Our Family History The Chute Family History

The Story of Our Family

by Minnie Gertrude Chute Seller
and
Letters from Minnie Gertrude Chute Seller to George M. Chute, Jr.


See: The Chute family web site




The Story of Our Family

by Minnie Gertrude Chute Seller

Wishing my family to have a better knowledge of our ancestral history, I am attempting to write down the facts as I know them. My sources of information are threefold: the family records, incidents told me by my elders, and my own experience through the years.

I find that my father's family came from England. The emigrant ancestor was Lionel Chute, born in Dedham, Essex Co., England about 1580 and married about 1610 to Rose Baker. They came to America about 1634, and settled in Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Having received a good education in England, he was qualified to teach the grammar school in Ipswich and came to be called "The old Ipswich schoolmaster."

Several children were born to them but the record is not clear, so I have to pass over two or three generations. It is not until June, 1720, that I can record the birth of another ancestor, John Chute. He was born in Rowley, Massachusetts. About 1740, he crossed over into New Hampshire and settled at Hampstead. He was married in 1745 to Judith Foster. Among their children was Thomas, born March 13, 1757, who was my great-grandfather. In 1759, he was taken by his parents to Nova Scotia, where they settled on a farm near Granville, Annapolis Co. In 1778, he married Sibyll Marshall. Fourteen children were born to them of whom Andrew, the sixth, was my grandfather.

On February 17, 1814, grandfather married Olivia Woodworth, born July 24, 1796. They had twelve children of whom John Milton, the youngest, was my father.

About 1840, they moved from Nova Scotia to Ontario and bought a 200-acre farm one mile from Lake Erie, near Pt. Burwell. It was here on July 28, 1843, that my father was born.

Grandfather was a Baptist deacon and on occasion could preach. He also had the largest house in the community, and Uncle Ezekial has told me of the meetings held in their home when the traveling preacher came to them.

Grandfather would kill a sheep, and grandmother and her girls would cook the meat and bake good things to feed their guests, who came from miles for the Sunday service. Among these good things were big milk pans of Indian pudding, made with milk, corn meal, sugar, molasses, eggs, and ginger. "Most delicious!" Uncle Ezekial said.

As a little girl I saw the remains of that first house, then used as a workshop below and a storage room above, with the stairs only a ladder fastened to one wall.

Later another frame house was built, and it was in this house that my brother Milton Augustus was born. I can dimly remember this house. Years later Uncle Freeman, who came into possession of the home, built a beautiful brick house using part of the second house for a summer kitchen and work room. This is the house I remember the best.

Grandfather's children all married and most of them settled in Ontario. Aunt Sarah Ann, the eldest daughter, married Andrew Harris and lived in Swampscott, Massachusetts, near Boston. Aunt Harriet married Burton Chute and they took up a homestead near Blue Earth City, Minnesota. Uncle Alfred was a Baptist minister and later moved to Iowa. [She may have meant "Illinois", as there is no record of Alfred being in Iowa for any extended period.] Uncle Freeman, when a young man, was a sailor on the Great Lakes. Uncle William was a volunteer in the Northern Army during the Civil War. Uncle Aaron went to California during the days of the "Gold Rush" to seek his fortune. He seems to have succeeded for he sent his wife some beautiful presents and finally started home but never arrived. He was traced to a hotel in Denver and nothing was ever heard of him after. He was only twenty-nine and left besides his wife three children - a son, Maynard, and two daughters. At the time my daughter was in school in Ann Arbor she met anther student, George Chute of Toledo, who was Maynard Chute's son.

Aunt Lovenie, I remember quite well as such a dear woman, somewhat like Aunt Mary McKerlie. Aunt Cynthia, next older than my father, was married at fifteen to Elisha McConnell. A story was told me of my father standing behind his mother's chair crying because he was losing his playmate.

At the death of grandfather in 1862, Uncle Freeman took over the management of the farm. In 1858, he had married Elizabeth Dodge. To them one son, Edgar, was born. Elizabeth died in 1961 and the next year Uncle Freeman married Rhoda Ann Warren, my mother's elder sister. There were three children, Warren, Harvey and a little girl Clara, who died when she was nine.

My father was the only one of grandfather's children that was born in Ontario when two of the older children were already married. A story was told of one time, when he was a little toddler and grandmother was giving him a bath, he slipped away from her and made a dash for the parlor where the young people were entertaining company! Among the guests was Eliza McConnell who later became the wife of Uncle Ezekial.

When my father was a young man, he went to Nova Scotia for a while and taught school. I do not know for how long, but, when he left, his pupils presented him with a fine leather-bound, family bible which is now in the possession of Ruth Chute Wills, brother Ellis' daughter.

Later, father went to Meadville, Pennsylvania and entered the Bryant and Stratten College. Our Civil War was in progress, and grandmother became possessed with the idea that he would be drafted into the Northern Army. She could not be convinced that his Canadian citizenship would prevent such action, and finally he was called home to give her peace of mind. She died in 1864.

