ORCUTTs at the Easel

Is there an artist in your family, either professional or amateur?  If your ancestor left only one piece of artwork, what impressions might you attribute to the artist?

Marion Edith Orcutt still life painting 1898, Omaha, Nebraska.

Marion Edith Orcutt still life painting 1898, Omaha, Nebraska.

In my earlier post, I wrote about the Orcutt family portraits of Clinton, Anna, and their daughter Anna Ri.  There were two other daughters, Jane  Clare, and Marion Edith, but no portraits exist of them. However, Edith painted and thought of herself as an artist. Her elder brother, Louis, dabbled in pencil sketches, and one sketch has survived 115 years. I know  a lot about my great-grandmother Edith, but I know very little about Louis. My impressions of him are based on one solitary drawing saved by his family and a few directory listings.

During the 19th century, an affluent woman with leisure time expressed creativity through “fancywork”. Hobbies Included needlework, leatherwork, painting, gardening, and music, all intended to demonstrate affluence and influence in society. Fine artwork, such as an oil painting might have been exhibited at a local art society, but “most women made sand pictures, feather pictures, and shell boxes to decorate their homes.” [1]  Did Edith exhibit her oil painting at the local art society?

In 1896 at seventeen, Edith Orcutt completed her education at Sacred Heart Academy in Omaha, Nebraska.  She had time on her hands and filled it with activities typical for her social class, attending parties, outings, dance, music, and artwork. She must have taken her artwork seriously because, in the 1897 Omaha Directory, she lists herself as an “artist”.[2]

Orcutt, Edith, artist r 550 s 26th. Image courtesy of www.ancestry.com.

Orcutt, Edith, artist r 550 s 26th. Image courtesy of http://www.ancestry.com.

Her only surviving painting demonstrates technique and skill wielding a paintbrush. The large rectangular painting framed in ornate gold is proudly signed “M. Edith Orcutt, ‘98”.

M. Edith Orcutt '98- Signature of Marion Edith Orcutt 1898, Omaha, NE.

M. Edith Orcutt ’98- Signature of Marion Edith Orcutt 1898, Omaha, NE.

The still life displays two vases covered with a bouquet of flowers. A large copper vessel encircled by  animals overflows with lush, pink and yellow roses in full blossom. Roses cascade on a delicate cream lace tablecloth. Soft violet blossoms fill a small green pottery vase with one handle. Was it summer and Edith collected the flowers from the garden to use as her motif?

Marion Edith Orcutt still life painting 1898, Omaha, Nebraska.

Marion Edith Orcutt still life painting 1898, Omaha, Nebraska.

Edith received painting lessons from Frances Miller Mumaugh, a landscape artist who trained with several prominent American artists in New York where she was born. After relocating to Omaha, Nebraska, Frances continued to travel abroad studying and painting. She is most noted for her floral still life paintings, including one that looks similar to the painting by Edith.

Frances Miller Mumaugh

Still life of roses by Frances Miller Mumaugh

Based on  the 1897 directory date and the date on the painting, Edith painted for at least 10 years. How many other paintings were there? What happened to them? Maybe she stopped painting after her marriage in 1899. She valued this painting enough to elegantly frame it and pass it on in the family.

Edith admired her teacher and I imagine a friendship developed between the two women, despite the 20 year age difference. As a token of this friendship, Frances gave Edith a quaint painting of a donkey. My mother has always treasured the painting and it still hangs on her wall.

ORCUTT_Edith_gift_frm_painting_Eacher

Donkey painting by Frances Miller Mumaugh given to Edith Orcutt

Louis Deforest Orcutt, Edith’s elder brother, practiced his art skills too. He was the first-born in the family and the only remaining son. The 1890 Omaha Directory  lists him as a student.[3]

Louis Orcutt - student - Omaha City Directory 1891. Image courtesy of www.ancestry.com

Louis Orcutt – student – Omaha City Directory 1891. Image courtesy of http://www.ancestry.com

Did he study at Creighton University? Was he studying law as his father?  The following year, in September 1891, Louis died at his home. His obituary doesn’t list the cause of death.  There are no photographs of Louis that survived. I’m fairly certain they existed because there are pictures of the other four children. Just one piece of artwork with his signature survives, dated 1890.

Louis Orcutt, 1890, Omaha, Nebraska.

Louis Orcutt, 1890, Omaha, Nebraska.

Louis DeForest Orcutt pencil drawing dated 1890, Omaha, Nebraska.

Louis DeForest Orcutt pencil drawing dated 1890, Omaha, Nebraska.

The young man chose an appealing subject for his age,  a bottle of imported Ale.  Maybe it was his favorite brew and he slowly sipped it while he drew. The pencil sketch depicts a bottle of Liverpool Pale Ale. The bottle is open and near it is a tall, narrow glass.  I picture Louis relishing his Ale while he carefully labeled the bottle with the name of the distiller,  E. & J. Burke. Edward Frederick Burke and John Burke were Irish distillers  of stout from County Galway who established a successful business in New York. [4]

Brother and sister united in their interest in art. Did Edith save his drawing as a memento after his death? I feel as if I know my great-grandmother, Edith, because my mother and grandmother shared stories. There are many photos and newspaper articles to document her life.   Her brother, Louis, is an enigma. There are no documents, letters, or photographs that reveal more about him. A simple pencil sketch is all that remains of him; it evokes a feeling of lost youth.

 

© 2015 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.

[1] Barnett, George A, ed. Encyclopedia of Social Networks. (London, United Kingdom, 2011), 380; digital images,  Google Books. http://google.com/books  : accessed 3 December 2015.
[2] Omaha City Directory, Omaha Directory Company Inc, Omaha Printing Co., Omaha, NE, for 1896, database Ancestry (www.ancestry.com:accessed [Dec 3, 2015]) 405.
[3] Omaha City & South Omaha City Directory, J.M. Wolfe & Co., Publishers, for 1891, database Ancestry (www.ancestry.com: accessed [Dec 4, 2015]) 411.
[4] Grutchfield, Walter. “E. & J. Burke.” E. & J. Burke. N.p., 2015. Web. 03 Dec. 2015. <http://www.waltergrutchfield.net/burke.htm&gt;.

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.

 

 

Posted in Heirlooms, My Family Ancestry | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

ORCUTT FAMILY PORTRAITS

Orcutt Family Portraits

Orcutt Family Portraits

Walk into many antique stores and you find photographs and portraits lost or discarded by families. Who were these people? How did their images end up in an antique store or even at a Cracker Barrel restaurant? Did no one in the family want to keep them? The Clinton Orcutt family,  featured in the The Traveling Trunk, is an example where one portrait is not treasured.

