

Probate record for Nils Persson, 1909, Arkivdigital: Jösse-häradsrätt-FII-79-1909-1909-Image-5080-page-116 pg 1

“Enkan Kristina Nilsdotter boende i iova, Norra Amerika, enkan Anna Nilsdotter boende i iova, Norra Amerika dottern Maria Nilsdotter, gift med Nichols Omaha, Norra Amerika samt barnbarnen.” (22)

Translation: The widow Kristina Nilsdotter, living in Iowa, North America, the widow Anna Nilsdotter living in Iowa, North America, daughter Maria Nilsdotter, married to Nichols, Omaha, North America; and the grandchildren.

Maria Nilsdotter/Mary Nelson Nichols never returned to Sweden. She passed away in 1931 at age 76, shortly after the unexpected death of her son Charles. Two years later, in the summer of 1933, the youngest of the three sisters, 75-year-old Anna Nilsdotter Nyberg, traveled to Sweden. Her son, Carl Nyberg, age 39, accompanied her. Where they went and whom they visited is unknown.

Värmland calls to me. One day, I will return and visit Maria’s ancestral village of Skällarbyn. Until then, if any distant cousins read this blog, please contact me.

Värmland poster was given to me by my mother and sister.

© 2021 copyright – Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved


Genealogy Sketch

Parents: NILS PERSSON 1824-1909 and
Spouse: JOHN MATHEW NICHOLS 1857-1929
Children:Carrie Bertha Nichols 1881-1915, Charles Clinton Nichols 1883-1930, Frederick Mathew Nichols 1885-1957, Mabel Elvina Nichols Hyde 1888-1954, John Lee Nichols 1890-1967
Relationship to Kendra: [Great-Great-Grandmother]

  1. [Maria Nilsdotter/Mary Nelson 1854-1931]
  2. [Mabel Elvina Nichols Hyde 1888-1954]
  3. [John Frederick Hyde Jr 1911-1980]
  4. [Jean Hyde Hopp Eichorn]
  5. Kendra



  • (1) Robert Louis Stevenson. The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson. (W. Heinemann in association with Chatto and Windus, 1922.), Digital Images. ( : accessed 15 Nov 2020) 333.
  • (2) Jim Murphy, Across America on an Emigrant Train, (New York, NY: Clarion Books, 1993). 20.
  • (3) Handbook for Immigrants to the United States (New York, Hurd, and Houghton, 1871), Digital Images, ( accessed 23 November 2020.)
  • (4)Jim Murphy, Across America on an Emigrant Train, (New York, NY: Clarion Books, 1993). 20.
  • (5) Robert Louis Stevenson, Across the Plains with other Memories and Essays, (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1897); 28-29
  • (6) Joy K Lintelman, I go to America Swedish American Women and the Life of Mina Anderson (St. Paul Minnesota, Minnesota Historical Press, 2009),62
  • (7)Robert Louis Stevenson, Across the Plains with other Memories and Essays, (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1897); 28-29
  • (8)Jim Murphy, Across America on an Emigrant Train, (New York, NY: Clarion Books, 1993). 32
  • (9)Robert C. Reed. Train Wrecks; a pictorial history of accidents on the main line. (Seattle, Superior Pub. Co.). Digital Images. ( accessed: 15 Nov 2020).
  • (10)Jim Murhpy, Across America on an Emigrant Train, (New York, NY: Clarion Books, 1993) 29.
  • (11)Ljungmark, Lars. Translated by Kermit B. Westerberg, Swedish Exodus. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1979, 82.
  • (12)Robert Louis Stevenson. The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson. (W. Heinemann in association with Chatto and Windus, 1922.), Digital Images. ( : accessed 15 Nov 2020) 360.
  • (13)Ibid, 358.
  • (14)Ibid, 344.
  • (15)Ibid, 346.
  • (16)Ibid, 346.
  • (17)F.E. Owen. Gazetteer and directory of Clinton county, Iowa, containing a history of the county, and the cities of Clinton and Lyons. (Lyons, Iowa, 1876), Database ( : accessed 21 Jan 2021.
  • (18)Ibid.
  • (19)Maureen A. Taylor, Family Photo Detective, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Family Tre Books, 2013), 109.
  • (20)Joy K Lintelman, I go to America Swedish American Women and the Life of Mina Anderson (St. Paul Minnesota, Minnesota Historical Press, 2009,62.
  • (21)Ibid, 94.
  • (22)Jösse-häradsrätt-FII-79-1909-1909-Image-5080-page-116 pg 1.

Posted in My Family Ancestry | Tagged , | 9 Comments


Liverpool, England, postcard author’s personal collection.


This blog is the fourth in a series about the life of Maria Nilsdotter (Mary Nelson) and her immigration to America in 1875. In the previous blog, Maria traveled from Skällarbyn, Sweden, to Liverpool, England, where she waited to board a transatlantic steamship bound for America.

My initial search for “Maria Nilsdotter” on a passenger list proved unsuccessful. After I expanded the search to include variations of the spelling of her name, I found a likely candidate.

Listed on the manifest for the S.S. Erin for June 1875, is “Marie Nelson”, age 21, occupation servant. [1] Am I 100% certain that this is “my” Maria Nilsdotter? No, but it is likely based on her departure from her village on May 24th, 1875, and research outlined in previous blog posts. If not, then Maria’s travel experiences would have been very similar to those I detail in this article.

Ship’s Manifest – S.S. Erin –

Passenger list for S.S. Erin, June 14, 1875. Marie Nelson, age 21, female, servant, Sweden, Steerage – Ancestry. com


Anxiety and anticipation filled the pit of Maria’s stomach as she waited on the landing dock to board the S.S. Erin. Alongside her, crowds of immigrants clutched their numerous bundles and stared at one another. They gazed in wonder at the massive steel vessel, longer than a city block, rows of portholes, a deckhouse, three masts, and a monster funnel. “They caught a glimpse of the white lifeboats hanging in davits, red- mouthed ventilators, and the brightest of brasswork.”[2] Soon the stewards directed them up the gangway and onboard the S.S. Erin. The journey commenced.

The S.S. Erin departed Liverpool Wednesday, June 2, 1875, early in the afternoon at high tide to clear the sandbars. The passengers had a final view of England before they headed out into the bay and then into the Irish Channel. The next morning, June 3rd, they stopped in Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland, to pick up Irish passengers. After the final warning bell sounded, the ship edged away from the pier and set course along the Irish coast. Hopefully, they had smooth waters as they headed out into the Atlantic.

S.S. Erin, National Line – image courtesy of

The British passenger liner with a clipper stem, one funnel, and three masts, was built by Palmer Brothers & Company, in Jarrow-on-Tyne, for the National Line in 1864. Rebuilt twice, in 1872 and 1876, she would eventually accommodate 72 first-class passengers and 1,200 third-class (steerage) passengers. [3] Charles H. Andrews served as Master and Captain of the 3,956-ton ship.[4]

An advertisement for the National Line passenger steamships promoted the ships’ comfortable accommodations.[5]

FIRST CLASS: Unsurpassed accommodations for passengers. The Saloons and Staterooms are very spacious and cheerful, finely lighted and ventilated, and elegantly furnished. The Table will compare favorably with that of the best Hotels in England.