Then my father went to Chicago and secured a position as bookkeeper for a sash, door and blind factory. I think he also took a business course in Chicago, but of that I'm not sure. On one of his visits home, father met Miss Lucy Warren who was helping her sister Rhoda that summer. A courtship followed, and before he returned to Chicago, they were engaged. They were married October 8, 1867. Before going for his bride, he rented some rooms and bought a few pieces of furniture in readiness for housekeeping. Among them was a walnut sewing stand that is now in my daughter' home.

On their wedding journey to Chicago, their goods had to be examined at the customs at Detroit and Pa went out to attend to the examining. They had quite a lot of things from both their homes, and before the customs officers were through it was time for the train to go on. Pa had just enough time to dash into the coach and leave Ma some money and tell her to go to the Adams House in Chicago and wait until he arrived on the next train. So the bride had to take her wedding journey alone.

They were married almost two years before I made my appearance, September 8, 1869. The following summer my parents feared the city heat for their baby, so Ma took me to Canada for a visit. Then Pa was stricken with a sunstroke, and we were called home.

Pa's health was not so good after that for a while, and he thought it might be best to leave the city. His brother William was living in Missouri and kept writing of the fine opportunities there and at last persuaded my father to move there. My parents were disappointed in the country and stayed only six months. A couple of incidents will show why. It was not long after the Civil War and feeling against the Yankees was high. Although Pa was a Canadian citizen, yet he came from Chicago, which classed him as a Yankee. It came to his ears that a certain gang had boasted they would "Clean out that - Yankee." My father taught a number of singing schools so it was usually late when he reached home. One night a rap came at the door and Ma, expecting it was Pa, jumped out of bed to admit him. But before unlocking the door asked who was there. A drunken voice drawled, "John, ain't you going to let me in tonight?" She hurried back to the bedroom and covered there while the pounding continued for some time, and then the intruder went away. Layer, when Pa came, she asked him three times who was there, until he became annoyed and said, "It's Milton, Lucy, why don't you let me in?" When inside, he asked her what was the matter, that she was trembling. She said, "I'm almost frightened to death", and told him the story. A neighbor to whom Ma told the incident the next day said they had heard it, and her husband had dressed, intending to go to Ma's assistance if the man got in. They knew the man to be a desperate character and it was just as well my father was not at home.

So at the end of six months my parents went back to Chicago. It was during these six months' absense that the great Chicago fire of 1871 took place. Their stay in Chicago could not have been long, because they went back to Canada where my brother Milton Augustus was born at Uncle Freeman's home August 24, 1872.

I do not know just when, but later my people moved to London, Ontario and Pa opened a music store in that city. It was while we lived there that brother Andrew Ellis was born December 7, 1874.

During this period, I started going to public school and attended my first Sunday School. I recall a Sunday School Christmas celebration, probably my first. It was held in the evening and Pa took me. The room where the meeeting was held was down a broad flight of stairs from the main lobby. Pa stopped at the head of the stairs to talk to someone, and I, waiting for him, somehow lost my balance and rolled to the bottom with Pa running to pick me up. I was not hurt but was a very humiliated little girl. I remember nothing of the program, but at its close some men brought in a clothes basket filled with big oranges and sacks of candy which were given to the children. Oranges in those days were a real treat.

London was not far from a number of our relatives, and I recall some happy times at their homes and them visiting at our house. The London fair was a yearly event in that part of Ontario and sometimes our relatives would come bringing a lot of provisions and stay with us during fair week. As we did not have sleeping accommodations for so many, my mother made "shake downs" on the floor for us children which we thought great fun.

My Grandmother Warren's home was three miles from London. Aunt Margery Harris and her family lived with her and we used to visit there sometimes. As I remember grandmother, she was an old, old lady with a band of snow-white hair showing beneath her black lace cap. I never saw her without the cap. She must have been about seventy then.

Aunt Maria Decker's home was seven miles from London, and I always enjoyed going there as there were children of about my own age: Clayton, who now lives in Deerborn, Michigan, and Addie who died a number of years ago. There were two younger ones, Warren and Clara, corresponding in age to my two younger brothers. One time when Aunt Maria and Uncle Lon were at our house they invited me to go home with them. I joyfully accepted and had a wonderful time until night came. Then I got homesick for my mother, cried, and Aunt Maria had to comfort me. I was there two weeks, and every evening there was the same performance.

Uncle Lon had a big sugar bush and this was in sugar time. We children would ride around the woods while the men gathered the sap and then played around the sugar house and watched the sap boiling down into syrup. One day Uncle "sugared off" at the house. He poured a lot of syrup into a big iron kettle out doors and when it was boiled enough we were allowed to have some syrup poured over pans of clean snow. It was delicious. Next some was poured into little patty-pan moulds to harden. Then Uncle stirred the syrup with a big wooden paddle to cause it to grain. The result was lovely soft sugar. I was taken home in a few days and had some of the patty cakes to take with me. [All together now: "Ohhhhhhh!"]