My first memories of three Orcutt family portraits are seeing them in my grandmother’s home in Omaha, Nebraska. Although my grandmother never knew her grandparents, Clinton and Anna Orcutt, she treasured both of their portraits. When she downsized and moved to successively smaller apartments, they went with her, including her move to Tucson, Arizona. There was a third portrait that my grandmother chose not to keep, a painting of her aunt, Anna Ri Orcutt. My grandmother rarely uttered an unkind word, but she was not fond of Auntie Ri.

A successful businessman in Omaha, Nebraska, Clinton Delos Orcutt enjoyed a very comfortable life and many luxuries.  He and his wife Anna Dorcas Dutton probably had their portraits painted by an unknown artist, an itinerant limner, who moved from town to town. [1] None of the portraits are signed, nor are they dated. Using old photographs to determine their ages and fashion styles,  I believe they were painted in the 1890’s. If you need assistance dating photographs, I highly recommend an online article by Nancy J. Price, “Style Clues & Cues in Antique Photos.” It features links to other websites to analyse pictures and portraits.[2] A good book choice is Family Photo Detective by Maureen A. Taylor.[3]

The smallest of the portraits is a gold oval frame 28 x 31 inches. Centred on the top, bottom and sides are clusters of flowers. A gold plaque affixed to the bottom states “Anna Dutton Orcutt 1848-1899”. Whoever added the dates to the portrait made an error.The birth year noted on the plaque is off by six years because Anna was born in 1842.

Anna Dorcas Dutton Orcutt - portrait painted about 1890 in Omaha, NE. Portrait in possession of author.

Anna Dorcas Dutton Orcutt – portrait painted about 1890 in Omaha, NE. Portrait in possession of author.

Her profile shows a gentle face tinged with a bit of sorrow. She lost her two sons, one at age 12 and the other at 20. If she was anything like her daughter, Edith Orcutt Beaton, and her granddaughter, Anna Jane Beaton Hyde, then she was a gentle woman with a strong spirit and resolution. Anna Dutton Orcutt came from a long line of ministers and abolitionists and descends directly from Governor William Bradford.

Dressed for the occasion, Anna wore a dark satin dress with full sleeves. Frothy lace covered the bodice and neck and a matching band of silk encircles her throat. Pearl earrings adorn her ears, and her hair is sculpted into a topknot with loose curls around her forehead. She is a striking matron and society lady.

Clinton Delos Orcutt has a distinguished and kind face. He wears a dark suit with a starched white shirt and bow tie. His wavy silver hair and beard are neatly combed. When we packed his portrait up for storage for our overseas assignment, the mover asked, “Is this a relative of George Clooney?”  The answer is no, but I rather liked the question. The frame for Clinton’s portrait is much more ornate and larger than Anna’s. When I gaze at the two portraits facing each other on the wall, I can sense the quiet nature of Anna and the strength of Clinton.

Clinton Delos Orcutt - painted about 1890 in Omaha, NE. Portrait in possession of author.

Clinton Delos Orcutt – painted about 1890 in Omaha, NE. Portrait in possession of author.

The daughter of Clinton and Anna, and their fourth child, Anna Ri was considered the beauty of the family. Perhaps that is why her portrait was painted but not her two sisters. Her sweet young face looks out at the viewer and she sports a lavish, ostentatious, wide-brimmed hat decked with plumes. Her gown is elaborate and reflects fashion from the early 1900’s characterized by the S-shaped figure. The “Health Corset” of the 1900’s “removed pressure from the waist and diaphragm but resulted in thrusting the bosom forward and the hips back.”[4] White lacy frills on the bodice and skirt are framed by an even more embellished light gold wrap patterned with black silk ribbon and embroidery. Anna Ri’s portrait depicts her in a woodland scene. The rectangular frame is even more ornate than that of her fathers. I surmise that after Anna Orcutt had passed away, Clinton wanted to make his daughters happy with whatever he could buy them.

Anna Ri Orcutt Jaques- portrait painted about 1900 Omaha, NE. Current owner unknown.

Anna Ri Orcutt Jaques- portrait painted about 1900 Omaha, NE. Current owner unknown.

My grandmother, Anna Jane Beaton Hyde, wrote a brief summary about Anna Ri and although she looks sweet in her portrait, those are not the memories my grandmother recalled.

 “Saga of Auntie Ri”

“Auntie Ri was very extravagant and society-minded. Mother [Edith Orcutt Beaton] said she used to keep the horses waiting all afternoon at Brandeis[5] 17th Street entrance while she bought clothes. Mother said the painting alone cost $850 without the gold leaf frame.”[Using an online calculator, if the painting cost $850 in 1900, today it would cost about $25,000.] 6

The Orcutt portraits are a historical and social document of their lives. They were a symbol of their status in life viewed by family, friends, guests and servants. “A portrait is more than a pretty picture of a famous or wealthy person.” [7] I imagine they were prominently displayed so that viewers could admire them. Did they grace the reception hall in the entrance of the home where Anna Ri’s portrait hung on the wall? You get a glimpse of Anna Ri’s portrait in one of her wedding album photos. Her sister, and my great-grandmother, Edith Orcutt Beaton, poses in the reception room amidst a profusion of palms decoratively placed for the big event. Anna Ri peers through the forest in her painting and the palm fronds.

Edith Orcutt Beaton 1905 at her the wedding of her sister Anna Ri Orcutt April 12, 1905.

Edith Orcutt Beaton at the wedding of her sister Anna Ri Orcutt April 12, 1905. Anna Ri’s portrait in the background.

Do you want to know what became of Anna Ri’s portrait?  I know my grandmother sold it to a friend in Omaha about 35 years ago.  At the time, no one in the family did genealogy and my grandmother couldn’t know that it would become a passion of mine. If anyone has any ideas about how to locate this painting, please contact me.

Are the frames medium or high end is a question I intend to resolve when I can analyze the portraits. If you have antique Victorian picture frames a helpful website to determine their composition and value is Northwest Renovation A Home Improvement Magazine.[8] Writing a blog about a heirloom always prompts me to re-evaluate the item and learn new details about its’ history.

© 2015 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.

