d’Autremont from Men of Minnesota
June 2, 1855|
Angelica, New York
|Died||July 25, 1919
Angelica, New York
|Education||Columbia University, 1875, Cornell University, 1869-1871|
|Occupation||Lawyer and politician|
Charles d'Autremont, Jr. (June 2, 1855, Angelica, N.Y. – July 25, 1919, Angelica, N.Y.) was a mayor of Duluth, Minnesota. He was an attorney by profession, active in the Democratic Party, and pursued the exploitation of copper and iron mineral resources.
Early life and education
D’Autremont’s father, Charles, Sr., was a banker and in the mercantile trade at Angelica, New York. He continued in his father’s trade. The family was part of the movement of French refugees into New York’s southern tier, a movement which included the Du Pont family as well. Among the family wares were grindstones, shipped to Geneva, New York for sale, as well as the processing of wolf pelts as a part of the New York State bounty on the predator. He also traded stocks in New York City and invested in western real estate. In 1848, Charles, Sr. traveled the Continent - notably the Republic of France - arriving in Paris during the Revolutions of that year. Sarah Collins d’Autremont, spouse to Charles, Sr., was an abolitionist. Their son, Charles Jr., prepared at the Angelica Academy, matriculated at Cornell University (1868) for Academic Years 1868-69, 1869–70 and 1870-71. He took ill and removed to Lausanne, Switzerland to study in a place more favorable to his recovery than Ithaca, New York. In 1872, d’Autremont returned to the United States to study law. He first read the law with his uncle, John G. Collins, at Angelica, New York. He then attended Columbia Law School, from which he received his LL.B. (1875). Charles d’Autremont, Jr. then spent the summer of 1875 travelling Europe; and he returned in 1879. During the fall of 1875, he decided to settle in Elmira, New York, where he practiced law as an associate attorney in his future father-in-law’s firm, Hart & McGuire. He was elected to Chemung County Board of Supervisors. In 1878, he returned to family’s homestead, The Retreat, and hung his shingle to practice law at Angelica. During the professional years on New York’s southern tier (1875–1882), d’Autremont campaigned actively for Horace Greeley in 1872, Samuel Tilden in 1876, and Winfield Scott Hancock in 1880. He was president of Elmira’s Tilden and Hancock Clubs and gave stump speeches throughout New York and Pennsylvania. He removed to Duluth, Minnesota in 1882.
The Minnesota years
The removal to Duluth was happenstance. Charles d’Autremont, Jr. travelled east from a hunting trip on the Little Missouri River, and d'Autremont missed the eastbound steamer at Duluth. Waiting several days for the next boat, he decided Duluth had opportunities lacking at home. Reaching Angelica, he packed up his belongings and returned with his family. Charles d’Autremont, Jr. was elected Saint Louis County attorney in 1884 and ran for Attorney General of the State of Minnesota in 1888. He was defeated. D’Autremont’s western law practice focused on federal land grant law, with several notable appeals being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. He also championed State laws against gambling and banning the sale of liquor on Sunday. In 1892 he was elected Mayor of Duluth. One of his most pressing concerns as Mayor was relieving the effects of the Panic of 1893, which laid off hundreds of mine works who, having no work, then moved into Duluth. In 1896 and 1902, d’Autremont served as Democratic elector for the State of Minnesota. After 1902, he served on the Democratic State Central Committee and its Executive Committee. His financial contribution to the campaign of William Jennings Bryan was double the party member’s average for the 1908 presidential campaign.
In 1892, Charles d’Autremont surveyed the historic Mesaba range for iron ore. He and James Sheridan staked claims that became the great Sheridan, d’Autremont and Foster mines. In 1900, d’Autremont moved into copper ore exploitation. He organized, in part, the Lake Superior and Western Development Company, later the subject of a takeover by the Arizona and Calumet Mining Company. Having focused on the copper and iron mining industries, he was eventually president of the Angelica Mining Company, of Wicks, Montana, and a director of the Calumet and Arizona Mining Company. At their peak, his mining interests stretched from British Columbia through the United States and into the Republic of Mexico.
