Tag Archives: William M. Stout

Great Aunt Maude Bartlett Entertains the Queen

Aunt Maude contained a universe of contradictions. By turns, I saw her as irritating, fascinating or admirable. My great-Aunt Mary Emeline Stout (Bartlett), known as Maude Bartlett (1875-1963), is the sister of  Grandmother Vera and her brother Will (William Morgan) Stout.

Maude Bartlett (Stout) and brother

Will M. Stout and Mary (Maude) Stout. Picture taken in May 23,1881, the day Vera May Stout (my grandmother) was born.

This is a rather rare photo from my collection, since it is a hand-painted tintype.  I really don’t think that Will and Maude’s hair was blonde, and I suspect the dog may have been added by the photographer. But I just love Maude’s dress and high button shoes, and her sour apple expression. And I can’t help wonder, since their mother was in labor–in the house they lived in–who got them all dressed up like that and took them to the photographer? Their grandmother, Mary Bassett Platt Morgan (1810-1890) would have still been around. I’d like to think it was her.

I try to avoid drawing too many conclusions from photographs that have been sitting in a drawer for 100 years or so. Were all our ancestors sour pusses? No, they had to stay very still because camera exposures were long. Were they fashion plates who never let their hair down? No, getting your photograph taken was a BIG DEAL and you got dressed up for it.  Nobody was snapping pictures of partying at the bar with friends–not that respectable women would be at a bar anyhow–and what was the point? There wasn’t a Facebook or Instagram where you could share your every moment.

But now I confess that I am straying from my resolve in psychoanalyzing this picture of ancestors.

Stout Family Home in Killbuck, Ohio

Dr. William Stout and family in front of family home, circa 1885

Here we have my great-grandfather Dr. William C. Stout, my grandmother, Vera Stout (Anderson), my great-uncle William Morgan Stout, my great-aunt Maude Stout (Bartlett) and my great-grandmother Harriette Morgan Stout sitting in the yet-unpaved street in front of their family home in Killbuck, Ohio toward the end of the 19th century. Perhaps an itinerant photographer came to town and set up those wooded chairs and told them how to stand and sit. Perhaps there were other versions that didn’t turn out well, and so we’ll only see this arrangement.

And yet…it is so right to have my grandmother standing close to–touching, even–her father, while her sister, Maude is packed tightly up against their mother. And brother Will is abandoned out there all alone. My mother always said that “Grandma Stout” favored “Aunt Maude”.

And no wonder, Aunt Maude was the perfect daughter for her time. Intelligent, dedicated to domestic arts, neat and proper. She played the piano, read poetry and loved the finer things in life. Vera Stout Anderson, on the other hand, was very smart but not a bookworm.  She was of a practical turn of mind and had what we would call “street smarts.”

Her marriage took place at 23 years old to Carlos Edwin Bartlett. He is listed in the census as a “traveling salesman” when they married and lived in Killbuck. By 1904, Carlos and Maude lived at 346 Fargo Avenue, Buffalo New York–if the Google map image is the same house, which it very well could be–it looks like an apartment house.

By 1910, they had purchased a house at 15 Robie Avenue (now Robie Street) in Buffalo. Carlos had become a Travel Passenger Agent with the NYC and St. Louis Railroad. There she gardened, joined literary societies and entertained.

Maude Bartlett in Buffalo

Maude Bartlett in garden of her Buffalo Home

I have a set of journals of a Shakespeare society she belonged to, and she was always a great reader until her eyesight failed her in old age. As a teenager, I was called upon to read books to her, a task I found excruciatingly boring. How I wish I had taken advantage of the time with the somewhat stiff old lady to ask her about some of her exciting days in Buffalo. My mother told me that one of Aunt Maude Bartlett’s proudest moments was when she hosted a tea to entertain the Queen of the Netherlands who was visiting Buffalo. She apparently enjoyed not only entertaining, but decorating and dressing up. Here’s a rather fuzzy picture of a tea party to celebrate George Washington’s Birthday.

Maude Bartlett --tea party

Maude Stout Bartlett in Colonial costume for tea party

Maude Bartlett with family

Aunt Maude’s caption on this picture: “Mother, Fred, Louise and Mary–Carlos, his father and me–July 4, 1915–our Dodge”

This photo, with Maude’s mother Harriette Morgan Stout on the far left (my great-grandmother), includes three people I cannot identify, despite the first names. I’m assuming they are Carlos Bartlett’s relatives. And I do not know Carlos’ father’s name. I notice that the women in this picture are dressed very conservatively in full-length dresses although hemlines were rising above ankles by 1915. This was taken at their home at 16 Robie Avenue. She dated the picture July 4, 1915, and underlined “our Dodge”–obviously a proud new possession.

