Thomas Huleatt family
Neighbors of the Ingalls family in Pepin County, Wisconsin, in the 1860s.
There was a dance at Mr. Huleatt’s… and we all went, riding all bundled up in the big sled. Mr. Huleatt was an Irish gentleman, Ma said. His place was called Summer Hill and everyone was proud to be invited there. – handwritten Pioneer Girl manuscript
In Little House in the Big Woods (Chapter 10, “Summertime”), Laura Ingalls Wilder describes one visit made by their Pepin neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Huleatt and their children Clarence and Eva. Mostly Laura remembers playing with tree-climbing Clarence, who wore shoes with highly-desirable copper toes! More is written about the Huleatts in the Big Woods manuscript and in Wilder’s Pioneer Girl manuscript. There, she writes that she attended school with her Quiner cousins and Clarence Huleatt, and that her family attended a dance held at the home of Mr. Huleatt’s father (also named Thomas P. Huleatt), whose large farm was known as Summer Hill. Clarence and Eva’s father called their farm Oakland.
Thomas Pennefather Huleatt, Sr. was born in County Tipperary, Ireland, on February 28, 1802. He married Jane Harden and the couple had at least six children: Thomas Jr., Samuel, Hugh, John, Jane, and Arthur. In 1852, the Huleatts moved to Canada, and after two years there, they emigrated to America, settling in Rock Island, Illinois. After a year, they moved to Bogus Valley, north of Pepin, Wisconsin. Thomas Sr., Thomas Jr., and Samuel Huleatt purchased farms near each other.
Thomas Huleatt purchased 160 acres in Township 23, Range 15, the W-NW and E-NW Section 4 and the SE-NE Section 5. This land had been given to the widow of a soldier in the Connecticut Militia in the War of 1812 under the Scrip Warrant Act of 1855. Such lands were often never kept by the original patent holder, but sold through land brokers at a price per acre much less than the government preemption price (usually $1.25 per acre). By the 1870s, Thomas Huleatt had accumulated almost 250 acres and built a large estate, called Summer Hill. Thomas and Jane Huleatt spent the remainder of their lives in Pepin County. Thomas died July 1, 1896; he is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Pepin County.
Thomas Pennefather Huleatt, Jr., was born September 18, 1841, in County Tipperary, Ireland. Following his parents and siblings to Pepin County, Wisconsin, Thomas purchased 80 acres in Section 34, Township 24, Range 15. He named his home Oakland. He married Maria Amelia Clark on June 28, 1865. Maria, born March 20, 1845, in Pennsylvania, was the daughter of Mahala and Daniel Clark. The couple had two children: Clarence (born 1866) and Eva (born 1870). Thomas held many public offices in Pepin County, including five terms as County Treasurer. He also served on the board of the Barry Corner School, which his own children attended. Laura and Mary Ingalls also attended Barry Corner School.
After a long career as a farmer, the Huleatts and daughter Eva moved to Whitehall (Trempealeau County) Wisconsin, where Thomas helped son Clarence in the mercantile business. Maria died April 18, 1905. Thomas died January 3, 1906. Both are buried in the Lincoln Township Cemetery, Whitehall, Wisconsin.
From History of Trempealeau County, 1917. Thomas P. Huleatt was born in County Tipperary, Ireland, the son of Thomas and Jane (Harden) Huleatt, who brought their family to America in 1850. After living in Rock Island, Illinois, for a year, they settled in Pepin County, Wisconsin, taking up their home in Bogus Valley. There the parents spent the remainder of their days, having achieved by hard work and frugality a position of influence and importance in the community. Thomas P. Huleatt spent his youth on the home farm, and as he grew to manhood determined to devote his life to farming. As a young man he acquired a good farm, which he successfully conducted for many years. He was well thought of in his neighborhood, and occupied a number of local offices in the county and on the school board. After a long and useful career in Pepin County, he came to Whitehall County in 1899, and her resided until his lamented death in 1906. Mr. Huleatt was married, in 1865, in Pepin, Wisconsin, to Maria A. Clarke, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1845, and died in 1905. Mr. and Mrs. Huleatt had two children: Clarence F., a merchant in Whitehall, and Eva, the wife of Watson Leitch, a carpenter at Zion City, Illinois. — Franklin Curtiss-Wedge, History of Trempealeau County, Wisconsin (Chicago and Winona: H.C. Cooper, Jr., & Co., 1917), 388.
