Memories of Dutton’s Island

By Richard Houghton Morrison

The island is located in Umbagog Lake in Errol, New Hampshire. My grandfather Harry Dutton built a camp on this island 1898-1905. I was told that the cost to build the camp was around $105,000, which today would be in the millions.

I am Richard Houghton Morrison, the last living grandchild of Harry Dutton. My mother was Alice Dutton Morrison, youngest daughter of Harry. I spent every summer at the island from age six months to seventeen years old.

I am going to take you on a written tour of the island as I remember it.

We used to land our boat at the inlet on the east side of the island. Located there was a wooden wharf and granite steps to the island.

The main house was on the right and straight ahead was the ice house. This was a building approximately 20′ by 30′. Inside was a bulkhead that contained sawdust. In the winter, workers would cut out blocks of ice to be used in the two large ice chests located in a pantry off the kitchen. The ice blocks were stored in sawdust.

We will now proceed south to a building called the Guides’ Camp. As you entered this building you were in a hall. In a room on the left were two large Kohler diesel-driven generators that delivered DC current for the lights at the camp. Two rooms on the right housed gasoline-engine-driven water pumps. These pumps pumped water from the lake to a large tank located near the top of the lighthouse. The water from the tank fed the flush toilets and sinks located in the five bathrooms. It also fed the sinks located in the kitchen and pantry. Moving down the hall, a utility room was on the left and on the right was a bathroom, and then stairs to the attic that was used for storage. At the end of the hall there was a large living room with a big potbelly stove in the middle.

There were four bedrooms and two were located on either side of the living room. The help lived here and had their meals in the kitchen of the main house.

We will now head north to the main house. When we arrived for the summer we would always enter the house through the kitchen. You entered the pantry that contained the two large ice chests, one on either side.

We now proceed into the large kitchen; countertops on the left, large sink at the end. In the middle of the back was a large, black, iron, wood-burning stove with two ovens controlled by a damper in the flue. The west wall had various cabinets and a door to the porch. On the north side was a very large table and chairs where the help ate. Next to the table was a doorway entering into a large pantry that contained a sink and many cabinets. Also located here was the maid-calling station. From this pantry on and throughout the entire camp, only cherry wood and tulip wood was used on all walls and ceilings.

We now enter the dining room through swinging doors. The dining room had a large table that could be enlarged with leaves. We used the table at its smallest size (eight chairs). It could be enlarged to seat sixteen. Windows on the west side afforded a beautiful view of the lake and mountains. On the east side was a large fireplace with a lovely mantel piece. The ceiling in this room and the living room was sixteen feet high.

I am now going to take you to the front door entering the living room. I can better explain this room from the entrance. As you entered this room you were looking at a huge fireplace with a large bull moose mounted over it. To the left was a tall music box that played large, round, metal disks with holes in them. On this side of the room was the door to Harry and Alice’s bedroom. