Learning From The Past
My name is Timothy Elliott and I am one of the Historical Interpreters at The Historic Sandusky Museum. My job includes many things, such as giving tours of the historic house and running the gift shop, but it also entails doing research on the Hutter family, a distinguished family that lived at Sandusky for over one hundred years. For the last few months, I have been combing over hundreds of Hutter family letters and documents to get a clearer picture of their history and what their lives were like during the nineteenth century. Using these research materials, I have been able to compile them into biographies about different individuals in the Hutter family to allow others to learn about their fascinating lives as I have.
The process of research always begins with an idea followed by a hefty amount of reading to find something that might support the idea. In my case, I developed two main ideas that I wanted to focus on when researching the Hutters. First, I wanted to learn about any military careers in the Hutter family, what they did while in service to the military, and how they were affected by the military. Second, I wanted to examine the family lives of the Hutters to see how they interacted with each other, as well as to see their expectations for each other. Almost everything I needed could be found in the hundreds of letters that the Hutter family kept over the last two hundred years. It was only a matter of taking the time to read through it. Many letters had previously been transcribed on a computer for easier access, but dozens of letters remain in their original state and the process slows down as it is usually more difficult to read old letters, which can have faded ink or simply a hard-to-read handwriting.
After much research of letters, as well as available online documents, and editing, I have been able to write short biographies of Edward Sixtus Hutter and Major George Christian Hutter. George Christian Hutter served in the U.S. military for nearly fifty years and purchased Sandusky in 1841. Edward Sixtus Hutter was the half-brother of George and served in the U.S. Navy for several years, as well as former owner of Poplar Forest, the summer home of President Thomas Jefferson. For my next project, I would like to write a biography of James Risque Hutter, a son of George Hutter and a Confederate officer that participated in the Battle of Gettysburg. The history of the Hutter family runs deep and has shown me that there is always more to learn by looking at the past.
Timothy Elliott is a historical interpreter at Historic Sandusky who focuses on Hutter family research using historical letters and other documents. He graduated Lynchburg College in 2015 with a BA in History. More of his work can be found on the Historic Sandusky website with the Hutter Family Diaries, Correspondences, and Biographies.