Ladies Boudoir – also Piano, Library, Smoking, and Bath Rooms, etc. A Surgeon, Stewards, and Stewardesses on every steamer. Medicine and attendance free.

STEERAGE: The Steerage is large, light and airy, and warmed by steam in winter. Married couples with their children are berthed by themselves, Single persons are placed in separate rooms.

Meals are served three times a day by the Ship’s stewards and consist of unlimited quantity of good and wholesome provisions put on board under inspection of the Company’s Purveyor. Plenty of fresh drinking water. The care of Surgeon and Stewards free.”

Museum of the City of New York. Database. MCNY Blog: New York Stories. accessed June 2020.

“Steerage,” located near the ship’s steering equipment, consisted of one or more below-deck compartments both fore and aft. Contrary to the favorable description above, a typical steerage compartment was dark, hot, airless, and crowded.

“A typical steerage consisted of a compartment indistinguishable from any upper cargo hold, without portholes or any other effective ventilating mechanism, unpartitioned and six to eight feet high, crammed with two or more tiers of narrow metal bunks containing minimal mattresses. Men and women were separated, sometimes on separate decks, sometimes by nothing but a few blankets tossed over a line in the middle of the compartment. Toilet facilities were always inadequate; cleanup was almost non-existent; and the combined smells from the ship’s galleys and human exrement nauseating. The food was both monotonous and poorly prepared – if prepared at all – and freshwater was usually only available up on the deck. The chief kind of food provided, described by many immigrants, was barrel after barrel of herring, the cheapest food available…[6]

David M. Brownstone, Irene M Franck, and Douglass Brownstone. Island of Hope (New York, Fall River Press, 2000), p.121

Fortunately for Maria and her shipmates, the S.S. Erin had a reduced number of passengers on the voyage. The Saloon (First) Class numbered just fourteen. Their nationalities included: Candadians -2, English-2, Dutch -2, French -2, and Americans -4. Their occupations: ladies, gentlemen, clerk, draper, and a broker.[7]

Robert Louis Stevenson illustrated the distinction between passenger classes in a witty account, The Amateur Emigrant, Travel Memoir. Although Stevenson traveled second-class from Scotland to America in 1879, he frequently went below decks to steerage and interacted with the third-class passengers.

“In the steerage there are males and females; in the second cabin ladies and gentlemen. For some time after I came aboard I thought I was only a male; but in the course of the voyage of discovery between decks, I came on a brass plate, and learned that I was still a gentleman…

For all these advantages I paid but two guineas. Six guineas is the steerage fare; eight that by the second cabin; and when you remember that the steerage passenger must supply bedding and dishes, and in five cases out of ten, either bring some dainties with him, or privately pays the steward for extra rations, the difference in price becomes almost nominal. Air comparatively fit to breathe, food comparatively varied, and the satisfaction of being still privately a gentleman, may thus be had almost for the asking. Two of my fellow passengers in the second cabin had already made the passage by the cheaper fare, and declared it was an experiment not to be repeated.”[8]

Robert Louis Stevenson. The Amatuer Emigrant, Travel Memoir. Originally published 1895 (Middletown, DE 2020).

Steerage passengers on the S.S. Erin numbered 431, representing thirteen nationalities. They ranged in age from an infant to 59-years old, and nearly two-thirds were male.[9]

Irish – 177, German -94, English -73, Swedish -55, French – 14, Prussian -5, Austrian -3, Hungarian -3, Scottish -2, Greek-2, Dutch-1, Polish -1, and American -1

They came from various backgrounds, perhaps they hoped to ply their trades in America or seek new job opportunities. Many immigrants longed to purchase cheap land. Maria, probably hoped to find employment as a servant after she learned basic English.

Occupations of the steerage passengers: architect, boilermaker, butcher, blacksmith, brewer, confectioner, farm laborer, file cutter, gardener, grocer, lawyer, machine maker, miner, peddler, servant, shipbuilder, shoemaker, tailor, and waiter.

Amongst the 55 Swedes on board, there were several young women close in age to 21-year old Maria, with whom she could share her dreams and excitement and concerns. Travel brochures noted that passengers should be very cautious regarding their choice of acquaintances on board, especially on the part of women. Sailors had a reputation for taking advantage of female passengers.

The stormy North Atlantic took a toll on the well-being of most of the passengers. “They were land creatures, temporarily uprooted from the earth and passing through a wholly alien environment.”[10] Seasickness affected most of them. Even though they were miserable, they knew it would pass. A more significant concern was the possibility of contracting cholera or typhus. These were the killers.

A fear that loomed largest in the imagination of the passengers was a shipwreck. Captive in a moving vessel, they were at the mercy of the weather and the elements.

Foundering Ship– Harper’s Weekly, 1857. Courtesy of

Emigrant Swedish-English guidebooks addressed the fears that many passengers felt about the voyage. Published in 1881, the Utvandrarens Tolk, (The Emigrant’s Interpreter) provided phrases emigrants could practice during their trip.[11]

Swedish-English dictionaryLanguage Contact Across the North Atlantic, P Sture Ureland,
  • “All passengers must go down in the hold and the hatches be shut, there is an appearance of a storm.
  • I cannot go down; I feel very sick; I cannot stand on my legs.
  • Ah, what I suffer, I think I am dying.
  • Pshaw, it will pass.
  • This is a violent storm.
  • Look, the porpoises jump round the prow of the vessel.
  • Here we are lost. It is so sultry. Can we not get out?
  • Not before the sotrm has ceased. But in the meantime we are suffocated.
  • Pooh, there is no danger.
  • Now the storm is over. Now we shall let you out.”[12]

[The S.S. Erin disappeared in a shipwreck 14 years after Maria’s voyage. In December 1889, the S.S. Erin departed from New York to London with her 52 crew members, 525 cattle, and about 20 cattlemen. After passing Sable Island, off the coast of Novia Scotia, she went missing with the loss of all on board. The Board of Trade inquiry determined the ship foundered in a violent gale.][13]

Despite their concerns, most emigrants focused on what lay ahead. They could endure the trip with the knowledge it would lead to a new wide-open life in America. First-hand accounts by Swedish immigrants provided the best source to understand what Maria may have experienced during her journey. One book in particular, cited numerous and diverse stories, From the Promised Land, Swedes in America 1840-1914.

In 1890, Gustav Eriksson, a shoemaker from Dalarna, Sweden, traveled to America. He compiled a letter in diary form. We join him and his friend Gustaf L. in Liverpool as they board their ship the Majestic.[14]

“WEDNESDAY. When we came to the dock we had to stand in a shed from which the cargo was being winched up into the ship; they were busy loading when we came. After we had waited a while we were able to go onboard. We were shown to the foredeck, the womenfolk to the stern, we had our quarters two flights down. There all the Swedes were packed in, farther forward on the same level came the Finns. One flight down the English and Germans had their quarters…

When we went and walked around the deck to find our way around as best we could, a man came and said go forward. They herded us from forward aft, there we went from the one side to the other like a flock of sheep. We were really packed in there, I think we could well have been around 6,700…

THURSDAY. Last night we left Liverpool harbor and are now steaming at full speed for Ireland, where people will also be picked up. It is storming, but not so bad. There aren’t such big waves as on the North Sea, we have a headwind. You could feel this morning when I woke up that the ship was rolling and the waves striking hard against the sides.

On the North Sea we were only Scandanavians, here it is really cosmic, several nations are represented. The Englishmen are generally skinny and puny, and look as if they would fall to pieces if a real Swede gave them a box on the ear.

We lay here in Kingston until around one, then the anchor was raised and the journey over the Atlantic began. A stiff headwind was blowing so that when we came out a bit there were high seas. The ship rolled and shook, it began to feel uncomfortable. I got tired of this eternal rolling…Storms and waves don’t interest me any longer. I hate them. If only we were there. But it will go on for a long while, six whole days, so one just has to go and feel uncomfortable.” [For Maria, the trip lasted eleven long days.]

H. Arnold Barton, Editor. From the Promised Land, Swedes in America, 1840-1914 (University of Minnesota 1975), p 212-214.

It is relevant to note that Gustaf Eriksson traveled fifteen years after Maria’s journey when conditions for steerage passengers had slightly improved after the Passenger Act of 1882.[15]

Immigrants on an Atlantic Liner, c 1906. Image courtesy of Library of Congress

The British Pall Mall Gazette published an article written four years after Maria’s voyage. The journalist described conditions in steerage on a reverse journey from New York to Liverpool in 1879. He traveled aboard the Cunard Line, which advertised that they accommodated their third-class travelers better than any other transatlantic line.[16]

“Now I was in the steerage. Words are incapable of conveying anything like correct notion of the kind of den in which I stood among sixty fellow passengers. A glance around filled me with dismay and disgust…In the center of the floor was an open wooden grating, the entry, as I afterward discovered to the steward’s storeroom. This “ventilated” direct into the steerage. That salt and cured fish were among the items carried below was immediately apparent to at least one of our senses.

Opening the door of the compartment which I shared with eleven bed-fellow, I passed into the narrow and foul-smelling passage in front of the shelves. My companions were in their respective trays. They were quiet but not asleep. How they managed to compress themselves and their belongings into the space allotted to them I could not understand. Each shelf -six feet long by about eighteen inches width – was not alone bed and bed-chamber but wardrobe, cupboard, and luggage depository of its occupant. Each slept with his clothes on; indeed undressing was out of the question – there was not room enough for the operation…

In vain I tried to sleep. My elbows and knees went to sleep, but I remained awake. The wind was rising and the ship was rolling. Within an hour it was blowing harder; and then it abundantly appeared that my companions were not good sailors. Dreadful were the next two hours; but at length all was silent and I dozed off…”

Mealtimes offered a distraction from the monotony of the journey.

On board an emigrant ship – the breakfast bell immigrants on ship deck. c. 1884. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

“Breakfast was quickly served. The tin pans filled with half-burned bread were plumped down upon the tables. The rank compound supposed to be butter again made its appearance. There stood the steward with what appeared to be a large fish-kettle in one hand a greasy kitchen ladle in the other, bawling out, “Who’s for stew?” We were all for stew…

Breakfast finished, the washing of pots and pans and platters commenced. A tub of lukewarm water was placed for the sailors’ convenience on the main deck. Here the steerage passengers were permitted to wash their eating utensils; and after every meal a string of these travellers ascended the gangway and rinsed and scoured the tin pans and pannikins until the shone again. Our pots and pannikens clean and bright, all sought refuge on deck. Four hours and a half of fresh sea-air blew off the nauseous atmosphere that clung to one like a mist in the steerage…

My experience aboard was not that of an isolated individual: all third-class travellers were treated precisely alike. And it should be remembered, too, that we made the voyage under the most favourable conditions: there were few steerage passengers, and the time of year was good…”

H. Phelps Whitmarsh, “The Steerage of To-Day A personal Experience.” The Century Magazine, Vol LV, No 4, Feb 1898, p528-543. Database: Original from the University of California, Digitized by Google.

[An informative visual presentation of travel in steerage circa 1880 is available on youtube. Steerage and Third Class on Ocean Liners.]

Maria and her companions may have shared condolences over the food and dreadful conditions aboard ship.They likely discussed how long the voyage might last. Perhaps they shared bits of information about their occupations, what they hoped to find in the new world, and what they left behind in the old. Maybe they practiced English and used a guide book that provided translations and pronunciation.

Immigrant Handbook Vägledning Svenska utvandrare till Amerika. National Library of Sweden

Despite the horrible accommodations and unappetizing food, the sociability of Maria’s companions could have positively influenced her experiences. On the other hand, they may have negatively impacted her, as recounted by H. Phelps Whitmarsh who traveled in steerage from Liverpool to New York in 1898.[17]

“I suppose there are conditions more favorable to the rapid growth of acquaintance and friendship than those on shipboard. On the other hand, however, there is no place like it for wearing a friendship threadbare – for finding people out. Sea friendships, sea promises, and sea plans, I have noticed are uncertain things at best and never to be depended upon.”

H. Phelps Whitmarsh, “The Steerage of To-Day A personal Experience.” The Century Magazine, Vol LV, No 4, Feb 1898, p528-543. Database: Original from the University of California, Digitized by Google.


Immigrants at the rail of a steamship, the early 1900s. Image courtesy of Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

A buzz of excitement ran through steerage as the ship drew closer to America. The sailors would have informed the passengers that they weren’t far from shore. “The burning question of the steerage is, ‘Shall we get ashore to-night?”[18] In most cases, the steerage passengers had to wait an additional night on board the ship.

After eleven long days crossing the Atlantic, the S.S. Erin reached the shores of America. It docked at the Hudson or East River piers on Sunday, June 13, 1875. Using a tip from another genealogist, I searched New York newspapers for the ship’s arrival notice. Located in the Marine Intelligence section, was a list of all the steamships and schooners that docked each day. The newspaper notice included information if a ship had encountered storms, strong winds, or delays. Fortunately for the crew and passengers of the S. S.Erin, the voyage proceeded without mishaps.[19]

“Marine Intelligence.” The New York Times, 14 June 1875, online archives,

“MARINE INTELLIGENCE – New York…Sunday, June 13th

Arrived: Steam-ship Erin, (Br.) Andrews, Liverpool June 2nd and Queenstown 3d, with mdse and passengers to F.W. J. Hurst.

Although the ship docked on June 13th, the Captain did not sign the manifest until June 14th, which likely indicates that Maria and the other immigrants did not go ashore the first day. They had to wait until the following morning.

Port of New York, S.S. Erin, 14 June 1875.

The emigrants caught their first glimpse of America at the eastern edge of Manhattan Island. They clustered on the deck, anxious to get ashore and enjoy the liberty they had traveled so far to obtain. Their first impressions formed as they approached an imposing architectural structure called Castle Garden, which once served as a military fort, built on an artificial island. Castle Garden signified that they had arrived in America.[20]

Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy, The New York Public Library. (1880). Castle Garden Emigrant Station photographed from above Retrieved from

The New York Times reported in February 1874:

“Castle Garden is so well known in Europe that few emigrants can be induced to sail for any other destination. Their friends in this country write to those who are intending to emigrate to come to Castle Garden where they will be safe, and if out of money, they can remain until it is sent to them.”[21]

Dr. George J. Svejda, “Castle Garden as an Immigrant Deport 1850-1890” (U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service, 1968). Database:

From August 3, 1855, to April 18, 1890, Castle Garden served as the official immigration center for the United States. More than eight million immigrants – almost all from Europe – passed through Castle Garden.[22]


Upon arrival, an immigration officer boarded the vessel. He ascertained the number of passengers, noted any deaths during the voyage, and if any passengers suffered from illnesses. Next, the Landing Agent and Inspector of Customs boarded the vessel.

The first and second class passengers remained in their cabins while agents checked their paperwork and did not undergo a physical examination. Soon after, they disembarked at the pier and continued on their journey.

Steerage passengers underwent a more thorough inspection. After the agents checked the luggage, it was transferred to the barges or tugs and transported to Castle Garden pier. Likewise, steerage passengers were transported by ferry or barge to Castle Garden.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. (1884-06). Landing immigrants at Castle Garden. Retrieved from

Maria arrived during the peak immigration season (May-June). The center was a beehive of activity with as many as 3000 immigrants gathered in the processing center.[23] The weather that day was mild, 72° on June 13, and 66° on June 14, which would have made the long wait somewhat tolerable.[24] As she left the barge, Maria would have seen Castle Garden as it loomed in front of her surrounded by a large wooden wall. Over the large door to the entrance hung a sign, Castle Garden. Once she passed through the door, she would have seen the outbuildings, hospitals, and offices in the compound. [25]

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. (1861 – 1880). State Emigrant Landing Depot, Castle Garden, N.Y. Retrieved from

“The Castle Garden area covered about 125, 000 square feet. The main structure was built of brown-stone blocks, closely cemented and forming a wall six feet thick. The gun embrasures retained the original shape, and the old nail-studded gates which guarded its portals in olden times were at this time still preserved.”[26]

Dr. George J. Svejda, “Castle Garden as An Immigrant Depot, 1850-1890”. (U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1968). Database:

Inside Castle Garden, Maria, like all immigrants, had to undergo a medical and legal inspection. The interrogation included answering several questions that determined an immigrant’s “fitness” to remain in America. “The primary job of officials was to prevent individuals who were likely to become a public charge due to physical or mental disabilities from entering the United States and to admit those likely to be productive members of the industrial labor force.”[27] One of the questions that determined “fitness” was how much money an immigrant brought with them or would receive from a sponsor. The U.S. government did not desire immigrants who immediately became public charges. Swedish male immigrants, on average, brought more cash than females. “Average in-hand cash amounts for the women were 62 kronor and 25 dollars, while averages for the men were 266 kronor and 318 dollars.”[28]

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. (1868-08-15). The Labor Exchange — interior views of the office at Castle Garden, New York. Retrieved from

With the large volume of immigrants, medical checks were cursory, but any sign of contagion could lead to quarantining of the steerage passengers or the entire ship. Minor health issues were dealt with immediately at an onsite aid station. More severe conditions required the passengers to be sent to immigrant hospitals on Wards Island in the East River for free treatment.[29] If the passengers’ papers were in order, and they were in good health, the inspection process would last approximately three to five hours.

The Handbook for Immigrants to the United States described the procedures at Castle Garden.

“On landing, the passengers are examined by a medical officer to discover if any are sick. After examination, the immigrants are directed into the Rotunda, a circular space with separate compartments for English speaking and other nationalities.

Each immigrant receives a brass ticket with a letter and number on landing, a duplicate is placed on his piece of luggage after passing the health inspection. After the luggage is weighed and paid for, it is sent free of charge to the depot or railroad or dock by which they leave.

Immigrants then proceed to the registering department where the names, nationality, former place of residence, and the intended destination of the immigrants are taken down.

[Inside the main building, the immigrants could use bathing facilities, one for men and on the opposite side for women. Soap, water, and clean towels on rollers were provided free of charge.]

Passengers then directed to the agents for the Railroad companies where they can procure tickets to all parts of the United States and Canada without the risk of fraud or extortion to which they are subjected to outside the Depot.

Exchange brokers admitted into the Depot change foreign money for a small advance on the market rate.

When the proceeding operations are completed, the immigrants are assembled in the tile Rotunda and an officer of the Commission calls the names of those whose friends attend them in the waiting room at the entrance of the Depot, and to whom they are directed.

Names are also called out for those for whom letters or funds are waiting. Immigrants who desire to communicate with friends at a distance are referred to the Letter Writing Department.

If an immigrant desires to remain in the city for any period of time they are referred to boarding-house keepers to guard the immigrant against the abuses.

The cost of a meal in the building half-a-dollar. Ther is no place to sleep unless on the floor or a chair.”[31]

Dr. George J. Svejda, “Castle Garden as An Immigrant Depot, 1850-1890”. (U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1968). Database:

Most immigrants spent only a few hours inside Castle Garden. Some were met by family members who anxiously awaited their arrival. Others, like Maria, had to determine if they would spend the night in New York or continue on their journey by rail or ferry. If an immigrant chose to stay overnight, there were licensed boarding houses approved by Castle Garden Depot.[31]

For those immigrants who continued on their journey, steamboats would whisk them up the Hudson River to the railroad, steamship, or canal boats. Many immigrants had prepaid orders, which entitled them to a railroad ticket to their place of destination. Once they left the walls of Castle Garden, immigrants had to be cautious of thieves and swindlers who tried to fleece them. Due to language barriers, poverty, and fear, many immigrants were easy prey.[32]

Castle Garden Emigrant-Catchers June 14, 1882. Historical Society of Pennsylvania -Digital Library.

Maria survived the long voyage and arrived in America, but her trip wasn’t over yet. Another week of travel had to be endured. Her journey by immigrant train carried her more than 1000 miles across the United States to Clinton, Iowa.