Clarence Francis Huleatt was born in Pepin County, Wisconsin, March 30, 1866, the son of Thomas and Maria Huleatt. His younger sister was born four years later, in 1870. According to Laura Ingalls Wilder, her parents and the Huleatts were close friends, and Ma and Mrs. Huleatt speculated that Laura and Clarence would someday marry. In her unpublished Pioneer Girl manuscript, Laura wrote that even while seeing Almanzo in De Smet, she and Clarence were still corresponding after almost ten years apart, and if Almanzo did ask her to marry him, she would say no because of Clarence! Like Laura, Clarence trained as a teacher, and he served as principal of a school in the same county where De Smet’s first school superintendent, Amos Whiting, had been superintendent before moving to Dakota.
At age thirty, Clarence married Mary Shane, a fellow educator in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin, where Clarence was teaching. The couple had no children. Shortly after his marriage, Clarence left teaching and went into the hardware business; he also served as the local undertaker. In 1899, Clarence’s parents, Thomas and Maria Huleatt, and his sister Eva, left Pepin to live near the couple in Whitehall, Wisconsin.
In 1920, Clarence and Mary moved to Chandler (Maricopa County) Arizona. Clarence continued in the hardware business until his death. He died in Chandler on July 27, 1947, fifteen years after the publication of Little House in the Big Woods. It is not known if Clarence ever knew that his family was mentioned in the book. Mary Huleatt died in 1962. Both are buried in the Mesa City Cemetery, Mesa, Arizona.
From History of Trempealeau County, 1917. Clarence F. Huleatt, secretary and treasurer of the Huleatt Mercantile Co., and a leading merchant of Whitehall, was born in Bogus Valley, near Pepin, Wis., March 30, 1866, son of Thomas P. and Maria A. (Clarke) Huleatt. He was reared on the farm, attended the district schools of Pepin County, and graduated from the River Falls State normal School, in 1892. Thus prepared, he taught school for several years, part of which time he was principal of the Whitehall schools. In the spring of 1897 he and L.M. Ekern became owners of the hardware and furniture store of Peterson & Ekern, at Whitehall, under the firm name of Huleatt & Ekern. In 1899 Mr. Huleatt bought out his partner’s interest, and with his uncle, Samuel Huleatt, established the firm of Huleatt & Huleatt. In 1900 the Huleatt Mercantile Company was incorporated with a capital stock of $6,000, the officers and owners being: President, Thomas F. Huleatt; treasurer, Samuel H. Huleatt, and secretary, Clarence F. Huleatt. Clarence F. Huleatt is now the secretary and treasurer, and his wife is the president. The firm does a large business in furniture, hardware and appliances, and has a large business in installing heating plants and doing general plumbing work. Mr. Huleatt also conducts a funeral directing department, having taken lectures on undertaking at Milwaukee and St. Paul under the leading embalmers of the country. The building, erected in 1900, occupies a prominent place on Main Street, and is of modern construction, 30 by 80 feet. Mr. Huleatt has been a member of the village council for two years. He has passed through the chairs of the local I.O.O.F. Lodge. His religious affiliations are with the Whitehall Methodist Episcopal church, in which he is a trustee. Mr. Huleatt was married December 23, 1896, to Mary E. Shane, of Modena, county superintendent of schools, Buffalo County, Wisconsin, born March 20, 1864, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth (McEldowney) Shane, natives of Ireland. — Franklin Curtiss-Wedge, History of Trempealeau County, Wisconsin (Chicago and Winona: H.C. Cooper, Jr., & Co., 1917), 388-389.
Less is known of Eva J. Huleatt. Laura Ingalls Wilder describes her as a pretty girl who kept her clothes clean, thus appealing more to sister Mary than to Laura. Eva was the same age as Carrie Ingalls, so she was four years old when the Ingallses left the Big Woods.
Eva J. Huleatt was born in Pepin County in January 1870, and she lived at home until after her father’s death in January 1906. On March 7, 1906, Eva married Watson D. Leitch (born 1870), son of Alexander and Sarah Jane (Fuller) Leitch of Maiden Rock, Wisconsin. Watson was a carpenter in Zion City (Lake County) Illinois, and the couple settled in Zion City. They had two children: Ruth (born 1910) and John (born 1912).
By the time of the 1930 census, Eva was a widow, living in Zion City and working as a smoother in a curtain factory. Enumerated with her was daughter Ruth, age 20, a stenographer. Nothing further is known about the family at this time.
Thomas & Maria (BW 10)
Clarence (BW 10; PG)
dance at Mr. Huleatt’s (PG)
Eva (BW 10; PG)
Summer Hill (PG)