Charles d’Autremont, Jr.’s spouse was Harriet “Hattie” Hart, dau. of Erastus Parmalee Hart of Elmira, New York. They were married in Elmira, N.Y. on April 21, 1880. Charles and Hattie had four children: Antoinette (b. July 10, 1881, Angelica, N.Y.), spouse to Oliver S. Andresen of Duluth, Minn.; Louis Paul (b. Aug. 23, 1883, Duluth, Minn.); Charles Maurice (b. Aug. 6, 1887, Duluth, Minn.); Hubert Hart (b. Feb. 19, 1889, Duluth, Minn.) and Marie Genevieve (b. March 9, 1892, Duluth, Minn.), spouse to Alexander Le Roy Gerry of Hibbling, Minn.
Hubert Hart d’Autremont
Charles’ son Hubert Hart d'Autremont attended Duluth’s public schools, Phillips Exeter Academy, and Cornell University. He took his juris doctorate from Columbia Law School in 1912. Hubert practiced law in New York City for about two years, and then went to Bisbee, Arizona, where he entered the law office of Knapp & Boyle, both of whom formerly practiced in St. Louis County, Minnesota. His practice focused on mining law, an interest continued throughout his life. He was spouse to Helen C. Congdon d'Autremont; they married in January 1918 just before Hubert deployed to France as a pilot in the United States Army Air Service. He returned to Duluth, not Arizona, after the war. D’Autremont then entered into the practice of law with Harry Gearhart, as Gearhart & d’Autremont. The firm represented Minnesota’s timber business. Although he was active during the 1920s in the practice of the law, he maintained an active interest in mining itself. He journeyed to Southern Rhodesia to support development of a Roan Antelope Copper Company property. He also made many trips to the West, where his brother Charles Maurice was engaged in mining. Like his father, Hubert was active in the Minnesota Democratic party. In 1920 he was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, and was Chairman of the Minnesota Democratic State Central Committee during Governor Al Smith’s challenge to President Herbert Hoover in the 1928 campaign. He was a member of the Minnesota bar from 1920 to 1930, but removed to Tucson, Arizona in 1931 to aid the health of his youngest son, Hugh.
In Arizona, Hugh H. d’Autremont served as Vice President of the Southern Arizona Bank and Trust Company. Eventually, he was President of the same. In 1931 he organized, in part, the Tucson Organized Charities. Democratic party insiders listed him for potential cabinet positions in Franklin D. Roosevelt's first administration. In 1933, Hubert became a member of Arizona’s first State Board of Public Welfare. He was known throughout the state for his leadership in establishing facilities for the care of the tubercular. D’Autremont maintained his political interests. In 1940 was elected to the Arizona State Senate, and served in the upper chamber through the 1947 session, when he was elected President of the Senate. His Senate leadership was focused on maintaining the State of Arizona’s rights to Colorado River water. In April, 1947, at the end of the Legislative Session, Hubert visited Washington, D.C. to execute duties as a member of a legislative interim committee. At the conclusion of his work on the Potomac, he drove to his family’s homeplace at Angelica, New York to close on the purchase of a country home, Villa Belvidere. Preparing to dine with friend John D. Dickson, Senator Hubert collapse as they were leaving for the restaurant. At the time of Hubert’s death, Villa Belvidere was an historic 137-year-old mansion with spreading lawns down to the upper Genesee River. It was located at the last wooden bridge over the river, upstream. Originally the seat of the Church family from whom the d’Autremonts purchased their homestead, Hubert was preparing to renovated the Villa and restore it to its 19th-century condition. Hubert and Helen had five children: Chester (d. Dec. 6, 1964)(Alice, spouse, no children); Marie d’Autremont Gerry)(d. Houston, June 8, 1990). His son Lieutenant Charles Maurice, USN, died in 1944 during Operation Shingle at the Anzio beachhead. Another son, Hugh, died prematurely of an illness in 1946. His daughter Cecily was spouse to James Angleton, long serving director of counter-intelligence for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The d’Autremonts Arizona home became a salon for the arts. E.E. Cummings wintered with Hubert and Helen in 1945 at the invitation of Cecily d’Autremont Angleton. Cummings used the respite from his arthritis to engage, in discourse, Juan Xavier of the Tohono O'odham and anthropologist Gwyneth Harrington. After the death of two sons, Hubert decided to retired to the original family homestead at Angelica, New York.