(To be continued – Final chapter)

You, whoever you are!...
All you continentals of Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, 
Indifferent of place!
All you on the numberless islands of the archipelagos of the sea!
All you of centuries hence when you listen to me!
All you each and everywhere whom I specify not, but include just the same!
Health to you! Good will to you all, from me and America sent!
Each of us is inevitable,
Each of us is limitless - each of us with his or her right upon
the earth,
Each of us allow'd the eternal purports of the earth,
Each of us here as divinely as any is here.
Walt Whitman[33]

© 2020 copyright -Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.


Genealogy Sketch

Parents: NILS PERSSON 1824-1909 and
Spouse: JOHN MATHEW NICHOLS 1857-1929
Children:Carrie Bertha Nichols 1881-1915, Charles Clinton Nichols 1883-1930, Frederick Mathew Nichols 1885-1957, Mabel Elvina Nichols Hyde 1888-1954, John Lee Nichols 1890-1967
Relationship to Kendra: [Great-Great-Grandmother]

  1. [Maria Nilsdotter/Mary Nelson 1854-1931]
  2. [Mabel Elvina Nichols Hyde 1888-1954]
  3. [John Frederick Hyde Jr 1911-1980]
  4. [Jean Hyde Hopp Eichorn]
  5. Kendra



  1. New York, Passenger, and Crew Lists (Including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957; database, ( accessed 11 Aug 2020), entry for Maria Nelson, age 21, Sweden, aboard S.S. Erin, Liverpool to New York, arriving 14 June 1875, p.6; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 1; List number 496.
  2. H. Phelps Whitmarsh, “The Steerage of To-day A personal Experience.” The Century Magazine, Vol LV, Number 4, Feb 1898, p528-543. Database:, Original from the University of California, Digitized by Google, : (Accessed August 25, 2020).
  3. Database. (Accessed 14 July 2020).
  4. Ibid
  5. Museum of the City of New York. Database. MCNY Blog: New York Stories. : (Accessed June 2020).
  6. David M. Brownstone, Irene M Franck, and Douglass Brownstone. Island of Hope (New York, Fall River Press, 2000), p 126.
  7. New York, Passenger, and Crew Lists (Including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957; database, ( accessed 11 Aug 2020), entry for Maria Nelson, age 21, Sweden, aboard S.S. Erin, Liverpool to New York, arriving 14 June 1875, p.6; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 1; List number 496.
  8. Robert Louis Stevenson. The Amateur Emigrant, Travel Memoir 1895.
  9. New York, Passenger, and Crew Lists (Including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957; database, ( accessed 11 Aug 2020), entry for Maria Nelson, age 21, Sweden, aboard S.S. Erin, Liverpool to New York, arriving 14 June 1875, p.6; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Line: 1; List number 496.
  10. David M. Brownstone, Irene M Franck, and Douglass Brownstone. Island of Hope (New York, Fall River Press, 2000), p 121.
  11. P. Sture Ureland, Ian Clarkson, ed., Lanugage Across the North Atlantic (Max Niemeyer verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Tübingen, 1996) 165; Digital Images, Google Books ( accessed 14 August 2020.).
  12. Ibid
  13. Database. :2020
  14. H. Arnold Barton, Editor. From the Promised Land, Swedes in America 1840-1914 (University of Minnesota, 1975), p212-214.
  15. “Historic Documents-United States-Passenger Act of 1882.” Database: :(Accessed 24 August 2020).
  16. “In the Steerage of a Cunard Steamer,” Pall Mall Gazette, 14 August 1879. Database: British (Accessed 10 August 2020.
  17. H. Phelps Whitmarsh, “The Steerage of To-day A personal Experience.” The Century Magazine, Vol LV, Number 4, Feb 1898, p528-543. Database:, Original from the University of California, Digitized by Google, : (Accessed August 25, 2020).
  18. Ibid
  19. “Marine Intelligence.” the New York Times, 14 June 1875, online archives ( accessed 15 May 2020), p 8, col 6.
  20. David M. Brownstone, Irene M Franck, and Douglass Brownstone. Island of Hope (New York, Fall River Press, 2000), p 121.
  21. Dr. George J. Svejda, “Castle Garden as an Immigrant Depot, 1850-1890.” (U.s. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1968). Database: (Accessed 24 August 2020).
  22. Brendan P. O’Malley, “Welcome to New York, Remembering Castle Garden, a Nineteenth-Century Immigrant Welfare State,” Laphams Quarterly. Database: : (Accessed 23 August 2020).
  23. Dr. George J. Svejda, “Castle Garden as an Immigrant Depot, 1850-1890.” (U.s. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1968). Database: (Accessed 24 August 2020).
  24. “The Weather in this City,” The New York Times, 14 June 1875, online archives ( 15 May 2020.
  25. Dr. George J. Svejda, “Castle Garden as an Immigrant Depot, 1850-1890.” (U.s. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1968). Database: (Accessed 24 August 2020).
  26. Ibid
  27. Joy K. Lintelman. “I go to America, Swedish Women and the Life of Mina Anderson.” (Minnesota Historical Society, 2009), p. 86.
  28. Ibid
  29. Brendan P. O’Malley, “Welcome to New York, Remembering Castle Garden, a Nineteenth-Century Immigrant Welfare State,” Lapham’s Quarterly. Database: : (Accessed 23 August 2020).
  30. Handbook for Immigrants to the United States (New York, Hurd, and Houghton, 1871), Digital Images. ( accessed 24 August 2020.)
  31. Dr. George J. Svejda, “Castle Garden as an Immigrant Depot, 1850-1890.” (U.s. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1968). Database: (Accessed 24 August 2020).
  32. Jenny Ashcroft. “Before Ellis Island: Entering America Through Castle Garden 1850-1890. June 12, 2020. Database:Fishwrap The Official Blog of (Accessed: 24 August 2020).
  33. Walt Whitman. “You Whoever You Are!” Database: Library of Congress ( Accessed 12 June 2020.


Posted in Biographies, My Family Ancestry | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments


Maria Nilsdotter/Mary Nelson circa 1875, photo in possession of author.


How much cash do I need to take with me when I emigrate? What possessions should I take and what should I leave behind? How will I cope with the language? These are questions emigrants have always had to consider.

When Maria Nilsdotter, my 2x great-grandmother, emigrated in 1875 from Skällarbyn, Sweden, she probably had the same concerns. In my previous blog, I discussed the reasons why Maria chose to emigrate. Here I explore how she might have traveled to America.

The anticipation began the day Maria decided to follow her sister Christina to Clinton, Iowa. She knew she could rely on Christina’s experienced advice, as well as emigrant handbooks to guide her. It must have been a comfort to know her sister could help her get settled, find a job, and teach her English. Maria focused on what she needed to do to emigrate.

The first step required that she visit her pastor’s office and request a moving certificate (Flyttningsbetyg). The document included name, birth date, parish, county, vaccination date (smallpox), baptism, confirmation, marriage, profession, destination, general social behavior, and the pastor’s signature.

