The Traveling Trunk

 

TALES OF A TRAVELING STEAMER TRUNK

If your family heirloom could talk, what stories would it tell? The steamer travel trunk I inherited has 120 years of travel tales to share. My 2x great-grandparents, Clinton Delos Orcutt, and Anna Dorcas Orcutt, nee Dutton,  purchased the trunk about 1895 for my great-grandmother, Edith Marion Orcutt.  Edith, who married Alfred James Beaton in 1899,  loaned the trunk to her only daughter,  Anna Jane (Beaton) Hyde for various trips.  The trunk eventually passed to my mother, Jean (Hyde) Hopp Eichorn.The Omaha steamer trunk journeyed across the United States, and back and forth over the Atlantic Ocean. Wouldn’t it be fascinating if the trunk held a written log of all the trips it made?

Omaha Travel Trunk, c. 1895, in possession of author.

Omaha Travel Trunk, c. 1895, in possession of author.

TRAVEL DESTINATIONS

1895 Constructed in Omaha, Nebraska by Omaha Trunk Factory

1895-1896 Omaha, Nebraska – St. Louis, Missouri

1901 Omaha, Nebraska – England, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Italy

1925 Omaha, Nebraska – Manhattanville, New York

1929 Omaha, Nebraska – England, Italy, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Morocco and France

1964 Omaha, Nebraska – Platteville, Colorado

1983 Mead, Colorado – Tucson, Arizona

2001 Tucson, Arizona – El Paso, Texas

2003 El Paso, Texas – Berlin, Germany

2009 Berlin, Germany – Alexandria, Virginia

STORIES MY MOTHER TOLD ME ABOUT THE TRUNK

Growing up  in Omaha Nebraska, Jean Hyde,  used to visit her grandmother, Edith (Orcutt) Beaton, affectionately called“Dee Dee,” once a week after school. Jean quickly walked the 10-minutes from Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart to Dee Dee’s house at 502 North 40th Street.  During recess, she and her friends plotted how they could sneak off the grounds so they could play in her grandmother’s attic. Although Mother always referred to it as “the attic”, it was really the spacious third-floor ballroom of the turn of the 20th century home, now a historic landmark in Omaha[1]

Alfred and Edith (Orcutt) Beaton home 1912, Omaha, NE. Anna Jane Beaton, Orcutt Beaton, and Nanny Lucille in front of the home. Original photo in author's possession.

Alfred and Edith (Orcutt) Beaton home 1912, Omaha, NE. Anna Jane Beaton, Orcutt Beaton, and Nanny Lucille in front of the home. Original photo in author’s possession.

As my mother and her friends scampered up the stairs to the third floor, they anticipated digging into the large steamer trunk filled with dress-up clothes from a bygone era. There were elegant dresses, once worn by great-aunts, ostrich feather boas, long gloves, plumed hats, and fancy heeled shoes. The young girls spent many hours prancing about in their finery.

Jean Hyde, 1948, Omaha, Nebraska, wearing her school uniform for Duchesne Sacred Heart Academy.

Jean Hyde, 1948, Omaha, Nebraska, wearing her school uniform for Duchesne Sacred Heart Academy.

MY MEMORIES OF THE TRAVEL TRUNK

An attic stuffed with treasures is a child’s fantasy.  Although my family didn’t have an attic, nor a ballroom,  our house had a large basement where my siblings and I played on freezing winter days. Fueled by our imaginations, Western TV shows, and Laura Ingalls Wilder books, my sister, Karen, and I pretended we were pioneers on the wild western frontier. We supplied our “cabin” with necessary articles discovered in the basement storage cupboards. There were also two steamer trunks shoved against the wall.  Rectangular, massive, and seemingly immovable, we were certain they contained treasures we needed.  We eyed the largest and oldest. The large lock hung loosely, the key lost. Horseshoe shaped metal hinges and long leather straps adorned each side. A small tin plate affixed to the top read, “Manufactured by Omaha Trunk Factory, Omaha, NE.”

Manufactured by Omaha Trunk Factory, Omaha, Neb.

Manufactured by Omaha Trunk Factory, Omaha, Neb.