Maude and Carlos’ home was (and is) near the Delaware Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. The neighborhood is still well-kept and the homes have changed very little. You can see a street view by going to Google Maps and looking for 16 Robie Street, Buffalo NY.

It came as quite a shock to me to check dates in the family Bible and learn that “dear Carlos” as she always referred to him, died 15 days after this picture was taken, at the age of 42. They had been married just 17 years and had no children. She stayed in Buffalo alone for several years, probably living off  a decent pension from the railroad. But railroads fell on hard times, and her stock became worthless. Maude went back to Killbuck, Ohio at the end of the 1940’s, first living in an apartment in the old family home that had become my Grandmother’s house, and later buying a house on the other side of Killbuck.

Maude Bartlett at Stout-Anderson house, Killbuck (c.1952)

Maude Bartlett at Stout-Anderson house, Killbuck (c.1952)

One of the things I can’t help noticing in this photograph is how much the grand old Victorian House has changed in its first 60 or so years. (Compare to the family portrait nearer the top of this page).  All the Victorian scroll work and fanciness is gone, a utilitarian closed porch with storm windows substitutes for the open porch you see earlier, and the paint is a utilitarian all white instead of having colorful trim.

Aunt Maude looks quite sweet in this picture, belying some of the favorite family stories about her. She and grandmother Vera fought like cats and dogs. They never agreed on anything, and it probably was a good thing that they had lived nearly 20 years two states apart.  But after Aunt Maude moved to the other end of town, she and Grandma called each other at least once a day to check up on the other one.

Aunt Maude had lovely old antique furniture, including glass cases displaying delicate china and other treasurers. But when I visited as a teen and young adult, I was only impressed (negatively) by her rigid sense of propriety.  She cared deeply about every one of her possessions, and wanted to assure that they would be well taken care of when she was gone.  She spent the last twenty years of her life labeling every piece of china and every stick of china with notes like “This sofa is to go to Harriette [my mother]. Feet have never touched it.” or “This is for Paula [my sister]”

When Aunt Maude passed away in 1963, I received, among other things, this silver holloware coffee service, what was left of a set of delicate, translucent, porcelain teacups, and a set of heavy linen napkins with a “B” for Bartlett (and for Badertscher). For those who care about such things: The porcelain is a German Eglantine by Hermann Ohme manufactured between 1882 and 1928, and the silver coffee pot set is by Reed and Barton, pattern Sierra, manufactured between 1905-1930 .

Maude Bartlett's tea service

Aunt Maude’s tea service with Reed and Barton Pewter tea set, Hermann Ohme German porcelain cups and plates, and linen napkins

Look again at the picture of Aunt Maude in her Colonial costume above. In the background, you can see the silhouette of the silver coffee pot. And by the way, the tea and coffee sets are sitting on a Queen Anne table in my living room that belonged to my great-grandmother Stout.  Just think, if I invite you to tea, I may be serving you from the very same set that served the Queen of the Netherlands.

In retrospect, I realize how reduced Maude’s life when she had to leave the cultural stimulation of her life in Buffalo, and how lonely and out of her element she must have felt.  Since I do not intend to give a formal tea party for the Queen of anything, I remember her even more for her driving intellectual curiosity. How, when she was over eighty, she said to me one day out of the blue, “I just realized that I can only name five of the Supreme Court Justices. That is terrible.  I must look them up.” (Note: Aunt Maud did not have Google.)

Have you served tea lately? And how many Supreme Court Justices can you name?

Ancestor Tracking: Grandma Vera’s Lost Love

Ancestor Tracking

Vera Anderson (circa 1960)

Vera Anderson (circa 1960)

Once when I was in high school, I was sitting on Grandma Vera’s glassed-in front porch in Killbuck Ohio, watching the town go by, when a tall, lean old man came walking down the alleyway between her house and the next one.

Grandma watched him and said quietly, “That’s the man I should have married.”  What a shock! Not just that there was a lost love in her life, but that she had a wistful tone. Grandma was not generally wistful.

Sometimes ancestor tracking leads to facts like dates and places. Sometimes it leads to puzzles about the facts.

Me and a boyfriend.

Me with a boyfriend, 1952

  1.  I was a teenager and therefore sure that my Grandmother didn’t understand love, let alone have a lost love.
  2.   Why had I never heard this story before? After all, the man obviously lived in the same town that she had lived in for most of her 70-some years.
  3.  I took this rather personally. “How dare she! If she had married that man, I wouldn’t exist!”, I thought.

Just like Great Uncle Bill Stout who I talked about last week when I was ancestor tracking– his sister, Vera Stout (1881-1964), also got in trouble with their father,Dr. William C. Stout(1845-1910).

Vera Anderson 1899

Vera Anderson 1899, the year she graduated from Killbuck High School

It happened after she graduated from high school. In May 1899, Vera had turned 18.

Dr. Stout and his wife “Hattie” Morgan Stout were great believers in education. “Hattie” had been a teacher and most of Dr. Stout’s brothers had advanced education.  Therefore they were active in insisting that a high school be established in Killbuck, and the first graduating class consisted of one girl, Vera May Stout, and one boy, Otto Welker.

By the time she graduated, she had fallen for a young man of the village of Killbuck and assumed that she would marry him.  However, the young man had a reputation of drinking a bit too much, and when her father, “Doc” Stout, learned about Vera’s intentions, he put his foot down.

He had already shown that he would not put up with someone who imbibed, having refused to pay for (Great Uncle Bill) William Morgan Stout’s attendance at law school because he thought his son was partying too much. When it came to Vera, his answer once again was to send his “straying” child away to school. By 1899, he had accepted William Stout’s success in New York, and decided Vera should go to New York City to stay with her brother and go to secretarial school.

She must have had very mixed feelings, since she adored her older brother, and loved to boldly seek new adventures, but she certainly did not want to leave the love of her life. On the other hand, her older sister Mary E. Stout (known as Maude, 1875-1963) had married Carlos Bartlett the year before. So staying in Killbuck would mean Vera would have to put up with their strict father and the constant comparisons to Maude, who had married a decent young man who was a lawyer for the railroads.

The complexities of family life included the fact that Vera was always questioning authority and Maude was the “good daughter”–studious, talented on the piano, and genteel–and was the clear favorite of their mother. On the other hand, Vera was just adequate at studies, preferring practical things and not a big reader, never mastered the piano and preferred to tell it like it was rather than “putting on airs.”

My grandmother never told me anything about that secretarial school, but since she never worked as a secretary, I have to assume it was not a good fit.  She did like to talk about being in Times Square at the turn of the century, as people rang in 1900. That was an event that stayed with her all her life.

Guy Anderson

Guy Anderson (date unknown)

And the rest of ‘all of her life’ was spent in and around Killbuck, Ohio, with travel as frequently as she could manage it. I’m not sure how long she remained in New York City, but in 1904, she married Guy Anderson (1878-1944) in Killbuck. The county newspaper announcement said with the hyperbole common of the period, “The groom is one of the most prosperous young farmers of Monroe township, while the bride is a talented and accomplished young lady and enjoys the high esteem of the best citizens of our neighboring village.”

Anderson Wedding announcement

Anderson Wedding Announcement 1904

She was 23, and reluctant to take on the care of his two children from a previous marriage, so Guy’s brother Ben Anderson and his wife raised Rhema Anderson (Fair) and Telmar Anderson.

According to my mother’s [Harriette Anderson Kaser’s] recollection, Vera and Guy knew each other from school, but he was several years older than she. Mother also said that Guy taught school when he was younger, so perhaps he was a teacher when Vera was in school.

When they married, however, he ran a family farm outside of town, and she went from the glamorous life in the household of a New York lawyer to being a farm wife. In a new version of “How you going to keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?” Vera did not like it a bit. It wasn’t long until they moved back into town, where Grandpa Guy, who we called Daddy Guy, tried various jobs to support their quickly growing family.

The year after they were married Vera and Guy had a boy baby. One year later, Harriette was born, and two years after that the youngest son was born. Grandma Vera, in her plain-spoken way, said, “Every time he hung his pants on the bedpost, I had another baby.”

Interestingly, through my youth, I always dreamed of living in New York City for a few months–not permanently– I always said. Was I trying to relive Grandma Vera’s life? Although I obediently, and happily went through college,  I inherited her travel itch. And when I was married, I had three children in three years, just like Grandma. This ancestor tracking has made me realize how like some of our ancestors I am.

As we sat on her porch in the 1950’s, Vera gazed after the tall old man walking down the sidewalk, and mused, “He never was known to be drunk.” She never spoke again about her lost love.