Aunt Sarah Watts lived at Ridgetown, and I was there one time in summer when phlox was in bloom. I loved the flower and its sweet odor, and now I never smell phlox but I'm taken back to Aunt Sarah's. Then Uncle Freeman and Aunt Rhoda lived forty miles away at Pa's old home. And in that vicinity lived uncles and aunts and cousins galore.

I think my father's business was not very successful, for when I was about ten years old we moved to Michigan and settled in Sanilac County. My mother's older sister Diadema had married a half brother of Uncle Alonzo Decker. He had been a lumberman years before. Aunt Dama was dead, but she left three sons Martin, Melvin and Daniel who lived in or near Deckerville.

That first summer we lived in part of Dan Decker's house on a farm southeast of Deckerville. The thing I remember best of our stay there was the wild blackberry crop. Bushes around the stumps, in the fence corners, and at the edge of the woods were loaded with the luscious fruit. Besides giving us all we could eat, Ma dried enough to nearly fill a twenty-five pound flour sack. That fall we moved to a house one mile north of Deckerville, and Pa taught the village school, Gus and I going with him.

That winter Grandmother Warren became ill and Ma took Ellis and went over to Canada to see her, leaving Pa, Gus and me to keep house. They were gone two weeks. My, but we were glad to welcome her back! I still have the little book, "Summer House Stories" she brought me. Grandma died February 27. Ma did not go over then. The following June 5, 1881, we had a new baby at our house, brother Frederick Vivian, which for me, a twelve year old girl, was a great event.

Exactly three months from Fred's birth, September 5, occurred the forest fire of 1881 which raged through three counties - Sanilac, Huron and Tuscola. I can never forget the horror of that day and night when we saw two woods, barns, and other buildings blazing and were prepared to leave our house if it caught fire. Blazing embers were flying through the air, and Ma put out two fires in our yard, one in the grass under her bedroom window. As it was, we proved to be much safer than people in the two northern counties where the forest was more dense. Many people could not reach the clearings in time and lost their lives. A number of houses in Deckerville were burned, among them, cousin Melvin Decker's home. My parents invited Melvin and his family to stay with us until they could find shelter. They were with us a week and then got rooms in the railroad depot. As soon as possible, relief came pouring in for the stricken people - lumber, clothing and food, for many families hadn't a thing left but their bare land.

I don't recall much of the following winter, except for the heavy crust that formed on the snow banks so we could walk along the top and seldom break through. Pa fastened a little box on our sled and we children used to take Fred for rides in it, up and down the road in front of our house. One time we must have turned too sharply, and over went the sled, tumbling our baby into the snow.

It must have been the next year that Pa bought a lot in Deckerville and built a house on it with a store front in which he opened a jewelry and repair shop. After we were there some time, a White Sewing Machine agent came along and convinced my father that there was a wonderful opening for sewing machines in that region and he put in a stock. The country had not yet recovered from the fire and there was no money to buy machines. As a result of this venture we lost our home and then moved to North Branch and started the shop over again. I was fifteen then. My cousin Julia Chute McConnell lived there. Her husband was the pastor of the Baptist Church at that time but moved away the next year. When I was seventeen I was baptised into the membership of that church and have found my Christian life a source of strength and comfort.

At nineteen I taught my first school - a spring term - and then went back to school for a time. This I did for five years until I had secured a second-grade certificate. I never used it, however, but went into a shop and learned to sew.

One year I taught in the Toyer District and boarded at the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Toyer. They had a niece living with them, Agnes Watson, a girl about my age, with whom I formed a lasting friendship. During my stay there, a social was held in the school house, and Aggie and I went to it. She had invited a young veterinary, Dr. Daniel E. Seller, to attend, and I met him for the first time. Aggie's young man, John R. Dayton, of course was there to make the evening interesting all'-round. This was a Friday night, and Dr. Seller invited me to ride to town with him and also to attend an ice cream lawn social the next evening. We went to the social and had just been served our ice cream when down came pouring rain, and we had to run for shelter.

This was the beginning of the romance that culminated in our marriage three years later. Those three years were interesting ones. He always had good horses, and the delightful rides and little trips we took afford me many pleasant memories. One Sunday evening he came to take me to Clifford to church. It was a lovely evening and the neighbors were sitting on their porches. Our house was on a corner, so there were three ways we could turn. The horse was turned one way, went a step or two, planted her feet, and refused to budge. She was turned another way and repeated the performance. Then she was turned around , and off we went.