The Moving Out records (Utflyttades) for Skällarbyn noted for the month of May 1875 that Maria departed her village and parish. Her destination – North America.

Maria Nilsdotter- Moving Out Records -Arkivdigital v11981.b426.s416

Upon arrival at a Swedish or Norwegian port, Maria had to submit the (Flyttningsbetyg) to the Police Department for inspection. Without this document, she could not leave the country.


Maria had several problems to solve before her departure to America. How to pay for her ticket and purchase it? What route to travel and what time of year? What supplies to take?


Initially, I thought Maria received financial assistance from her elder sister Christina, who emigrated in 1872. Quite often, a sibling who had already immigrated would send money to family members to help pay for their trip.

Christina Nilsdotter emigration – ArkivDigital: Köla A1:31 (1871-1875) Image 426 Page 416

After I reviewed the 1896 probate records for Maria’s and Christina’s mother, Karin Olsdotter, I realized where the girls obtained at least half the money required for their expenses. Each girl received an advance of their inheritance in the form of a dowry payment for their travel to America. Although it wasn’t typical for Swedish parents to provide a dowry for their daughters, Karin and Nils provided some assistance. Maria received 100 Kronor (approximately $30 in 1875), which was half of her total inheritance of 200 Kronor. Today the 100 Kronor would be worth about 5606 Kronor ($631.00). Christina received more than twice as much as Maria, possibly because she had a son to care for on her own. Her dowry advance was 250 Kronor, half of the total 500 her parents provided for her.

Probate for Karin Olsdotter noting dowries for Maria and Christina – Arkivdigital: Jösse häradsträtt FII:68 (1896-1897) Image: 201 Page 393.

For most emigrants, the cost of passage from Sweden to America was a considerable financial burden. The money Maria received from her parents would not suffice for all of her expenses. She probably saved her earnings from work as a servant (piga) on a neighboring farm over the course of a couple of years. A farmhand could earn an annual income of about 100 Kronor ($27) in 1869, and 138 Kronor in 1880. Her inheritance combined with savings would cover the cost of an emigrant-class steamship ticket.

During the Swedish mass emigration era (1870-1900), fees fluctuated due to competition For example, in 1869, a one-way steerage ticket from Göteborg to New York, or Chicago, cost about $41. During the 1880’s a steerage ticket cost around about $28. The1870 Handbook for Immigrants to the United States noted the costs from Christiania (Oslo) to New York as $45. Maria probably needed at least $60 to cover her costs from Skällarbyn, Sweden to Clinton, Iowa.


Because of the favorable exchange rates and higher wages in America, it was easier for a relative in America to buy a ticket for their family member in Sweden. Christina may have purchased a ticket for Maria, who later reimbursed her sister.

If Maria bought her ticket in Sweden, then it was best to use an emigrant agent. Shipping lines advertised throughout Sweden and had agents in ports of departure. These agents had sub-agents and representatives throughout the country, including remote rural villages. Often, schoolmasters served as representatives who supplemented their meager income by selling tickets for shipping lines. They distributed leaflets with travel information and posted up placards.

Emigrant agents served as a type of travel agent, advising prospective emigrants about costs and travel routes. The emigrant agents provided a Utvandrare-kontrakt” (emigrant contract), the ticket for the journey. Often, it was a “multi-ticket” that included all the trips along the route – (ship to rail in England and ship to rail in the USA) – and lodging at all the stops.

When Maria and her siblings emigrated, a direct ship route from Sweden to America didn’t exist. Instead, emigrants took a small steamer, known as a ‘feeder ship’ to a British port, such as Hull or Grimsby, on the east coast of England. Then they traveled via train to a larger emigration port, such as Liverpool, where they boarded a transatlantic steamship bound for America or Canada.

Although almost 80% of Swedish emigrants departed from Göteborg, Sweden to Hull, England, I believe that Maria and her siblings left from Christiania, the nearest port city. The distance from Skällarbyn to Christiania was 56 miles versus 165 miles to Göteborg. Emigrants from Värmland who lived close to the Norwegian border often departed from Christiania.

Another reason I concluded Maria and her siblings did not go through Göteborg is they do not appear on the Göteborg emigrant passenger lists. Nor did they appear on the Göteborg police lists, which noted all the passengers who departed from that city. Each emigrant had to provide to the Police Department their “Utvandrare-Kontrakt“(emigrant contract), their ticket for the journey. The Police chamber verified that the ticket was genuine, not fraudulent, and recorded the emigrant on a chronological list.

I also checked the Christiania/Oslo police emigrant lists and found a Marie Nilson who departed in May 1875. It is an assumption, but I believe this might be “my” Maria Nilsdotter, who had already simplified her name before traveling to the United States. Christina may have advised that an American name would make travel easier.

Maria may have traveled via an alternate route from Sweden to England, but I am going on the premise that she chose the most convenient one. Below is a chart outling how Maria might have traveled from Skällarbyn to Clinton, Iowa.


Maria probably relied on Christina’s advice regarding recommended travel items. She may have also read information from travel brochures for emigrants – Vägledning för Svenska utvandrare till Amerika, (Guidance for Swedish Emigrants to America.)

For the two day journey across the North Sea from Christiania to Hull, passengers had to supply their food. Typical items Maria may have brought with her: flatbread (Knäckebröd), butter, hardtack, cheese, herring, and sour milk. The voyage across the Atlantic included meals, although the passengers seldom found them appetizing.

A typical weekly menu for steamship passengers in 1859 contanined the following items:

Sunday: a half pound of beef, porridge, or pudding, dried fruit

Monday: pork, pea soup or boiled cabbage

Tuesday: beef, gruel or peas

Wednesday: beef, rice and molasses

Thursday: beef, porridge or pudding, dried fruit

Friday: beef, pork, pea soup or dried fruit

Saturday: herring or fish, peas or brown beans

Lars Ljungmark, Swedish Exodus, (Southern Illinois University Press, 1979),77.

According to the Swedish and American guide books for the transatlantic trip, third-class passengers needed: mattress, bedding, tinware, plate, mug, knife, fork, spoon, and water pail. If a passenger could not buy the items before they arrived in the port city then a ship’s official could advise where to purchase them inexpensively.

Necessary items during the trip for third class passengers: are the following food containers: plate, drinking cup, water pitcher, knife, fork, spoon. Mattress to lie on, and a blanket. The food containers may be made of tin…The agent can instruct passengers where things can be bought at the cheapest price. Otherwise traders seek to entice passengers to buy too much unnecessarily for a high price.”

Perhaps Maria received advice from Christina similar to what Maria Helene Jonsdotter wrote to her her sister in 1869.

“I advise you not take a lot of linen cloth. Instead bring plenty of tinware. Pack down some food so that you have something to eat, in case you cannot stomach what they give you at sea. Hardtack is good; also some cheese and dried meat. Take along a food basket. When you arrive in America there will be many who approach you and offer you help. But you must watch your step, for there are plenty of scoundrels around you read to cheat the emigrants.”