Helen Congdon d’Autremont
Hubert’s spouse, Helen Congdon d'Autremont’s, was a leader on women's and social issues in the state of Arizona. As E.E. Cummings described Helen, “....this lady looks like Renoir’s Madame Charpentier... shy incredibly generous perfectly sincere doer of good.”  Through Helen’s leadership, the d’Autremonts were thought to be the largest individual contributors to Tucson charities. Anonymously, she provided aid to University of Arizona students and founded, in part, an desegrated equal opportunity housing development. Her support for this effort included providing d’Autremont family funds for the homes’ closing costs. She organized health and childcare within the resulting Pasqua Village, and then founded, in part, the Amerind Foundation to aid the indigenous Nations. Helen served on Mayor's Committee on Human Relations, the board of the Association for Papago Affairs, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Young Women’s Christian Association. While the YWCA was in formation, Helen d’Autremont opened the family compound swimming pool for the instruction of young children.
She was also the founder and first president, Tucson Chapter of League of Women Voters. Her involvement with the League included service as an early president of the state organization. A founding Trustee of Prescott College, the Tucson Medical Center, and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, she also was active in the First Congregational Church and donated to the decoration of a small chapel and through that effort, commissioned the artist, Charles Clements, to design and execute a mosaic in the fellowship hall.
In 1962, Helen d'Autremont was named Tucson’s “Woman of the Year” for promoting desegregated housing. Further honors were granted in 1973 from the Arizona Historical Society, the Tucson Heritage Foundation, and the d'Autremont Memorial Association. Both Helen and Hubert d’Autremont, were memorialized through a permanent needs-based cholarship at the University of Arizona. A foundation and plaque at the John C. Fremont House was also dedicated to them.
The d’Autremont family
Anciently, the d’Autremont family were native to the Duchy of Lorraine at Holy Roman Empire’s western march. They became refugees from Revolutionary France. The arms d’Autremont were quartered with those of the Dukes of Lorraine, making the family descendants in the paternal line of the princely house. The American progenitor, Hubert d'Autremont, was born in France. He and his eldest son stormed the Bastille in 1789. He was subsequently executed during the Terror. Hubert and spouse, Marie Jeanne d’Ohet (1745–1810, Angelica, N.Y.), were married on February 3, 1770. Madame Marie Jeanne d’Autremont fled France via LeHarve in 1792, arriving in the Royalist colony at Asylum, Pennsylvania. When the colony went into decline, the d’Autremonts and Madame d’Autremont’s sister, Marie Genevieve d’Ohet LaFevre and her spouse, Antonine Bartholemy Louis LaFevre, moved to Butternut Creek at Pittsfieldtown, near Cooperstown, New York. Before arriving on the Chenango, they settled the French Royalist settlement of Azilum, Pennsylvania. Madame d’Autremont emigrated with three sons: Louis Paul (Nov. 7, 1770-1840 Paris), who returned to France as private secretary to Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord and later served as ambassador to Great Britain and Portugal. He had one daughter, spouse to a Mssr. Bridet. Madame d’Autremont Bridet, in turn, had two sons. In 1852, by a decree of Emperor Napoleon III, the Bridet sons took their mother's maiden name, d'Autremont. The second son, Alexander Hubert d'Autremont (March 12, 1776, Paris – Apr. 4, 1857, Angelica, N.Y.) was a married to Abigail Dodge, daughter of Major Dodge of Towanda, Pennsylvania. Alexander fought for the United States in the War of 1812. Third son, Augustus François d'Autremont (Nov. 19, 1822, Angelica, N.Y. – March 2, 1891, Angelica, N.Y.), married Sarah Collins at Angelica, N. Y. Sarah Collin’s father, Judge John G. Collins, was a veteran of the War of 1812, having served as a lieutenant in the New York State militia. Leaving Butternut Creek in 1806, the refugees purchased Judge Church’s land on the Genesee River, near Angelica, and built the d’Autremont homeplace, “The Retreat.” Arriving with the d’Autremonts in New York’s southern tier were Victor DuPont, the brother of Eleuthère Irénée du Pont and Jean-Guillaume, baron Hyde de Neuville. Madame d’Autremont’s son, Augustus d’Autremont and his spouse, Sarah Collins d’Autremont, had two children, Charles d'Autremont, Jr. of this article, and Mary d'Autremont (b. Oct. 16, 1864, Angelica, N. Y.).