Among those trips were three to the Seller home in Huron County, where I met Father and Mother Seller, Tom and Maggie, with Maudie a baby, Annie McIntyre, Jennie and Archie. The second time we went was to attend the wedding of Jennie to John Coote. This wedding had a very sad ending, for the bridgegroom died three weeks afterward of what we know now was appendicitis. Mother Seller died a month later, so I did not get to know her very well. Dan and I were engaged then, but were not financially ready to set up a home. His health was not very good, so he went to Ada, Ohio, to take a course in Pharmacy, thinking that work would not be so rigorous as what he was doing. He finally secured his pharmacy diploma, and, seeing an advertisement in a Detroit paper for a pharmacist at Germfask, in the Upper Peninsula, wrote the man, Mr. Angus McDougall, who told him to come on.

Arriving there, he soon found that the drug store was more saloon than a place to dispense drugs. Mr. McDougall, seeing he was dissatisfied, kindly recommended him to the Chicago Lumber Company at Manistique which wanted a veterinarian for its camps. Things went well with Dan that year, and February 23 of the following winter 1898 we were married. Dan came down from the north on a Monday, which was fortunate, as that night a heavy snow storm blocked the railroads and highways so that otherwise he would not have been able to reach North Branch in time for his wedding on Wednesday. None of his family from Huron County could get through - roads drifted to fence tops. Grand Trunk trains from Canada were running so Aunt Maria, Uncle Lon, Addie and Jack Sifton arrived in time. Thinking of the company of that day is saddening. By far the larger number are passed on. Of the wedding party only Bertha Scott Hannon, my bridesmaid, and myself are living.

The following Monday morning Mr. Dow Kennedy, a friend of Dan's, took us to Clifford where we boarded a Pere Marquette train for our new house in Manistique. We arrived the next day and had to stay in a hotel for a week until my box of goods - bedding, dishes, etc., arrived from home. Our first home was three rooms on Oak Street, where we lived three months until another house Dan had engaged was vacated on Cedar Street where the State Savings Bank now stands.

There was a good Baptist Church in Manistique with Rev J.C. Rooney as pastor. I soon sent for my letter from the church in North Branch and was welcomed into this one, which has been my church home all these years.

There were many Indians living in and around Manistique when I went there. A section of the West Side was called Indian Town. The Indians used to make regular begging trips through the town and often offered baskets and berries for sale. I remember one fall when we had a whole crate of cranberres that Dan bought from an Indian. I was quite startled one morning while we lived on Oak Street. I was mixing bread at the kitchen table when I "felt" someone behind me. Turning around, I found an Indian woman standing in the doorway of the middle room. She had gone through two rooms without my hearing her. She asked for some soap, which I gave her, convinced that she needed it badly. She sat down by the table and watched me mix the bread and after she had rested got up and stalked out again.

Another day I was working at the back door when an Indian woman and a little girl came. The woman caried a bag nearly full of old clothing that had been given her. I had no clothing to donate but gave her a piece of custard pie and the little girl an orange. Instead of eating the pie, she took a piece of paper from the bag, wrapped it around the pie and tucked it down among the clothes and they went away."

[Jackie's Note: The woman that Minnie mentions, living in the Manistique area, would have been a member of the Sault Tribe of the Anishinabeg (Chippewa). Their Tribal Administrator has written an extensive and instructive general tribal history, providing a background to this meeting - which obviously seemed very strange to Minnie, but was normal and polite socializing for her unexpected guest. URL: http://www.saulttribe.com/index.php .]

"Huckleberries were usually a very abundant crop those years. They could be picked in many places at the edge of town. I have seen them sold for as little as four cents a quart and have enjoyed gathering them myself. One time that first summer Dan took Nettie Fuller and me out onto the old state road to pick berries. That road was seldom used, so he left the horse standing in the road. Looking up once we saw the horse had started for home. Dan had to run to stop him, or we'd have had to walk home about two miles.

Early in 1899, Pa and Ma moved to Manistique and stayed with us, storing their goods in a nearby building. Pa started a repair shop in a corner of the Westside drug store.

April 15th of that year, 1899, we had the joy of welcoming our first born - a little daughter - whom we named Clara Gertrude. Parents and grandparents and all thought she was wonderful. No child like her.

Sister Mary McKerlie lived in Gladstone and our two families visited back and forth for many years. The Christmas following Clara's birth, John and Mary and the three children came over to spend the day with us - such a happy day!

My mother was not well that winter, and in May she had an attack of La Grippe. Because of her weakened condition she had no resistanace and after two week's illness died the morning of May 22, 1900. This was the first break in our family and it was so hard to give up our dear mother. Pa stayed on with us, with an occasional visit with Gus in Chicago.

We lived four years in this house and then bought the old Waddell house on Pearl Street. On May 15, 1902, our little son Thomas Milton was born. All the help we were able to get in the house was a fourteen-year-old girl.

When Tom was three weeks old I took my first walk out of doors for a few blocks. When I returned both children were crying, and the little maid was trying to calm them. I had left Tom asleep on a pillow in the centre of my bed. Clara had an urge to see her baby brother, so reached up and pulled the pillow to the edge of the bed. And out tumbled baby and pillow onto the floor! Tom was not hurt, but he seemed scared out of his wits.