Lars Ljungmark, Swedish Exodus, (Southern Illinois University Press, 1979),76.

Additional advice about provisions came from handbooks such as the Handbook for Immigrants to the United States.

“An emigrant ought to have one or more stout boxes, well roped, and plainly marked. He should fill it or them with substantial clothing, including boots and shoes, part for winter, part for summer wear, all costing much more in the United States as in America.”

Handbook for Emigrants to the United States, (Hurd and Houghton, New York, 1871), Internet Archive.


The easiest decision for Maria was what time of year to travel. She chose to travel in the spring. According to the Handbook for Emigrants to the United States:

“Spring is by all means the best season, summer the next, autum the next, and winter the worst. In the summer the ocean is even quieter than in the spring, but by going early, one has a better chance of immediate employment on landing. In the winter, rough weather generally prevails on the ocean, but the ships are usually much less crowded than during the rest of the year.”

Emigration Dates for Maria and her siblings:

  1. April 1872 – Christina Nilsdotter -age 32 & son Carl Bryntesson- age 5 (later changed his name to Charles Nelson)
  2. May 1875 – Maria Nilsdotter/Mary Nelson-age 21
  3. April 1880 – Anna Nilsdotter – age 22- traveled as Anna Nyberg with her fiance Carl Nyberg
  4. April 1888 – Per Axel Nilsson – age 26


Before her departure, I imagine Maria’s farewell was much like that of Mina Anderson who emigrated in 1890. Like Maria, she left Sweden in the spring during the month of May.

I left Sweden in the month of May and everthing was in full bloom. It was so beautiful…Nothing could be more beautiful that a Nordic spring. It was not fun to leave all that I loved: father, mother, siblings, friends, and land of my forefathers. I walked around the forest to all the places I had visited as a child. I walked to my childhood home and saw the playhouse my father had helped me to build. An apple tree and a couple of gooseberry bushes that I had planted that had grown and bore fruit – all I had to see and bid farewll to. I became so sad that if I had stayed longer, I think I would never have been able to leave. The day arrived when I tearfully said farewell to all that had been the joy of my childhood and youth.”

Joy K. Lintelman, I Go to America, Swedish American Women and the Life of Mina Anderson (Minnesota, Minnesota Hisorical Press, 2009), 67.

Train station 1887- Image courtesy of Järnvägsmuseet, public domain.

Tickets, documents, and baggage in hand, Maria commenced her journey in late May 1875. Likely accompanied by both of her parents, Maria probably traveled by carriage 13 miles to the nearest railroad station in Arvika, constructed in 1871.

Google maps – first leg of Maria’s journey – Skällarbyn-Arvika-Charlottenberg-Christiania/Oslo

The trip to Christiania took ten hours on the slow train, seven on the fast one. There were two trains a day with a stop in Ottebo, Amot, and Charlottenberg. Located 24 miles from Arvika, Charlottenberg served as the frontier point between the Sweden and Norway railway system. After an all-day train ride, Maria arrived in Christiania, where she spent at least one night before then next leg of her trip – her first experience aboard a steamship.

Postcard of Christiania – circa 1919, image courtesy of

The Wilson shipping line had a weekly service from Christiania to Hull with departure scheduled every Friday. Based on the Oslo police records for emigrants, and the ship records, Maria probably departed Christiania on Friday, May 28, 1875 on the S.S. Hero. Originally, I thought she left Christiania on May 21, 1875 on the S.S. Angelo.

Advertisement: Wilson’s Steamships for Emigrants. The well-known and comfortable steamships HERO and ALBION – CHRISTIANIA TO HULL – Every Friday afternoon.

Thanks to a thoughtful Swedish genealogist who recognized an error I made regarding Maria’s departure date from Skällarbyn, I revised her travel schedule. When I viewed the “Moving Out” records (Utflyttades), I saw the date as “May 14”, instead it was “May 24”. Rather than a newer ship, the S.S. Angelo, launched in 1874, Maria would have boarded a smaller and older vessel, the S.S. Hero. Built in 1866 at Hull England, the 1034 ton ship had two decks, 2 bulkheads and three partial bulkheads.

S.S. HERO, Wilson Line Steamship built in 1866 at Hull England, by C.W. Earle. Norway

Generally, the passengers began to arrive for boarding between 2:00-3:00 p.m., and the vessel sailed at 5:00 p.m. It usually docked in Hull Sunday evening or Monday morning, which would have given Maria time to connect with her transatlantic steamer, scheduled to depart on Wednesday, June 2, 1875.

Emigrants experienced mixed emotions on the day they departed from Christiania to Hull, excitement, confusion, anticipation, as well as sadness. As she boarded the small steamship, referred to as a ‘feeder ship’, Maria may have known from her sister’s letters that crossing the North Sea would be grueling. Wilson’s “old tubs” had a reputation for rolling in the heavy gales. For many emigrants, the 40 hours aboard the ‘feeder ship’ were much more punishing than the Liverpool to New York trip, which took five times longer.

S.S. Angelo (Wilson Line steamship) leaving Christiania with emigrants for America. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

An article in the Swedish American Genealogist described a newspaper reporter’s eye-witness account carried in The Göteborgs Handels -och Sjöfartstidning on August 26, 1865. Although this describes a voyage from Göteborg to Hull, the trip from Christiania to Hull would have been very similar.

“Every week we witness larger and smaller groups of peasants from almost every province in Sweden, who have arrived here, ostensibly to travel with the large British steamships to the New World. The entire deck is covered with chests and bed clothes. The motivating drive for making this journey is the fact that relatives in America have written letters telling of how good life is over there…Down in the harbor, where the Hull steamer Argo is docked, there is life and activity. The deck has to be cleared before departure, and now everybody is working desperately to stow the baggage. The emigrants are to be quartered on the middle deck..Boys and girls, mothers with babies, still nursing, young and old, every class of humanity is represented here. The family fathers are attempting to cheer up their families, telling them to keep up their courage. The women seem passive. The Word of God is on their lips and with tearful eyes and anxiety in their hearts they attempt to sing a religous hymn in their solemn meditation..Now the signal is given and the departure is at hand. Now the situation changes. Friends and relatives leave the ship. The passengers gather along the railing for the last look at the city. Now the engines start up and there is unrest on board, weeping, moaning, crying and shrieking is heard. Many of the passengers change their moods as they soberly reminisce about their homes and life in their native land. ‘Farewell dear Sweden’ is the cry one hears from many lip.”

“Emigrant Traffic on the North Sea,” Swedish American Genealogist, Vol 34/Number 1 Article 11.(

Unfavorable conditions aboard the ‘feeder ships’ from Christiania to Hull resulted in a series of five reports by the Assistant Secretary of the Marine Department Board of Trade in 1881. Charles P. Wilson, Principal Officer, described the scene aboard the S.S. Angelo. Conditions aboard the S. S. Hero were probably more extreme because it was almost ten years older than the Angelo, and had transported thousands of emigrants.