Charles d’Autremont, Jr. was eulogized as “...an enthusiastic sportsman... devoted to rod and gum, and was fond of travel. A man of strong personality, his integrity was unimpeachable, his honesty beyond question. Sympathetic, extremely generous, patriotic and democratic, he was utterly devoid of fear of any kind. He loved his home and family life, was staunch and loyal in his friendships, while his genial nature endeared him to all who came within the radius of his influence. He was an extensive reader and collector of works of art and of books, having in possession at the time of his death a large and interesting library.
Charles d’Autremont, Jr. returned from the West to the family homeplace at Cuba, New York, near Angelica. From 1917 to 1919, his health declined and he died.
Charles d’Autremont, Jr. was a member of Duluth’s Commercial Club, the Kitchi Gammi Club, The Boat Club, The Yacht Club, The Curling Club, and the Northland Country Club. He initiated into both the Phi Kappa Psi and Psi Upsilon fraternities at Cornell University, when the local chapter of the former was changing affiliations between national organizations. At Phi Kappa Psi, he was a member along with, among others, federal Judge Franklin Ferriss and U.S. Senator Carl Schurz (R-Wis.). He was also a member of the Irving Literary Society. When living in Elmira, New York, he was a member of St. Omar's Commandery and the Century Club. Charles’ sons Hubert Hart and Charles Maurice d’Autremont were Cornell graduates and members of Phi Kappa Psi and the Irving Literary Society, both joining with professor and Progressive Alfred Hayes, Jr.
- Katherine Osburn, H-SHGAPE Discussion Log, Re: Query: Looking for information on Charles D’Autremont, Mayor of Duluth, Minnesota 1892-1894 (March 1, ).
- John S. Minnard, History of Angelica, New York: A Centennial Memorial (1896).
- Sunday Telegram (Elmira, New York)(March 22, 1896) at 1.
- To Furnish Work for the Unemployed, Owego Daily Times (Aug. 8, 1893) at 8.
- Democrats Publish Their Contributions, N.Y. Times (Oct. 16, 1908).
- Obituaries, Charles d’Autremont ’72, Cornell Alumni News (22:4)(Oct. 16, 1919) at 11.
- Mexican Consolidation, New York Sun (Dec. 31, 1906) at 11.
- Eleventh Judicial District Bar Association, Memorials of the St. Louis County District Court (Jan. 7, 1947).
- Arthur Krock, 150 ‘Favorite Sons’ For Cabinet Posts Revealed by Survey, N.Y. Times (Nov. 13, 1932).
- Arizona Senate President Dies, Binghamton Press (Apr. 17, 1947) at 1.
- Wellsville Daily Reporter, Sale of Antiques Brings Hundreds to Historic Home (May 31, 1947).
- Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno, E.E. Cummings: a biography (2004) at 467-68.
- Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno, E.E. Cummings: a biography (2004) at 467-68.
- Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame (Aug. 9, 2011).
- A. Porter S. Sweet, Our French Emigres, The Livonia Gazette, Our French Emigres (March 7, 1979) at 11; French Pioneers (Nov. 18, 1982) at 2.
- 17 National Cyclopedia of American Biography 35 (George Derby & James T. White, eds.) (1920).
- J.W. Ingham, A Short History of Asylum (1916).
- Progressive Men of Minnesota (1902); Royalist Colony, The Evening Post (Apr. 10, 1897) at 28.
- Progressive Men of Minnesota (1902).
- Progressive Men of Minnesota (1902).
- 17 National Cyclopedia of American Biography 35 (1920).
- The Cornellian (1870)(see also the 1871 Cornellian).
- First Members of Century Club, The Telegram (March 10, 1918).
- Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, The Grand Catalogue of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity (12th ed. 1985) at 468-472.