 

 

[1] “Currier Museum Online Curriculum.” Currier Museum Online Curriculum. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2015. <http://curriculum.currier.org/portraiture/american_portraiture.html&gt;.
[2] Price, Nancy J. “Style Clues & Cues in Antique Photos.” SheKnows. N.p., 07 Apr. 2010. Web. 02 Dec. 2015. <http://www.sheknows.com/living/articles/814584/genealogy-research-dating-vintage-photographs-by-clothing-and-hairstyles-1&gt;.
[3] Taylor, Maureen Alice, and Maureen Alice. Taylor. Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries. Cincinnati: Family Tree, n.d. Print.
[4] “Women’s Clothing.” – 1900s. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2015. <http://www.uvm.edu/landscape/dating/clothing_and_hair/1900s_clothing_women.php&gt;.
[5] Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._L._Brandeis_and_Sons&gt;.
[6] “Measuring Worth – Results.” Measuring Worth – Results. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2015. <http://www.measuringworth.com/calculators/uscompare/relativevalue.php&gt;.
[7] “Currier Museum Online Curriculum.” Currier Museum Online Curriculum. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2015. <http://curriculum.currier.org/portraiture/american_portraiture.html&gt;.
[8] “Northwest Renovation Magazine.” Northwest Renovation Part One Taking Care of Your Antique Victorian Picture Frames Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2015. <http://nwrenovation.com/miscellaneous-articles/part-one-taking-care-of-your-victorian-frames/&gt;.

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.

 

 

Posted in Heirlooms, My Family Ancestry | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

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 passsed 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 treks 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 stuff 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 with 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.

 

 

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

FAMILY HEIRLOOMS – MASONIC MEDAL

THOMAS A. NICHOLS – MASONIC MEDAL

 

Thomas A. Nichols, Anthracite Lodge 285 W.H. Manufacturing, Jeweler, Pottsville, PA

Thomas A. Nichols, Masonic Jewel – Anthracite Lodge 285 W.H. Mortimer Manufacturing, Jeweler, Pottsville, PA

 

The NICHOLS family has just one other heirloom besides the Latin Bible noted in the preceding blog.  It’s a  Masonic Medal awarded to Thomas A. NICHOLS in 1882 by the Pennsylvania, Anthracite Lodge F&AM No 285, upon his completion of his term as Worshipful Master.

One of the first ancestors I wrote about two years ago was Thomas A. NICHOLS. His history interested me because of the Masonic Medal with his name inscribed on it. We had a medal with a name, but who was Thomas A. NICHOLS? What was the medal? It launched two years of in-depth research about a man whom I came to respect and admire.

I think he treasured the Masonic Medal and worked hard to earn it.  Why was it passed on to my 2x great-grandfather instead of one of his other children? Somewhere down the line the story was lost.  The medal passed from one generation to the next but even the man and his place in our family history was forgotten.

I am very happy to have recaptured some of Thomas’s history and that our family has a small memento to associate with him.   A detailed account about the Masonic Medal is in an earlier blog post. Another benefit to blogging about Thomas A. NICHOLS, are the connections made with other descendants who have shared information and photographs.

 

© 2016 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.

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Genealogy Sketch

Name: Thomas Ackley Nichols
Parents: Matthias Nichols and Sarah Ackley?
Spouse: Helena Knerr and Lillian Watson Bull
Children: John, Bertha, Charles and Mary, Florence, Howard

Relationship to Kendra: 3rd great- grandfather

  1. Thomas Ackley Nichols 1824-1895
  2. John Mathews Nichols 1857-1929
  3. Mabel Elvina Nichols Hyde 1888-1954
  4. John Frederick Hyde Jr. 1911-1980
  5. Jean Hyde Hopp Eichorn
  6. Kendra Hopp Schmidt
Posted in Heirlooms | Tagged | 1 Comment

Family Heirlooms -Latin Bible- 1581

FAMILY HEIRLOOMS

Thanks to the prompting of a fellow Genealogy Blogger, Jeanne Bryan Insalaco of Everyone Has a Story, a blogging theme for November is to write about our family heirlooms and share their origins and stories. Those of us who are fortunate to have family treasures may or may not know the provenance of each item. My first blog is about a treasure I find intriguing but it is an unsolved mystery.

LATIN BIBLE- DATE 1581

Latin Bible 1581- London England

Walk into any antique store and you will find it crammed with knickknacks, furniture, photo albums, portraits, toys, and clothing. Discarded and forgotten by family members such treasures wait for a new home. My brother-in-law calls it all “family junk” but my sister and I call them treasures. The story behind your family heirlooms adds another dimension and may save a piece from being consigned to an antique store or relegated to the dustbin when you are gone. Have you recorded the stories you’ve heard about inherited family heirlooms?

Latin Bible - 1581- London, England

Latin Bible – 1581- London, England

Latin Bible - inscribed by Benjamin Hale 1733

Latin Bible – inscribed by Benjamin Hale 1733

My family has an old Latin Bible, printed in London England in 1581, with editorial contributions by Immanuele Tremellio and Francisco Junio. The ownership signature is by Benjamin GALE, date 1733. Is the date a special occasion? If so, there is no indication what it is.  There are no other markings that show who earlier nor succeeding owners were. The Bible is probably Catholic since the Protestant Reformation had only occurred about 70 years before. There is a Latin inscription on the back cover that I haven’t deciphered, so if anyone reading this can translate,  a clue might be uncovered.

Latin Bible - 1581 - inscribed Benjamin Hale - 1733

Latin Bible – 1581 – inscribed Benjamin Hale – 1733

The “story” is that it came through the NICHOLS side of our family. They are one of my brick walls and can only be traced back to Matthias NICHOLS born about 1796 in Virginia, according to the 1850 census. I have found no other records for Matthias and his wife Sarah, other than the one census. More detail is found in a previous blog about his son Thomas Ackley Nichols.

Is there is a connection between the NICHOLS and GALE families? Was the Bible passed down from one generation to another? Did someone in the family acquire it from a friend or purchase it? My maternal grandmother, Anna Jane BEATON HYDE,  was the “keeper” of family heirlooms. Her mother had 4 siblings, two died before the age of 20, and two never had children. My grandmother only had one brother, who never married,  so she inherited many family heirlooms.  My maternal grandfather, John F. HYDE Jr.,  was an only child, and he too inherited his share from his father, John F. HYDE, and his mother, Mable NICHOLS HYDE. They both passed it all on to my mother, also an only child. I am the family historian and I relish solving these mysteries and making the connections.

The Bible intrigues me and we preserve it in our family in an archival box, but we know nothing about its’ origins. If you have any recommendations, please leave a message.