On board the above-named vessel, the emigrants were berthed in two different compartments, one forward, the other aft…The sleeping accomodations consists of two shelves on each side of the vessel running the entire length of the compartment; these shelves have no sub-divisions of any kind denoting the berthing space of each emigrant…At midnight I went round the decks with the captain; they were well it, and everything was quite quiet…The emigrants appeared to huddle together very much, and there was no attempt at undressing; in fact, no effort was made to remove such articles as boots, and I noticed several sleeping in their hats, caps and other head coverings…I also noticed that several of them laid at a slight angle, and not exactly on the shelf, but his was doubtless due to the width of the shelf being insufficient for them to stretch their legs out to their full length…From the foregoing it will be gathered that there was no attempt at the subdivision of the sexes, or even of the individual berths, nor any curtain to screen the sleeping arrangements from the central portion of the deck.

The privy arrangements of this vessel I consider to be the weakest point about her. They were small, cramped, dark spaces, without water, those for men and women being close together, the entrance in no way protected from the weather, and altogether more evil-smelling unsatisfactory places it is difficult to imagine…When the ship is carring her full number of emigrants I doubt if there are privies enough supplied, but on this point if there were four for the first hundered and one for every fifty in addition, it would be sufficient to meet the requirements of any number.”

The Voyage, Conditions for emigrants on the voyage from Christiania to Hull“,

To further illustrate the unpleasant North Sea transit Maria probably experienced, here is Mina Anderson’s account.

“I traveled alone without any companions that I knew…We had a severe storm in the North Sea. When we had come out into the Skagerrak [the strait in the North Sea between Norway and Denmark], the waves started to break over the small ship, and some of us who had stayed on deck were told to go down belowdecks so that tarps could be spread over the hatch. It turned out to be a stormy night. We were all seasick and cried “Ullrik” [euphemism for vomiting] all night. Some idiot had opened one of the portholes so that the water was streaming in. Somebody had sense enough to close it, but we ended up with a couple inches of water on the floor. All the single women were sharing one large room.

We could not eat anything – they gave us coarse bread with butter, but we were not given any coffee. It was storming too hard so they could not prepare it. When after much rolling and seasickness, we finally arrived in Hull and the ship stopped we got well in a hurry.”

Joy K. Lintelman, I go to America, Swedish American Women and the Life of Mina Anderson (Minnesota, Minnesota Historical Press, 2009), 68.


After about three days of travel, the S.S. Angelo arrived at Kingston upon Hull on the Humber River. According to the Swedish Emigrant Handbook, an experienced company official would meet the emigrants in Hull as they disembarked. If the agent fulfilled all of his duties, he would also take care of the transportation of the luggage. The Swedish speaking official would then guide the emigrants to Paragon Railway station, built in 1871. There the emigrants could rest in the waiting room, wash, use the toilet, and take shelter from the weather. Most emigrants arrived and departed from Hull within 24 hours.

Victoria Pier, Hull, postcard from an emigrant in 1905 who crossed North Sea on Wilson Line steamship. Courtesy of

The Emigrant Waiting Room of the North Eastern Railway Comapny at Hull Paragon Railway Company at Hull Paragon Railway Station. The waiting room was built for the Scandanavian transmigrants in 1871. [Photograph copyright of the Nichols Evans Collection]

The trains usually left Hull on a Monday morning around 11:00 a.m. At times there were so many emigrants that there would be 17 carriages pulled by one steam engine. During the five hour trip, third-class passengers had no access to water nor restrooms.

The train arrived in Liverpool between 2:00-3:00 p.m. The huge factory town did not make a favorable impression. Dense smoke rose in columns from tall chimneys. Large grey houses and dirty alleys filled with ragged half naked streetboys might have surprised the emigrants, including Maria.

Mina Anderson described her train travel from Hull to Liverpool.

“We traveled by train from Hull to Liverpool. I still remember how England was both beautiful and ugly. The countryside was beautiful with its green fields, with hawthorn hedges instead of fences. We also traveled through the mining district with its soot and its many tunnels. We stayed in Liverpool for three days and waited for the transatlantic steamer.”

Joy K. Lintelman, I go to America, Swedish American Women and the Life of Mina Anderson (Minnesota, Minnesota Historical Press, 2009), 69.

Liverpool, England, postcard author’s personal collection.

Upon their arrival in Liverpool, representatives from the steamship companies often met the emigrants. They accompanied them to lodging houses, usually owned by the shipping company. Frequently there were delays and passengers had to spend several days waiting for their ship. They weren’t allowed to board until the day before departure.

After approximately six days of travel, Maria waited in Liverpool about to undertake the longest part of her journey – the transatlantic voyage.

(To be continued)

© 2020 copyright -Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.


Genealogy Sketch

Parents: NILS PERSSON 1824-1909 and
Spouse: JOHN MATHEW NICHOLS 1857-1929
Children:Carrie Bertha Nichols 1881-1915, Charles Clinton Nichols 1883-1930, Frederick Mathew Nichols 1885-1957, Mabel Elvina Nichols Hyde 1888-1954, John Lee Nichols 1890-1967
Relationship to Kendra: [Great-Great-Grandmother]

  1. [Maria Nilsdotter/Mary Nelson 1854-1931]
  2. [Mabel Elvina Nichols Hyde 1888-1954]
  3. [John Frederick Hyde Jr 1911-1980]
  4. [Jean Hyde Hopp Eichorn]
  5. Kendra



  • Arkivverrket Digitalarkivet –
  • Bonnier, Adolf. The Traveler’s Guide in Sweden and the Most Interesting Places in Norway. Stockholm. 1871.
  • – (
  • From the Promised Land:Swedes in America, 1840-1914. H. Arnold Barton, editor. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press for Swedish Pioneer Historical Society, 2000.
  • GG Archives –
  • “Handbook for Immigrants to the United States,” Hurd and Houghton, New York, 1871.
  • Högman, Hans. Hans Högman’s Genealogy and History Site,
  • Järnvägsmuseet –
  • Ljungmark, Lars. Translated by Kermit B. Westerberg, Swedsih Exodus. Carbondale and Edwardsville:Southern Illinois University Press, 1979.
  • Library Of Congress –
  • Lintelman, Joy K. I go to America:Swedish Women and the Life of Mina Anderson. St Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Press, 2009.
  • Martenius, Ingela. “The Swedish Emigration to America.”
  • National Library of Sweden
  • – Emigrant Routes to the Promised Land – pdf
  • Ole Larson’s Folks Blog –
  • Olsson, Nils William. “Emigrant Traffic on the North Sea,” Swedish American Genealogist, Vol 34/Number 1 Article 11.
  • “The Emigration Inquiry – Appendix II – The Emigration Service in Sweden”, (


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