Thursday, June 03, 2010


I've been discussing three of John Cutter West's surviving sons lives in the 1870s and 1880's using the Federal Nonpopulation Schedules 1850-1880 for the state of Maine. Asa, Jonathan and Hiram West did quite well for themselves, in my estimation. But there was a fourth brother, Leonidas. Where was he in all this?

The answer is simple: like many young veterans of the Civil War, he went West. Leonidas was the youngest son and probably didn't receive a very large inheritance from John Cutter West's estate. On 18Jan 1872 he married Valora Abbott and probably headed west shortly afterward since the couple were living in Minneapolis MN when their oldest son Otis Leroy West was born on 8Jan 1873. Leonidas apparently never owned a farm and his occupation on the Federal and Minnesota Censuses that I've found is given as "lumberman". In fact, I haven't found any indication that he ever owned his own home. Minneapolis City Directories that I've found have him at two different rented locations, first at "401 North Av N cor. Adams " and then at "1228 Adams". I think that at least the latter was a rented house because in the 1905 State Census there are five adults at 1228 Adams: Leonidas, Valora, their three adult children and their daughter in law. If it was an apartment it certainly would have been a crowded one! I believe Leonidas rented his home instead of owning one because of his chosen profession.

Leonidas was a lumberman, and that meant that he would be off at a lumbercamp for much of the year for an extended period of time. If he'd also owned a farm, that would put a large load on his wife Valora's shoulders until his sons Otis and Frank were old enough to help. By renting a home in Minneapolis he spared Valora the ardous life that women such as my great grandmother Clara Ellingwood experienced when her first husband Charles Tidswell went off to work as a lumber camp cook and left her to manage the farm. I also have to believe that Leonidas liked his chosen profession because he stayed at it in Minnesota for much of his life. Perhaps he gained some on the job training working for his brother Hiram at Hiram's sawmill before he set out for Minnesota?

Eventually age must have caught up with Leonidas. Sometime between the 1920 and 1930 Censuses he and Valora joined their sons Otis and frank out in Washington State. Otis was the manager of a succesful lumber and sawmill company and Frank had bought a ranch, and the winter weather certainly must have been milder than that in Minnesota. He died there in 1932.

Leonidas was just as succesful a man as his three older brothers. He just chose a different place and profession in which to do it!


Brenda said...

Is Leonidas a family name? Michigan has a village named Leonidas in the southwestern part of the state.

Bill West said...

Hi Brenda,
As far as I know it is not a family
name, and there's only been one
Leonidas West in my family.

Good question, though!