We inched the heavy trunk away from the wall, unfastened the leather straps, and pried open the lid. I still remember the wonder as we peered inside.

omaha travel turnk logo

Travel Trunk sitting empty in Berlin, Germany, 2008. Trunk in possession of author.

Initially, the divided top section disappointed us. It contained old newspaper clippings, letters, and photographs; these things were not very interesting to an eight and nine-year old. We strained to lift the compartment out and found just what we needed. Stacks of baby blankets, clothes, and paraphernalia were perfect for dressing up our dolls. With our mother’s approval, we spent many happy hours combing through the trunk.

ORIGINS OF THE TRAVEL TRUNK

The Omaha Travel Trunk company sold trunks, traveling bags, suitcases, Mexican hand sewn pocket-books, purses and ladies belts. Located at 1209 Farnam Street in Omaha, Nebraska, the company regularly advertised in the Omaha Daily Bee.[2]   Proprietor Charles Koran immigrated to the U.S. from Bohemia and began manufacturing trunks in Omaha about 1895. The business expanded and continued until the 1940’s.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Omaha Trunk Factory, Omaha, Nebraska. Courtesy of http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/

Omaha Trunk Factory, Omaha, Nebraska. Courtesy of http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ Omaha Daily Bee 17 December 1899.

It’s likely that Dee Dee’s parents, Clinton and Anna Orcutt, purchased the steamer trunk in 1895 for her travel to Sacred Heart Academy in St. Louis, Missouri. Sixteen year-old Dee Dee attended the Academy in St. Louis for the next two years.

Edith Marion Orcutt, about 1896, Omaha, Nebraska. Copy of photo in possession of author.

Edith Marion Orcutt, about 1896, Omaha, Nebraska. Copy of photo in possession of author.

“Mr. C.D. Orcutt and Miss Edith left yesterday for St. Louis, where Miss Edith will enter the Convent of Sacred Heart at Maryville.”[3]

“Miss Edith Orcutt left for St. Louis last evening, where she will continue her studies at the school of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart.”[4]

TRAVEL TRUNK GOES TO EUROPE

In 1901, Clinton Orcutt packed his bags for a four-month trip to Europe. He was wealthy, widowed and had two young, unmarried daughters who would benefit from a sojourn exploring the major cities abroad. Dee Dee and Alfred Beaton and their 4-year-old son, Orcutt Beaton, remained in Omaha.

Anna Ri Orcutt, c. 1900, Omaha, Nebraska.

Anna Ri Orcutt, c. 1900, Omaha, Nebraska.

 

Jane Clare Orcutt 1903, Omaha, Nebraska.

Jane Clare Orcutt – “Jennie”- 1903, Omaha, Nebraska. Photograph taken for her society debut.

Anni Ri age- 20 and Jane Clare age- 17,accompanied their father on the extended trip. “The desire and curiosity to see and experience the Old World was fueled by popular novels and travel writings of American authors Nathanial Hawthorne, Mark Twain and others, who by writing and romanticizing their time abroad, excited and encouraged their readers in the United States to go and see Great Britain and Europe for themselves. Experiencing Europe firsthand was to become the “finishing” of American upper-middle-class youth before they got down to the business of real life; work and raising a family.”[5]

My grandmother saved  Clinton Orcutt’s travel album.  The photos weren’t dated, nor were all the locations noted. Using Chronicling America’s newspaper website, I found a couple of articles describing their departure in the summer of 1901.

Clinton Orcutt Travel Album 1901-1904, Europe, Yellowstone, Mexico.

Clinton Orcutt Travel Album 1901-1904, Europe, Yellowstone, Mexico.

“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.”[6]

“Clinton Orcutt the Misses Orcutt and Mrs. Martha Blackwell sailed from New York on Saturday for Europe.”

“C.D. Orcutt and his two daughters left Omaha last week for Europe. They sailed Saturday from Montreal and will travel on the continent for four months.”[7]

Clinton Orcutt and daughters, Anna Ri and Jennie travel to Europe, summer of 1901.

Clinton Orcutt and daughters, Anna Ri and Jennie travel to Europe, summer of 1901. Courtesy of http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ – Omaha Daily Bee, 9 June 1901.