© 2015 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Matthias Nichols
Parents: unknown
Spouse: Sarah Ackley
Children: Thomas Ackley Nichols
Relationship to Kendra: 4x great-grandfather

  1. Matthias Nichols abt 1796-?
  2. Thomas Ackley Nichols 1824-1895
  3. John Mathews Nichols 1857-1929
  4. Mabel Nichols Hyde 1888-1954
  5. John Frederick Hyde 1911-1980
  6. Jean Hyde Hopp Eichorn
  7. Kendra Hopp Schmidt
Posted in Heirlooms, My Family Ancestry | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Brace of Burglars

Have you documented, photographed,  and insured your valuables?  Do you have an inventory of your treasures, old and new? If not, maybe you should reconsider. Aside from fire and natural disasters, theft is also a threat to your possessions and your peace of mind.

Last week I learned of a recent theft that effected my mother. She thought her neighborhood was safe from crime. I am sure her great-grandparents thought the same, and her 3x great-grandparents. One family line, all victims of a brace of burglars.

Case File #001

Incident Type                           BURGLARY

Address of Occurrence          TUCSON, ARIZONA

Type of Premise                       RESIDENCE

Occurred                                     WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12, 2015

Weapon or Objects used      WINDOW CUTTING DEVICE

Method of Entry                       UNLAWFUL          Burglary type     NIGHT (6 P.M.-6 A.M.)

Items Stolen                              ASSORTED JEWELRY

Victim                                           JEAN HYDE

Suspects                                      LOCAL TREE TRIMMER

While on a recent trip to a granddaughters wedding in Colorado, my mother’s house was burglarized and her complete jewelry collection stolen. My mother loves beautiful jewelry and had collected a cabinet full of treasures.  The pieces included valuable antiques inherited from her mother, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers.  According to the local police in Tucson, this was a professional job. The thieves left no fingerprints and used a glass cutter to gain access via a back window. They  quickly ransacked the house, tipping over furniture, emptying drawers and wreaking havoc. The most likely culprit is a local tree-trimmer hired by a neighbor. During a conversation, the “tree trimmer” thief learned that my mother was out-of-town, and that night the house burglars struck. The “tree trimmer” did not return to finish his work the next day. When the neighbor heard about the crime, she researched the name of the “tree trimmer” and found he had a rap sheet for previous burglaries. The value of the jewelry is more than monetary.Each piece holds a memory for my mother, especially the pieces she received as gifts and the ones she inherited. Unfortunately, the jewelry was not photographed nor inventoried, nor insured. If you are reading this, then please make sure you have your valuables documented.

CASE FILE #002

Incident Type                           BURGLARY

Address of Occurrence         550 S. 26th STREET, OMAHA, NEBRASKA 

Type of Premise                       RESIDENCE

Occurred                                     TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 1890

Weapon or Objects used      UNKNOWN

Method of Entry                       UNLAWFUL       Burglary type     NIGHT (6 P.M.-7 P.M.)

Victim                                           CLINTON DELOS ORCUTT/ANNA DUTTON ORCUTT

Items Stolen                              TWO WATCHES AND CHAINS, SEVERAL PAIRS OF                                                BRACELETS, A DIAMOND PIN, ASSORTED JEWELRY

Suspects                                       PROFESSIONAL BURGLARS

A portion of the stolen jewelry from case #001 were pieces my mother inherited from her great-grandmother, Anna Dutton Orcutt. Anna was also a victim of jewelry theft. I found a newspaper article dated February 13, 1890 on http://www.genealogybank.com that details the incident. Although I would like to reprint the entire article, the copyright laws do not allow for reproduction, nor complete transcription.  The article is titled, ” A NEAT BIT OF WORK, How Two Burglars Robbed Mr Orcutt’s Residence.”  A brace of burglars raided the jewelry in the house of Mr. Clinton Orcutt. [1]  Mr. Orcutt returned home about 7 p.m. and noticed that the gas light in his wife’s room was turned down, and thought nothing of it. His 11-year-old daughter Anna Ri had a playmate over and as they went upstairs they noticed the extinguished hall gas lights, but thought nothing of it. They simply went to the next level and turned on the electric buttons. Then the family  noticed that Mrs. Orcutt’s room was ransacked and left in a state of confusion. The thieves stole $600.00 worth of jewelry.  Today the jewelry value would be about $16,000.

The local police ascertained there were probably two thieves. They entered the occupied house through the rear door, hid in the rear hallway, slipped upstairs and  accomplished their task in about fifteen minutes.  While one stood watch,  the other hastily plundered the room tipping over furniture and emptying drawers. When they heard Mr. Orcutt driving up, they put out the main hall lights and exited by the front door. The burglars unfastened a window opening on the front porch,  but nearby police patrols deterred them from using that exit. Recent thefts in the neighborhood prompted local police to mount extra patrols. In fact, during the robbery a patrol was only half a block away.

It isn’t known if the police caught the culprits. The Orcutts resided in an upscale neighborhood and it is easy to understand why they were targeted. Clinton Orcutt was a fairly wealthy man, a business man and banker. Like his father, Daniel Orcutt, he was an ambitious man.

Clinton Orcutt’s  home depicted in Early History of Omaha-Omaha Illustrated. [2] He lived on 550 S. 26th Street, with his wife and four of his five children from 1887-1905.

Home of Clinton and Anna Dutton Orcutt. Photo taken 550 S. 26th Street, Omaha, Nebraska.

[3]

 CASE  FILE #003

Incident Type                           BURGLARY

Address of Occurrence         PARK STREET, GUILFORD, CONNECTICUT 

Type of Premise                       RESIDENCE

Occurred                                     WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 1837

Weapon or Objects used      UNKNOWN

Method of Entry                       UNLAWFUL       Burglary type     NIGHT (6 P.M.-6A.M.)

Victim                                           REVEREND AARON DUTTON/DORCAS DUTTON

Items Stolen                              6 SILVER TABLESPOONS, 3 TEA-SPOONS, 1 PAIR                                                    SUGAR TONGS MARKED D.S., 6 TEA-SPOONS, 1                                                      CREAM SPOON, 2 SALT SPOONS MARKED D.D., 5                                                  TEA-SPOONS MARKED S.W.S, 1 IVORY HANDLED                                                  SILVER BUTTER KNIFE, 1 PURPLE AND WHITE                                                      COTTON TABLE COVER

Suspects                                     UNKNOWN

Two days ago I discovered on genealogybank.com another theft of family valuables. [4] This time it effected Anna Dutton Orcutt’s grandparents, a decade before her birth. Anna’s grandfather was Reverend Aaron Dutton of Guilford, Connecticut. He was an esteemed clergyman and highly respected in his community. He lived in Guilford with his wife and 7 children.