Shortly after moving into this house there was big fire at the iron furnace which was running at that time. Electricity was not yet installed in our house, and Pa had lighted a lamp to go upstairs to bed. We wanted to see the fire, so he put the lamp down on the hall tree seat and we stepped out onto the porch, closing the door after us. After some time we were ready to go inside and found ourselves locked out. I had forgotten the Yale lock with the night lock on. Storm windows were on, and everything snugged up for winter, and I had to do some thinking to get in. I went around to the north side of the house to my bedroom window and called Clara through the ventilator slot. She, not four years old, was sleeping in a little alcove off my bedroom. After repeated calls, I wakened her and made her understand that she was to open the door for us. Then I was in terror of that lighted lamp in the hall and cautioned her over and over not to touch it. Well, she opened the door and we got in and gave thanks that all was safe.

There were some bad fires in town about that time. I saw the old frame court house burn down. Some time later one of the big saw mills burned, in which two men, Henry Hamill and Herbert Norton's father, lost their lives. Then there were occasional fires at the furnace. This iron blast furnace, owned and operated by the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Co., was one of the best industries of Manistique for many years. Along about 1910 or 1912, it was closed and dismantled, throwing a good many men out of work.

We did not find the Pearl Street house to our liking, so we bought another house at 185 Cedar Street and had John McKerlie come over from Gladstone to make some necessary alterations. We moved into it in the fall of 1902. Pa's health had been failing for some time, and the next fall, October 25, 1903, he died. Both he and Ma lived to be sixty years old. Life had been hard for both and full of disappointments. They had high ideals and tried to teach them to their children. Pa had a fine tenor voice and loved to sing, so we always had music in our home. There were always good books and other reading matter for us. They were very hospitable and always had a welcome for relatives and friends.

That winter Aunt Cynthia Hughes came to stay with us and the following February 12, 1904, our second little boy was born, whom we named Earl Ramond. Then in June of that year Father Seller came to us. He made his home with us largely for the next twelve years, with now and then a visit to Mary in Gladstone.

It must have been about 1912 that Dan secured the Fort automobile agency and opened a sales room in a building he owned on River Street. Our first car was a high wheeler. When riding it, one was really "up in the air". One day we drove to Garden taking Mr. & Mrs. Goodwin with us. All went well until we were returning home, when our car stopped and the two men worked with it quite a while before we could go on. This was followed by other models that had a good sale in that region.

Another time Dan and I, returning from Garden, met a farmer and his wife with a crate of chickens in their wagon. Our car frightened the horses, which began to plunge around. The farmer frantically motioned, showing his alarm. So we pulled up at the road-side and stopped. Dan helped unload the chickens, lead the horses past the terrifying object, and reload the chickens and they drive off. Then we could proceed on our way. This was in the early days of the automobile.

In the spring of 1913, Ellis was very ill with pneumonia and I would have gone to him only Grandpa was ill at the same time. In August of that year I went with Mrs. John McLellen and Beryle to Denver to see our respective brothers. Ellis was better, but the poor boy did look so worn and sick. We were there a month. The night we left Julia went downtown with me to the train, and as I left the house Ellis stood outside to wave a last goodbye. I think we both knew we would not meet again in this life. He died the next March, and then Julia brought her baby girl Ruth, back to Chicago where they are still living.

In the spring of 1916, Father Seller was stricken down again and died in October after seven months of suffering. Mary and Annie came to us to act as nurses. Dan and his two sisters took the body to Harbor Beach where he was laid in the family lot. Then Annie went home to Illinois and Mary to Montana where the family had preceeded her.

I need not carry the events any further for you childen know them all: our different business ventures, and different homes we owned, the school days and graduations, Clara and Tom going to college, the marriage of each one and the coming of grandchildren. Then the death of your father, and my efforts to get adjusted to life without him.

There are two events I'd like to describe as they were such happy ones. When we had been married ten years, we celebrated with a "tin wedding". A heavy snow storm that day filled the streets, so Dan had Mr. Del Dodge take the horses and sleigh and go after our guests and take them home again. Mrs. Dodge prepared the refreshments. I don't remember what we had, but I do know we had lots of fun and were given a lot of tin ware. One gift was a sterling silver spoon with six tin spoons danging from the box. This from Mr. & Mrs. Mason Quick and Leona.

The next celebration was our thirty-fifth and was a complete surprise. The 23rd of February that year came on a prayer meeting night. The meeting was held at the E.W. Miller home. Upon arriving I was invited to go upstairs to remove my wraps, which was unusual. Coming downstairs, I noticed the dining room table was beautifully set for a party. At the close of the meeting in the living room our pastor, Rev. Grosa said, "I have something against one of our deacons that must be brought up now. Dr. Seller has been married thirty-five years today."