Clinton Orcutt and his two daughters sail to Europe, June 1901.

Clinton Orcutt and his two daughters sail to Europe, June 1901. Courtesy of http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/, Omaha Daily Bee, 5 May 1901.

Clinton, Anna Ri and Jane Orcutt. Venice, Italy, summer 1901.

Clinton and Anna Ri Orcutt, . Venice, Italy, summer 1901.

Clinton, Anna Ri, and Jane Orcutt. European tour, summer 1901, possibly in Germany.

Clinton, Anna Ri, and Jane Orcutt. European tour, summer 1901, possibly in Germany.

The pictures scanned from the photo album are a bit blurry.  I intend to re-scan them at a higher resolution in the future.. The travel album is also worthy of a separate blog.

TRAVEL TRUNK GOES TO NEW YORK

Like her mother and her aunts, Anna Jane attended a Sacred Heart Academy. From elementary school through college, Anna Jane was a devoted student at Duchesne Sacred Heart Academy in Omaha, Nebraska. She sought a bit of excitement and change. In her Junior year, she chose to go with her best friend, Jean McGrath, to the Sacred Heart Academy in Manhattanville, New York. The Omaha Travel Trunk accompanied her. I know she had a grand time while she was there and recall how her sapphire blue eyes sparkled when she recounted  her adventures.

Anna Jane Beaton, 1925, Manhattanville, NY. Newspaper clipping from her scrapbook.

Anna Jane Beaton, 1925, Manhattanville, NY. Newspaper clipping from her scrapbook.

Among the attractive members of the school set who will return home soon is Miss Anna Jane Beaton. Miss Beaton will arrive Saturday from Manhattanville Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York, to spend the summer with her mother, Mrs. G.W. Uttendorfer [Edith Orcutt Beaton Uttendorfer] and Mr. Uttendorfer. Miss Beaton formerly attended Duchesne college.”

A SECOND TRIP TO EUROPE

Anna Janes’s favorite aunt, Jane Clare (Orcutt) Keeline, died in 1918 due to an internal hemorrhage from a tubal pregnancy. She left her only niece an inheritance that enabled Anna Jane to travel to Europe during the summer of 1929. She traveled as part of a group that departed June 29, 1929, at 12:00 noon from Cunard Pier, No. 56 in New York aboard the RMS Lancastria.

RMS Lancastria room designation for Anna Jane Beaton, June 29, 1929. European tour.

RMS Lancastria room designation for Anna Jane Beaton, June 29, 1929, European tour.

Anna Jane Beaton May 1929, passport, Omaha, Nebraska.

Anna Jane Beaton May 1929, passport, Omaha, Nebraska.

Newspaper article from scrapbook of Anna Jane Beaton's trip to Europe, June 1929.

Newspaper article from scrapbook of Anna Jane Beaton’s trip to Europe, June 1929.

Anna Jane wrote her mother a letter from London that stated they had a smooth crossing. “Miss Beaton reported a very fine time on the boat with social and athletic activities at all hours of the day.”[8] The group traveled throughout Europe until the end of August 1929.

RMS Lancastria, Morocco, summer 1929.

RMS Lancastria, Morocco, summer 1929.

TRAVEL TRUNK MOVES TO COLORADO, ARIZONA, AND TEXAS AND THIRD TRIP TO EUROPE

After Anna Jane’s trip to Europe,the trunk  sat upstairs at Dee Dee’s collecting dust. It was here on the third floor where my mother and her friends opened the travel trunk and excitedly explored the contents.  After Dee Dee’s death in 1964 the trunk made another trip, this time to Platteville, Colorado where my parents lived.  My mother’s uncle, Orcutt Beaton, who continued to live in the Beaton home, shipped the trunk via railway to her.

BEATON_Orcutt_HOPP_Jean_c1960_CO_trunk_0002

REA ticket to send the Omaha trunk by Rail: From: Orcutt Phillip Beaton, 502nd N. 4oth Street, Omaha, NE TO: Mrs Kenneth Hopp (Jean Hyde Hopp) Route 2 Box 87, Platteville, CO. Year mailed about 1964.