On the night of September 20, 1837 his house was broken into and the family silver stolen. Several of those pieces his wife inherited from her parents. The spoons marked S.W.S. were from Dorcas Dutton’s father, Samuel William Southmayd. the spoons marked D.S. were from her mother, Dorcas Southmayd. It was a great loss to the family. Aaron Dutton promptly posted an advertisement in the local paper, The Connecticut Herald, New Haven, requesting information. He offered a generous reward for the recovery of his stolen silver. It isn’t known if he was successful.

Home of Reverend Aaron Dutton and Dorcas Southmayd Dutton, Guilford, Connecticut

Home of Reverend Aaron Dutton and Dorcas Southmayd Dutton, Guilford, Connecticut

[5]

The lesson from this journey into the past is that we are all vulnerable. However,  you can take steps today to ensure the safety of your treasured family heirlooms. If you haven’t documented them, photographed them, or insured them, start now.

© 2015 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.

Genealogy Sketch 1

Name: Reverend Aaron DUTTON
Parents:   Thomas DUTTON and
Anna ROYCE
Spouse: Dorcas SOUTHMAYD
Children: Mary DUTTON, Dorcas Southmayd DUTTON, Thomas DUTTON, Samuel William Southmayd DUTTON, Aaron Rice DUTTON, John Southmayd DUTTON, Anna DUTTON, Matthew Henry DUTTON
Relationship to Kendra:

  1. Reverend Aaron DUTTON 1780-1849
  2. Thomas DUTTON 1812-1885
  3. Anna Dorcas DUTTON 1841-1899
  4. Edith Marion ORCUTT 1879-1964
  5. Anna Jane BEATON  1907-1998
  6. Jean Ann HYDE
  7. Kendra HOPP SCHMIDT

Genealogy Sketch 2

Name: Anna Dorcas DUTTON
Parents: THOMAS DUTTON and
Sarah Maria WHITING
Spouse: Clinton Delos ORCUTT
Children: Louis DeForest ORCUTT, George Dutton ORCUTT, Edith Marion ORCUTT, Anna Ri ORCUTT, Jane Clare ORCUTT
Relationship to Kendra: Third great-grandmother

  1. Anna Dorcas DUTTON  1841-1899
  2. Edith Marion ORCUTT  1879-1964
  3. Anna Jane BEATON  1907-1998
  4. Jean Ann HYDE
  5. Kendra HOPP SCHMIDT
  1. Omaha World Herald (Omaha, NE)
    Date: Thursday, February 13, 1890  Volume: XXV Issue: 135 Page: 5  www.genealogybank.com
    2.Omaha Illustrated- Early History of Omaha.http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ne/topic/resources/OLLibrary/Omaha_book/omaha003.htm
    3.Clinton Delos Orcutt (1840-1905) Home at 550 S. 26th Street, Omaha, Nebraska. Photo taken 1904. Digital image, photocopy of original, scanned in 2011 by Kendra Schmidt, privately held by Karen Kenagy. Photo depicts the home of Clinton Orcutt on the occasion of his the society debut of his daughter Jane Clare Orcutt.
    4. Conncecticut Herald (New Haven, CT) Date: Tuesday, October 10, 1837, Volume: XXXV Issue:41 Page:4. http://www.genealogybank.com
    5.Reverend Aaron Dutton (1780-1849) Home at Park Street, Guilford, Connecticut. Photo taken 2011. Digital image, photocopy of original taken by Kendra Schmidt. Privately held by Kendra Schmidt. Photo depicts the home of Reverand Aaron Dutton and his wife Dorcas Dutton as it existed in 2011.
Posted in My Family Ancestry | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

THE WESTWARD TREK – DANIEL ORCUTT – PART III

 Ten years ago I knew nothing about Daniel Heath Orcutt, my maternal 3x great-grandfather.  Research revealed an American Pioneer and adventurer. Putting his life in historical context gives his story much more depth than merely reciting dates and names. I hope my family and readers gain an appreciation for the difficult lives and journeys of the ancestors featured in my blogs.

LAND AND OPPORTUNITY

Land, opportunity, and adventure enticed many residents of New England and the Mid-Atlantic states  to leave their homes and head west in early 19th century. Daniel Heath Orcutt was no exception. Viable farmland in New York was more expensive and limited than in western states and territories. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 facilitated travel to the west. Daniel seized the right time and circumstances to build a new life for himself and his family in Illinois. He was a man who yearned for change his entire life and found it difficult to settle down in one place.

Daniel Orcutt - The Trek West from Lake Pleasant N.Y. via Erie Canal, Great Lakes to Naperville, IL. Image courtesy of Googe Earth

Daniel Orcutt – The Trek West from Lake Pleasant N.Y. via Erie Canal, Great Lakes to Naperville, IL. Image courtesy of Googe Earth

In 1831, at age 22,  Daniel Heath Orcutt was single and lived in Lake Pleasant, Hamilton County, New York. He married Angeline Perkins in 1833 and a year later they had their first child, Ann Maria. By January 31, 1836, a son joined the family, Nelson Orcutt. In that same year, 27 year-old Daniel and 23 year-old Angeline Orcutt headed west.[1] The decision to leave their families and all that was familiar to them would have elicited mixed emotions. There was the thrill of an adventure and the fear of the unknown. They might never see their families again and they didn’t know what difficulties awaited them.  The History of Du Page County describes the first pioneers of Illinois:

“It was a serious matter – a trip in those days. The present magnificent postal system was entirely undeveloped and no railroads bisected the country. If they severed connections with the old home, there was really little prospect of their seeing their relatives for years if ever. What courage and devotion combined with absolute love, those pioneer brides must have possessed!”[2]

A description of Hamilton County in the 1837 Gazetteer of the State of New York  provides insight why Daniel probably didn’t want to farm in his hometown.  “A wild and sterile desert, with an occasional oasis, of tolerable fertility.”[3]  Not only did the Lake Pleasant area offer little arable land, but also the general population was growing. The Federal Census of New York for 1830 showed a 40% increase in population from 1820, for a total of 1,918,608.  By 1835, the population was 2,174,517.[4] The average cost for an acre of land in New York was $12.49 in 1835.[5]  Daniel Orcutt needed space to farm and Illinois had just acquired federal lands appropriated from native Americans. In 1833, the Treaty of Chicago permitted the United States acquisition and settlement of the last remaining Indian lands in Illinois.[6] The United States government enticed settlers to the west by offering cheap land. Federal land sold for $1.25 per acre; it was also tax exempt for five years after purchase.[7] At those prices, the Orcutt’s could buy a farm and establish a future for themselves. Did they consider the tribes who lost their lands?