A nice program had been prepared after which we were presented with a basket of thirty-five red roses. Then our hostess invited us to the dining room, having the bride and groom lead, followed by the bridesmaid and best man, the flower girl and our respective fathers and mothers. I don't recall who these were, only Mr. & Mrs. King and Mr. & Mrs. Owen were among them. It was so lovely of our church people to do all this. We both appreciated their thoughtfulness, and the memory is a comfort to me now.

Of my mother's family, the record goes back only to my grandparents. Asa Kellogg Warren, my grandfather, was born March 22, 1798, probably in New Hampshire and my grandmother Clarissa Waters, June 27, 1802. They were married September 18, 1820. I do not know if they came immediately to Ontario, but eventually they did and settled on a farm three miles from London. Fourteen children were both to them, only three of them boys. Only one of the boys, Ira, grew to manhood. Lucy, my mother, sixth from the last, was born August 27, 1839, when several of her sisters were married and had children. Aunt Clarissa Bisbee died in 1855, leaving a little boy named Ira. My grandparents took him and cared for him for several years until his father married again and wanted him back.

Ma told an amusing story of the little boy. One time during the London fair the young people were entertaining a number of guests and after breakfast took them out for a tour of the farm. Coming to the barnyard one spruce young man put his hands on the top fence rail to spring over. Somehow he missed and fell face down into the dirt. Little Ira, who was with them said, "Say Mister, I don't like your digging up my Grandpa's barnyard."

I don't know what the early house was like, but I remember a good-looking two-story brick house. It really was three story for the basement contained workrooms, a dairy, kitchen and family dining room - besides storage rooms.

The only other member of Grandfather's family that I know of was his brother Ira, a doctor in Boston. He wrote a "doctor book" that was considered good. Aunt Margery had a copy. I have no knowledge of its whereabouts now. This brother and his family used to visit at grandfathers and one time gave grandfather a ladder-backed chair that I now have in my home. It must be over one hundred years old.

General Joseph Warren of Revolutionary fame was a family connection of a previous generation, probably through an uncle of Grandfather's.

Grandmother must have been a good executive to keep her household running smoothly. She detailed two girls to each floor for one week. They did all the work on that floor and at the end of the week were changed around. The girls who had the upper story were expected to do a daily "stint" of spinning. The spinning wheel was in the largest of these rooms. There was a slate roof on the house and sometimes it got pretty hot up there. Then the girls would remove all their clothing but a chemise, and one would walk back and forth at the wheel, while the other watched for possible interruptions.

Nearly all the bedding and garments for the family had to be made by hand, beginning with the wool from the sheep's backs. The only thing that was done outside the home was carding of the wool into rolls. Then it must be spun, dyed and woven before it was ready to be sewed into garments. Also, there was always the kitting of socks and mittens that grandma largely did herself.

There were two apple orchards and one of the jobs of the fall was the drying of apples. Grandma had a copper wash boiler that she bought by selling dried apples at three cents a pound.

I have told of my mother meeting my father one summer night while helping Aunt Rhoda and of their subsequent marriage. Her wedding dress was to have been a lovely brown silk, but Grandfather died in May preceding her marriage. So she wore a white barred muslin dress instead and had a white bonnet to wear with it. The silk dress was made up after she went to Chicago. Incidentally, I wore out the brown silk when I was young woman.

When Ma was buying her dishes in London, the dealer gave her a little glass pitcher saying, "Here is a pitcher that will hold just enough cream for two." I have the little pitcher now.

I was about three months old when Ma's next younger sister Maria was married to Alonzo Decker and they took their wedding trip to Chicago to visit my parents. It seems Uncle Lon had courted Aunt Maria in fear and trembling, fearing that his father, who as a very arbitrary man, might not approve of his choice. One day his father said to him, "Lonzo, mother and I are getting old, and we think it is time you married and brought a wife here. We can't think of any one we'd like as well as Maria Warren." Well, that was all the young man needed so he promptly proposed to his sweetheart and was accepted.

At Grandfather's death Uncle Ira took over the management of the farm. He and his wife could not have been good managers. Uncle Ira died in a few years and his wife and two childen moved away. Aunt Margery and Uncle Charles Harris came to live with Grandmother. I do not know all of the circumstances but there must have been a mortgage foreclosure. Anyway, Grandma had to leave the home she had worked so hard to secure, and died in Aunt Margery's home, I think in Ailea Craig.

It seems a pity that both my parents' childhood homes should have passed out of the hands of the family - both fine homes where large families had been reared in plenty. The Chute homestead went in much the same way after Uncle Freeman's death and his son Warren came into possesion of it.

This is the story of our family as well as I am able to tell it, a story over three hundred years. Let us hope we have made a worthy contribution to the development of our America.




Letter from Minnie Gertrude Chute Seller to George M. Chute, Jr.

