When I was growing up, my father, Eliot, told me that his
grandfather, Oliver Fairfield Wadsworth, Jr., heard Horace Greeley's
advice, "Go West, Young Man" and that he did. I knew he had
settled in Great Falls, Montana. I knew his sons, Oliver Fairfield
III and Eliot, moved back to
Boston, while my grandmother, Zylpha Mary (Dit), met my grandfather at Glacier National Park
and came back with him to Wisconsin.
I knew that his wife's name was Rose, and that they were friends with
Russell, but that was all I knew until I began corresponding with my
fathers cousins, Oliver Fairfield Wadsworth IV (Waddy) and Eliot M.
Wadsworth in October of 2009.
Eliot was kind enough to answer my questions of "What sort of work
did he do?" and "How did his sons get back to the East Coast?" in an
e-mail on October 19, 2009.
"What I know, or think I know, it that Oliver went to college in
Boston, maybe a mix of Harvard and MIT, and then went to Montana
representing Boston investors interested in participating in the big
mining/minerals boom going on there, including coal, copper, etc.
About 5 years ago, I went to a wedding in great Falls and took the
opportunity to search out the family home, a tall, wood frame
structure which is still standing on a point of land at the
northeast corner of the city, overlooking what is not a very
channelized Missouri River.
"The local newspaper archives were not very revealing but did
mention him as one of the active business community in Great Falls,
where I am quite certain he died, I think in 1934-5 while my father,
Eliot, was in law school in Boston. Yes is it my understanding that
both sons, and likely your mother as well, were sent east to school
and college and never went back for any meaningful amount of time.
My father evidently spent a year in bed with typhoid fever when he
was about 10 years old, spent a lot of happy summer days at a place
called Flathead Lake where he evidently enjoyed running speedboats
of some sort, and learned to fly an airplane very early, apparently
because his Dad had some financial or operating role in an airport.
As Waddy will report, all of our old papers include lots of
worthless mining stick certificates.
"Our grandmother was of German extraction, may have actually been
named Muller, which was Anglicized, and was a serious pianist. I
could find no record of her passing but I believe she was no longer
alive when I was born in 1942, but could be wrong."
Waddy added an interesting story about his college football career in
an e-mail on October 20, 2009.
"Oliver F. our Grandfather was a football player. In his
days one did not have to be a giant, physically, to play the game.
He played for Harvard his first year and then decided ,according to
my Father, that M.I.T., the following season, might have a better
team. So he left Harvard and enrolled at M.I.T. After
that season he determined that Harvard would have a better team, so
he returned to Harvard and graduated there in 1891."
Waddy also shared a story about Oliver and Rose in an e-mail to my
father on October 13, 2009.
"Allow me to tell you, both Eliots, just another little story
about our Grand Father in common . Note well I have not written
common Grand Father, because I assure you that this gentleman was
far from being common. The following was told to me by Eliot
Wís Father on a winterís evening in Beverly Farms. According
to him, our Grand Mother, Rose, Oliverís wife was a very devout
roman catholic. In fact my Father, the oldest of the three
children, as a little boy, had to go to church every Sunday in Great
Falls Montana and pump air into the organ so that instrument could
produce its melodious sounds. He did so by peddling a peddle,
attached to a series of pipes which fed air to the organ. Rose
would sing beautifully, which probably identifies the source of all
the musical talent of Eliot W, his son and his siblings.
Roseís husband, Oliver, our Grand Father, according to Eliot Wís
Father would never set a foot inside the church. Indeed the
only time he was adjacent to it was when he designed the tennis
court probably still located on its grounds today. ---- Irrespective
of anyoneís religion whether it be Hindu, Moslem, Budhist or
Catholic or any other religion for that matter. If an
individual passes the Pearly Gates and notices a man measuring out a
tennis court in the heavens of Paradise----That man is our Grand
Waddy also mentioned to me that the Olivers in his family alternated
nicknames by generation between "Ollie" and "Waddy", so this Oliver was
called Waddy as well. I can confirm that because I've seen a
postcard from Charles Russell to him addressed to "Friend Waddy".
All of this discussion piqued my curiosity, and led me to conduct
some Internet searches. In
books.google.com I found a pamphlet produced by the Harvard
University Class of 1892. It was written in 1907 evidently as a
prelude to their 15th reunion, and collected information on their
classmates current endeavors. Here is the entry Oliver, which also
includes a good deal of information on Rose.
OLIVER FAIRFIELD WADSWORTH, JR.
Born at Boston, Massachusetts.
Is still engaged in the real estate and insurance business at
Great Falls, Montana. Was married at Shawano, Wisconsin, November 8,
1899, to Rose Evelyn Miller, daughter of Mathias and Katheryn
Miller. Has one son: Oliver Fairfield, 3d, born at Great Falls,
Montana, June 27, 1904. Home address: 104 Third Avenue Park, Great
Falls, Montana. Business address: McKnight Block, Great Falls,
I had seen a note that Rose was from Wisconsin where I grew up, and
this entry seems to confirm it. Perhaps it wasn't such a stretch
for my grandmother, Dit, to settle in
Wisconsin, if she had relatives here on her mother's side.
I note that Waddy and the pamphlet have different graduating years
assigned to Oliver, perhaps due to his year at M.I.T., but I left it as
the sources indicated. To me it is close enough 100 years on.
I'll leave it to more committed genealogists than I to discover the
(Dad, I think you have a great picture of Oliver and Rose that I need
to scan for this page. I'd also like to get an image of the
postcard from CR.)