There were several sources where Daniel could learn about the new lands. Gazetteers published positive reviews of the territories and new states. J. M. Peck’s New York Gazetteer for 1834 claimed, “No state in the “Great West” has attracted so much attention, and elicited so many enquiries from those who desire to avail themselves of the advantages of a settlement in a new and rising country, as that of Illinois; and none is filling up so rapidly with an emigrating population from all parts of the United States, and several kingdoms of Europe.” [8]

Maybe Daniel H. Orcutt read Pecks “New Guide for Emigrants to the West.”[9] The guidebooks offer suggestions for both the emigrant as well as the traveler. J.M. Peck prided himself on his personal knowledge of the settlements in Illinois and Missouri, as well as other western areas. He spoke as an authority on Illinois and his guidebook extolled the virtual paradise that awaited the newcomer. How could Daniel resist such glowing reports of what awaited him in the west?

“These [river] bottoms, especially the American are the best regions in the United States for raising stock, particularly horses, cattle, and swine. Seventy-five bushels of corn to the acre is an ordinary crop. The roots and worms of the soil, the acorns and other fruits from the trees, and the fish of the lakes accelerate the growth of swine. Horses and cattle find exhaustless supplies of grass in the prairies; and pea vines, buffalo grass, wild oats, and other herbage in the timber, for summer range; and often throughout most of the winter.”[10]

Lists of flora and fauna are detailed and if there is a deficiency in one area, a positive comment offers a resolution. “In general, Illinois is abundantly supplied with timber and were it equally distributed through the State, there would be no want. The apparent scarcity of timber where the prairie predominates is not so great an obstacle to the settlement of the country as has been supposed. For many of the purposes to which timber is applied, substitutes are found.”[11]

Peach and apple trees did so well in the Illinois climate that the author recounted “I have measured apples, the growth of St. Clair County, that exceeded thirteen inches in circumference.”[12] Cider making possibilities, for those who couldn’t dispense without it, awaited the patient farmer. Or, if your preference was wine, then the abundant wild grapes offered an alternative libation. “The indigenous vines are prolific and produce excellent fruit. They are found in every thicket in the prairies and barrens, and climbing to the tops of the very highest trees on the bottoms,” …”The editor of the Illinois Magazine remarks, ‘We know one gentleman who made twenty-seven barrels of wine in a single season, from the grapes gathered with but little labor, in his immediate neighborhood.”[13] The descriptions are so positive that the reader in the east would have felt compelled to catch the next boat.

Peck’s description of garden vegetables again offered advantages as well as disadvantages compared to other climates, but the positives were always greater. “Garden Vegetables can be produced here in vast profusion, and of excellent quality…Our Irish potatoes, pumpkins, and squashes are inferior, but not our cabbages, peas, beets or onions. A cabbage head, two or tree feet in diameter including the leaves, is no wonder on this soil. Beets often exceed twelve inches in circumference. Parsnips will penetrate our light, porous soil, to the depth of two or three feet.” [14]

Daniel was a farmer and Peck’s accounts of crop yields would have been hard to resist. Corn crops produced fifty bushels to the acre, and in some cases 75-100 bushels! Wheat is listed as a “good and sure crop”. It weighed “upwards of 60 pounds per bushel, and flour from this region has preference in the New Orleans market and passes better inspection than the same article from Ohio or Kentucky.”[15] How could any prospective farmer resist the abundant harvest and bright future proposed in Peck’s guide book and his Gazetteer?

If the productive land didn’t sell the reader on their  future, then there were other enticements such as improved health. Daniel suffered from asthma and his obituary stated he left New York for the West to improve his health. The “New Guide for Emigrants to the West” noted the “medicinal waters” found in different parts of Illinois. [16]  Peck’s Illinois Gazetteer describes “diseases” as follows:

“Diseases. The more common diseases of Illinois are intermittents, [illness marked by episodes of fever] frequently accompanied with bilious symptoms [jaundiced associated with  liver disease]. Those which prove fatal in sickly seasons are bilious remittents. More than one-half of the sickness endured by the people is caused by imprudence, bad management, and the want of proper nursing….Families are seldom sick who live in comfortable houses with tight floors and well ventilated rooms, and who upon a change of weather, and especially in a time of rain, make a little fire in the chimney, though it may be the midst of summer. I have seen but few cases of genuine consumption. Affection of the liver is more common. …Fewer die in infancy than in the old states. Finally, I am prepared to speak decidedly in favor the general health of Illinois.”[17]The lure was difficult to resist and the Orcutt’s succumbed to it as did thousands of other settlers.

TRAVEL TO THE WEST

How did the Orcutt’s travel from Hamilton County, New York to Naperville, Illinois in 1836? Fortunately for them and many other travelers, the Erie Canal opened in 1825. Then Governor Dewitt Clinton championed the project from the onset and pushed through legislation for funding. Although referred to as “Clinton’s Big Ditch” and  dubbed “Clinton’s Folly”, it was a success. [18] It was a new route to the expanding West. “The canal’s opening ignited the first western great migration. Thousands of settlers skirted the natural barrier of the Allegheny Mountains and moved to the fertile lands of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and beyond.” Think of it as “America’s First Super Highway” as it cut the travel time from the Hudson River to the Great Lakes in half. A traveler avoided the rough ride in a stagecoach on a rutted, muddy road and saved time.[19]

It is intriguing to envision the experience that Daniel and Angeline might have had on a  line boat as they traveled from New York to Illinois. First, they had to travel about 50 miles from Lake Pleasant to the nearest access to the Erie Canal at Little Falls.

Little Falls, NY - 1852, From: Meyer's universum, edited by Charles A. Dana, NY. Picture courtesy of  The    Erie Canal/www.eriecanal.org

Little Falls, NY – 1852, From: Meyer’s universum, edited by Charles A. Dana, NY. Picture courtesy of The Erie Canal/www.eriecanal.org

Upon arrival, they probably boarded a working boat (or “line boat”) which carried both freight and people. Many emigrants headed west used these boats to transport themselves and their goods.

The freight these boats carried was usually lumber, gravel, or agricultural products going east, and manufactured products (stoves, nails, cloth, etc.) going west.[20]    The line boat cost 2 cents per mile, and sometimes one cent. The lower price reflected the accommodations and were less comfortable. The usual speed of the boat was about 4 miles per hour.[21]It was 276 miles from Little Falls to Buffalo New York. Once the family arrived in Buffalo, they probably transferred to a lake boat. A Chicago pioneer, J.M. Hannahs, described his trip to Chicago in 1836.