Lansing, Michigan
February 7, 1953

Mr. George Chute
Plymouth, Michigan

Dear Mr. Chute:

Would you like to do me a favor? There is a poem in your "Chute Genealogy" that I would so like a copy of. The title is "Put of the Old House Into the New", and was read by my father at Uncle Freeman's house warming. I would be very grateful if you would type a copy for me.

If you are still collecting data for your book here are some items:

You perhaps know of the death of Wendell Vreeland, my daughter's husband, January 17, 1952. About a month before that, their eldest son, Robert Wendell, was married to Barbara Kinzey and I have just received a message telling of the birth ... of a little son, Richard Wendell. Bob was a "Naval Reserve" and last spring was called back in the service and sent to a shipyard in Florida. He is a mechanical engineer.

Two years ago I think I wrote you of the death of my two brothers' wives, one in March and one in June. My brother Fred was married again this past fall to Mrs. Sophia Huber of Los Angeles. I do not know the date but think it was in Oct.

I have lost touch with my Canadian relatives, but am told that Jennie Bently Chute, Martland's widow, died a few years ago.

Yours with thanks,

Mrs. Minnie G. Sellers
812 Dyer Road
Lansing, Michigan

[GMC handwritten note at the bottom of this letter: "June 5, 1877: At that party, J.M. Chute read Will M. Carleton's "Out of the Old House into the New", with variations, which were very appropriate."]

[Jackie's note: It is possible that the poem being discussed here was originally (or later) published under a different title. The only poem that seems to fit this description is Will Carleton's Out of the Old House, Nancy, reprinted below. As you read it, it is obvious why this poem might have caused many a settler to simply burst into tears when they heard it, as Minnie relates in the next letter:

Out of the old house, Nancy — moved up into the new;  
All the hurry and worry is just as good as through.  
Only a bounden duty remains for you and I —  
And that’s to stand on the doorstep here, and bid the old house good-by. 

What a shell we’ve lived in, these nineteen or twenty years!        5 
Wonder it hadn’t smashed in, and tumbled about our ears;  
Wonder it’s stuck together, and answered till to-day;  
But every individual log was put up here to stay.  

Things looked rather new, though, when this old house was built;  
And things that blossomed you would’ve made some women wilt;         10 
And every other day, then, as sure as day would break, 
My neighbor Ager come this way, invitin’ me to “shake.”  

And you, for want of neighbors, was sometimes blue and sad,  
For wolves and bears and wildcats was the nearest ones you had;  
But, lookin’ ahead to the clearin’, we worked with all our might,         15 
Until we was fairly out of the woods, and things was goin’ right.  

Look up there at our new house! — ain’t it a thing to see?  
Tall and big and handsome, and new as new can be;  
All in apple-pie order, especially the shelves,  
And never a debt to say but what we own it all ourselves.         20 

Look at our old log-house — how little it now appears!  
But it’s never gone back on us for nineteen or twenty years;  
An’ I won’t go back on it now, or go to pokin’ fun—  
There’s such a thing as praisin’ a thing for the good that it has done.  

Probably you remember how rich we was that night,         25 
When we was fairly settled, an’ had things snug and tight:  
We feel as proud as you please, Nancy, over our house that’s new,  
But we felt as proud under this old roof, and a good deal prouder, too.  

Never a handsomer house was seen beneath the sun:  
Kitchen and parlor and bedroom — we had ’em all in one;         30 
And the fat old wooden clock, that we bought when we come West,  
Was tickin’ away in the corner there, and doin’ its level best.  

Trees was all around us, a-whisperin’ cheering words;  
Loud was the squirrel’s chatter, and sweet the songs of birds;  
And home grew sweeter and brighter — our courage began to mount —         35 
And things looked hearty and happy then, and work appeared to count.  
 
And here one night it happened, when things was goin’ bad,  
We fell in a deep old quarrel — the first we ever had; 
And when you give out and cried, then I, like a fool, give in,  
And then we agreed to rub all out, and start the thing ag’in.         40 
  
Here it was, you remember, we sat when the day was done,  
And you was a-makin’ clothing that wasn’t for either one;  
And often a soft word of love I was soft enough to say,  
And the wolves was howlin’ in the woods not twenty rods away.  
 
Then our first-born baby—a regular little joy,         45 
Though I fretted a little because it wasn’t a boy: 
Wa’ n’t she a little flirt, though, with all her pouts and smiles?  
Why, settlers come to see that show a half a dozen miles.  
  
Yonder sat the cradle—a homely, home-made thing,—  
And many a night I rocked it, providin’ you would sing;         50 
And many a little squatter brought up with us to stay,—  
And so that cradle, for many a year, was never put away.  
  
How they kept a-comin’, so cunnin’ and fat and small!  
How they growed! ’t was a wonder how we found room for ’em all;  
But though the house was crowded, it empty seemed that day         55 
When Jennie lay by the fireplace there, and moaned her life away.  
  