It stayed in Colorado for 30 years until my mother relocated to sunny Arizona in 1994. When I moved to El Paso, Texas in 1996, I asked Mother if I could have the steamer trunk. At the time I  didn’t know the entire background, but I knew I liked the trunk and its connection to my family . When my husband and I moved to Berlin, Germany in 2003, the trunk went with us and served as storage for letters and memorabilia. The Omaha Travel Trunk is now in climate controlled storage in Alexandria, VA protecting all of my original genealogy documents until my return in a couple of years.

Omaha Travel Trunk filled with archival boxes and family documents.

Omaha Travel Trunk filled with archival boxes and family documents.

 

 

[1] © 2015 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.

An Inventory of Historic Omaha Buildings. Omaha, Landmarks Inc., 1980.

[2] Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]), 17 Dec. 1899. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn99021999/1899-12-17/ed-1/seq-23/&gt;

[3] Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]), 06 Oct. 1895. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn99021999/1895-10-06/ed-1/seq-4/

[4] Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]), 15 Jan. 1896. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn99021999/1896-01-15/ed-1/seq-8/&gt;

[5]Arnold, Clarissa Sands. Four Girls in Europe.Deborah Stewart Weber ed. Bloomington:iUniverse, Ic., 2010.Page xi.

[6]Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]), 05 May 1901. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn99021999/1901-05-05/ed-1/seq-6/&gt;

[7] Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]), 09 June 1901. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn99021999/1901-06-09/ed-1/seq-6/&gt;

[8] Omaha World Herald. (Omaha [Neb]), 23 July 1929. Page 14. http://www.genealogybank.com

 

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Edith Marion ORCUTT BEATON -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

  1. Edith Marion ORCUTT BEATON UTTENDORFER
  2. Anna Jane BEATON HYDE
  3. Jean HYDE HOPP EICHORN
  4. Kendra HOPP SCHMIDT

 

HEIRLOOM POSTS shared by other bloggers:

Thanks to Jeanne Bryan Insalaco of Everyone Has a Story for suggesting doing posts on heirlooms and to Cathy Meder-Dempsey  of Opening Doors in Brick Walls for including a list of  Heirloom bloggers and their links.

True Lewis at Notes to Myself

Cathy Meder-Dempsey of Opening Doors in Brick Walls

Jeanne Bryan Insalaco at Everyone Has a Story

Schalene Jennings Dagutis at Tangled Roots and Trees

Karen Biesfeld at Vorfahrensucher

Linda Stufflebean at Empty Branches on the Family Tree.

Vera Marie Badertscher at Ancestors in Aprons

Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme for 2015 Week 24 was Heirlooms. Please visit her 52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 24 Recap for the links to posts in the comments.

 

 

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About treeklimber

An interest in history and travel lends itself to a passion for genealogy. The more I research, the more I realize there is to discover. It is a never-ending puzzle.
This entry was posted in Heirlooms, My Family Ancestry and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Traveling Trunk

  1. Kendra the heirloom theme is going to be a great asset to our blogs, writing and research. I love how you took your reader on the journey with the trunk including the newspaper clippings and photos of the characters.

    Like

  2. Karen Kenagy says:

    Great Story Kendra. It is amazing all the details you can construct through the available documentation. I do remember opening the trunk, putting the baby clothes on my dolls, and mothers western skirts and the old fashioned dresses we wore as we created the “Old West”. This is back in the days when Bonanza played on TV.

    Like

    • treeklimber says:

      It’s fascinating putting all the information together. Thanks for reading and commenting. I love sharing with you since it is a part of your history too. Wish we had some pictures of us playing dress-up.

      Like

  3. Love Love Love it! What a well known trunk now! It could go on broadway!

    Like

    • treeklimber says:

      Thank you Jeanne. I appreciate you read the blog and your comments. 🙂 It’s fun to share family history with other genealogy bloggers who derive as much pleasure as I do in the research and the stories. Thank you for initiating this theme.

      Like

  4. pastsmith says:

    Wow. I am blown away by all the info you shared about your trunk. What an heirloom.

    Like

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