“At Buffalo we went on board the steamboat Oliver Newberry for Detroit. Steamboats in those days only ran through to Chicago about once in three weeks. At Detroit, we took passage on the schooner Edward Bancroft, which proceeded to Black River, now Port Huron, and there loaded with lumber for Chicago. On the Canada side of the River above Detroit were many windmills, and above Lake Clair, on the same side, for many miles were little log houses of uniform construction, which were built by the British Government for their Indian friends. From Port Huron, we ran through stormy Lake Huron and anchored at Mackinaw. On the high bluffs stood the fort, manned by soldiers, and there were various missionary stations, and hundreds of Indians having a fleet of beautiful bark canoes, which, together with the wild scenery on the island beyond the fort, were objects of great interest. Those bark canoes were an important part of navigation in those days on the Great Lakes. From Mackinaw through the straits to the eastern shore of the territory of Wisconsin we coasted along for hundred of miles in full view of the dark, uninhabited and forbidding forests of that now great State, until we came within about 100 miles of Chicago, where we found ourselves scudding before a northeast gale with a heavy sea, which pursued us into Chicago; or rather, to the bar at the end of the piers, which were then under construction, and where we stuck fast. We were nineteen days on the passage to Chicago.”[22] The increasing number of emigrants to Illinois and Wisconsin eventually led to a daily line between Buffalo and Chicago, but when the Orcutts traveled in 1836, they were still infrequent.

If the Orcutt’s managed to get a direct lake steamboat from Buffalo to Chicago, their trip would have been much shorter. The Illinois Gazetteer lists travel from “New York to Buffalo, 5 days. From Buffalo to Chicago, by steamboats fitted for lake navigation, 8 days.”[23] The last 35 miles to Naperville would have taken 2 days by horse and wagon. I wondered, did they purchased these items once they made it to Chicago? How much did they transport with them on their journey? They traveled with a baby and a toddler; were they accompanied by a family member or friend? Did they know someone in the Naperville area? The 1840 census for Du Page county lists a Stephen Perkins living not far from Daniel and Angeline Orcutt. Angeline’s maiden name was Perkins, but I haven’t been able to prove a connection to  Stephen.

NAPERVILLE, DUPAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS

When Daniel and Angeline Orcutt arrived in Naperville in 1836, it was sparsely populated. Chicago, 35 miles distant, was just a small town. According to the 1834 Gazetteer of Illinois, Chicago contained “three houses for public worship, an academy, an infant and other schools, twenty-five or thirty stores, many of them doing large business, several taverns, mechanics of various kinds, a printing office, which published the ‘Chicago Democrat,’ and ten or twelve hundred inhabitants.”[24] By 1836, Chicago had grown to a population of 3,280 and is still noted as a “village” in the “History of Du Page County”.[25]

What did Naperville offer the new immigrant? It offered land at $1.25 per acre under the Pre-Emption Act of 1834. One of the original settlers, whom Naperville was named for,  Captain Joseph Naper, claimed 160 acres for just $200.[26]. Daniel Orcutt also took advantage of the inexpensive land and purchased 320 acres for $400. Although Daniel arrived in Naperville in 1836 he didn’t purchase his land until January 14th, 1843.[27]    His neighbors didn’t buy their land either until after 1841. Were they “squatters” who farmed the land until compelled to buy?  The Preemption Act of 1841 “permitted “squatters” who lived on federal land to buy it for the low price of $1.25 per acre before it was offered for sale to the general public. There were stipulations the “squatter” had to meet and Daniel fulfilled those. He was a head of household, a citizen, and  had resided on the land for at least 14 months.[29] The Illinois land tract books show that Daniel Orcutt claimed the land on January 14, 1843. He obtained a title to the land on May 1, 1845.

Manifest Destiny resulted from the Preemption Act of 1841[30] and Daniel Orcutt typifies the “American Pioneer” who settled the expanding American West. He took advantage of the opportunities offered to improve his circumstances.

Just out of curiosity, I looked up  the value of  land in the Naperville area today. Those 320 acres would be worth over $96,000,000 based on current land values in the Naperville area![28] The farm is now a residential area outside of Chicago.

Daniel Orcutt - Google earth map of his property today. Image courtesy of Google Earth

Daniel Orcutt – Google earth map of his property today. Image courtesy of Google Earth

On December 12, 1837, Angeline gave birth to their third child, Henry Orcutt.  A fourth child, Clinton Delos Orcutt, joined the family on November 3, 1840. I often wondered about the origins of his name, but after reading about Governor Clinton of New York, I surmised that Daniel Orcutt named his son in honor of him. The Governor promoted building the Erie Canal, which made it possible for Daniel Orcutt to achieve one of his dreams, to obtain land in the west.  A fifth and last child, Jennie Martha, was born on February 28, 1844.

The farm purchase was just the first step to productivity. Peck’s Guide for Emigrants outlines the additional costs incurred by the farmer.

  • “Cost of 320 acres at $1.25 per acre…………………….$400
  •  Breaking up 160 acres prairie, $2 per acre………….$320
  •  Fencing it into four fields with a Kentucky fence of eight rails high, with cross stakes…………..$175
  • Add cost of cabins, corn-cribs, stable, & c. …………..$250
  • Making the cost of the farm [total cost]………………………………$1145″

A single crop of wheat could pay for these costs if the harvest were a good one. [31] When the Orcutt’s arrived in  Naperville in 1836, it  had four stores, a saw and grist mill, a school, twenty-five families, and just 250 inhabitants.[32] Nearby Chicago  was the largest commercial town in Illinois in 1836 and offered markets for the nearby farmers to sell their grain. Since there was no railroad at the time, the farmers hauled their crops by horse and wagon.

Daniel Orcutt - Illinois land purchased 1845. Maps provided with permission from HistoryGeo.com. Copyright 2015, Arphax Publishing Co.

Daniel Orcutt – Illinois land purchased 1845. Maps provided with permission from HistoryGeo.com.
Copyright 2015, Arphax Publishing Co.

Daniel Orcutt - location of his farm in Du Page county. Maps provided with permission from HistoryGeo.com. Copyright 2015, Arphax Publishing Co.

Daniel Orcutt –  farm location in Du Page county. Maps provided with permission from HistoryGeo.com.
Copyright 2015, Arphax Publishing Co.

Daniel H. Orcutt toiled on his farm for 14 years. He plowed the furrows for his crops, planted the seeds, toiled in the fields in all kinds of weather, hoped for a good harvest, year after year. Daniel traded in his farm tools for mining tools with the discovery of gold in California. In 1848 gold was found in the Sacramento Valley; it sparked the Gold Rush. For more than a year, Daniel might have read  repeated newspaper headlines,  with such phrases as “from the gold regions,” and “Ho for the gold regions” and “California gold.” [33] Wanderlust, adventure, and fortune beckoned again. In the spring of 1850 Daniel heeded the call. He left his wife and five children, ages 6-16, in search of  a new opportunity. Would he find gold or was it an ill-fated quest?