An’ right in there the preacher, with Bible and hymn-book, stood,  
“’Twixt the dead and the living,” and “hoped ’t would do us good;”  
And the little whitewood coffin on the table there was set,  
And now as I rub my eyes it seems as if I could see it yet.         60 
  
Then that fit of sickness it brought on you, you know;  
Just by a thread you hung, and you e’en-a’-most let go;  
And here is the spot I tumbled, an’ give the Lord his due,  
When the doctor said the fever’d turned, an’ he could fetch you through.  
  
Yes, a deal has happened to make this old house dear:         65 
Christenin’s, funerals, weddin’s—what have n’t we had here?  
Not a log in this buildin’ but its memories has got,  
And not a nail in this old floor but touches a tender spot.  
  
Out of the old house, Nancy,—moved up into the new;  
All the hurry and worry is just as good as through;         70 
But I tell you a thing right here, that I ain’t ashamed to say,  
There ’s precious things in this old house we never can take away.  
  
Here the old house will stand, but not as it stood before: 
Winds will whistle through it, and rains will flood the floor;  
And over the hearth, once blazing, the snow-drifts oft will pile,         75
And the old thing will seem to be a-mournin’ all the while.  
  
Fare you well, old house! you ’re naught that can feel or see,  
But you seem like a human being—a dear old friend to me;  
And we never will have a better home, if my opinion stands,  
Until we commence a-keepin’ house in the house not made with hands.         80 

Source:  http://www.bartleby.com/248/964.html.
Will Carleton is possibly best known for his poem, Over the Hill to the Poorhouse. To read more about the author and that particular poem, go to http://www.hillsdalecounty.info/history0053.asp




Letter from Minnie Gertrude Chute Seller to George M. Chute, Jr.


Lansing, Michigan
March 10, 1953

Dear Mr. Chute:

It was so kind of you to go to so much trouble to get the poem I asked for. I was so sure I saw it in the book you let me have a day or two. It must have been only the title I saw.

I thank you very much. If the opportunity comes I will look up the complete poem. I know that there was one verse telling of the death of a little daughter in the old house and my mother told me how Aunt Rhoda cried when that was read.

Shortly before that, their only little girl, Clara, had died and I believe that was the reason Uncle Freeman built the new house at that time, so that Aunt Rhoda would have so much to do she would have no time to grieve.

Did you know them at all? Perhaps not. You would have been a little boy when they died. I loved them both very much. You know they were both doubly related to me.

I am sure you will find your new work interesting but it will be harder until you have the run of things.

I wish you success. Thanking you again.

Yours,
Minnie G. Seller



Letter from Minnie Gertrude Chute Seller to George M. Chute, Jr.


Delton, Michigan
January 2, 1961

Dear Mr. Chute:

It has occurred to me that I have not written to tell you of the death of my brother, Milton Augustus Chute, last June 4th at the home of his daughter Mrs. Herbert Fritsch in Galien, Mich. He would have been 88 had he lived until Aug. 24.

I'm referring to your letter of Feb. 5th, 1960, I see you have not been informed of two more of Clara's granchildren, Bob's two little girls, Deborah Gene ... and Nancy Ann. I think you know Bob (Robert W.) lives in Rochester, N.Y. Clara's boy Victor Bruce is not married.

Charles Edmond her youngest son was married last Aug. 27 to Miss Linda Slocum of Hastings, Mich. Charles is the music teacher in the Webberville school. Linda is a junior in Michigan State and drives to E. Lansing each day.

I think you must have the death of brother Gus's wife Lillian in Galien, Mich. March 24, 1950. Brother Fred's wife Margaret is dead too and Fred has remarried again but I have not the dates of either event. Born to George and Ruth Chute Wills, a daughter Carolyn Julia ... brother Ellis's granddaughter. You may have this item. Brother Gus's daughter Dorothy Hanlon had four children, but I cannot give you particulars. Her address is Mrs. R. Hanlon, 312 Central Avenue, Sandusky, Ohio.

I wish you success in your book.

Your mother is evidently a year older than I. Last September 8th I was 91. Am fairly well but use a cane when I walk out, since my sight is not very good and my step not sure since I fell two years ago and broke my pelvic bone.

I sold my house in Manistique four years ago and have an apartment in Earl's home near Traverse City; Empire Route 1. However, for the last three winters I have been here with Clara as she is alone.

I think you know she is the librarian in the Delton schools. Besides her duties there is she is taking a course in Western [Michigan] U. in Kalamazoo. She goes to Kalamazoo every Tuesday after school to attend a class from 6 to 8. So you see she is a busy girl. She drives her own car and manages it beautifully. Wendell would be proud of her, as I am.

She went on a conducted tour to Europe last summer and had a wonderful time. Got home just in time to attend Charles' wedding. One of the highlights of the trip was seeing "The Passion Play".

I will be interested in knowing when your book is finished.

My best wishes to you and your family.

Minnie Seller

Family Page of Minnie Seller
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