© 2015 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.


[1] Bateman, Newton, ed., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Du Page County, (Chicago, IL:Munsell Publishing Company, 1913), 625; digital images, Google Books (http://www.Google.com/books: accessed 10 February 2015).

[2] Blanchard, Rufus, History of Du Page County Illinois, (Chicago, IL:O.L. Baskin & Co., Historical Publishers, 1882), 632; digital images, Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org:  accessed 17 March 2015).

[3] Gordon, Thomas F. Gazetteer of the State of New York comprehending its Colonial History; General Geography, Geology, and Internal Improvements; Its Political State; A Minute Description of its Several Counties, Towns, and Villages; Statistical Tables, with a Map of the State, And a Map of Each County, (Philadelphia: T.M. and F.G. Collins, Printers, 1836), 476; digital images, Google Books (http://www.Google.com/books: accessed 10 March 2015).

[4]  New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer. New York: New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, 2014.

[5] Wallis, John Joseph; Sylla, Richard E.; Grinath, Arthur Land, Debt, and Taxes: Origins of the U.S. State Default Crisis, 1839-1842; pdf,   https://www.frbatlanta.org/documents/cenfis/…/11sov_debt_Wallis.pdf

[6] http://history.illinoisgenweb.org/timeline.html

[7] Peck, J.M. A New Guide for Emigrants to the West Containing Sketches of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, with the Territories of Wisconsin and Arkansas, and the Adjacent Parts.(Boston: Gould, Kendall & Lincoln, 1836), 141-143;  digital images, Google Books (http://www.Google.com/books : accessed 9 March 2015)

[8] Peck, J.M. Gazetteer of Illinois in Three Parts: Containing a General View of the State, a General View of Each County: and a Particular Description of Each Town, Settlement, Stream, Prairie, Bottom, Bluff, Etc. – Alphabetically Arranged, (Jacksonville: R. Goudy, Printers, 1834), Introduction; digital images, Google Books (http://Google.com/books: accessed 9 March 2015).

[9] Peck, J.M. A New Guide for Emigrants to the West Containing Sketches of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, with the Territories of Wisconsin and Arkansas, and the Adjacent Parts.(Boston: Gould, Kendall & Lincoln, 1836), 141-143;  digital images, Google Books (http://www.Google.com/books : accessed 9 March 2015)

[10] Ibid, p. 257

[11] Ibit p. 262

[12] Ibid p. 273

[13] Ibid p. 272

[14] Ibid p. 274

[15] Ibid p. 274-275

[16] Ibid p. 271

[17] Peck, J.M. A New Guide for Emigrants to the West Containing Sketches of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, with the Territories of Wisconsin and Arkansas, and the Adjacent Parts.(Boston: Gould, Kendall & Lincoln, 1836), 44-45;  digital images, Google Books (http://www.Google.com/books : accessed 9 March 2015)

[18] Eye Witness to History. Web. 21 March 2015.   http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/eriecanal.htm

[19] Ibid

[20] Erie Canal. Web. 22 March 2015.    http://www.eriecanal.org/boats-2.html

[21] Ibid

[22] Maritime History of the Great Lakes. Web. 20 March 2015.  http://www.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca/documents/hgl/default.asp?ID=s029

[23] Peck, J.M. A New Guide for Emigrants to the West Containing Sketches of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, with the Territories of Wisconsin and Arkansas, and the Adjacent Parts.(Boston: Gould, Kendall & Lincoln, 1836), 58;  digital images, Google Books (http://www.Google.com/books : accessed 9 March 2015)

[24] Peck, J.M. Gazetteer of Illinois in Three Parts: Containing a General View of the State, a General View of Each County: and a Particular Description of Each Town, Settlement, Stream, Prairie, Bottom, Bluff, Etc. – Alphabetically Arranged, (Jacksonville: R. Goudy, Printers, 1834), Introduction; digital images, Google Books (http://Google.com/books: accessed 9 March 2015).

[25] Blanchard, Rufus, History of Du Page County Illinois, (Chicago, IL:O.L. Baskin & Co., Historical Publishers, 1882), 151; digital images, Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org:  accessed 17 March 2015).

[26] Naper Settlement, http://www.napersettlement.org/index.aspx?nid=184

[27] United States Bureau of Land Management Tract Books, 1820-1908,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32470-15178-90?cc=2074276&wc=M771-JM9:356162801,356168201 : accessed 25 March 2015), Illinois > Vol 6 (Chicago) > image 39 of 201; Records Improvement, Bureau of Land Management, Washington D.C.

[28]Web. 25 March 2015.  http://www.landandfarm.com/search/IL/Naperville-land-for-sale/

[29]“Premption Act of 1841”.  Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. Web. 20 March 2015.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preemption_Act_of_1841

[30] “Manifest Destiny”. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. Web. 20 March 2015.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manifest_destiny

[31] Peck, J.M. A New Guide for Emigrants to the West Containing Sketches of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, with the Territories of Wisconsin and Arkansas, and the Adjacent Parts.(Boston: Gould, Kendall & Lincoln, 1836), 313;  digital images, Google Books (http://www.Google.com/books : accessed 9 March 2015)

[32] Peck, J.M. A Gazetteer of Illinois, in Three Parts: containing a General View of the State, A General View of Each County, and a Particular Description of Each Town, Settlement, Stream, Prairie, Bottom, Bluff, Etc; Alphabetically Arranged.  (Philadelphia: Grigg & Elliot, 1837),  259: digital images, Google Books (http://Google.com/books : accessed 25 March 2015)

[33] Unruh, John D. Jr. The Plains Across The Overland Emigrants and The Trans-Mississippi West 1840-60. (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1993), 62.


Genealogy Sketch

Name: Daniel ORCUTT
Parents: John ORCUTT and
Philinda HEATH
Spouse: Angeline PERKINS
Children: Ann Maria, Nelson, Henry, Clinton, Jennie Martha
Relationship to Kendra: 3rd great-grandfather

  1. Daniel ORCUTT
  2. Clinton Delos ORCUTT
  3. Edith ORCUTT BEATON UTENDORFER
  4. Anna Jane BEATON HYDE
  5. Jean Ann Marie HYDE HOPP EICHORN
  6. Kendra HOPP SCHMIDT

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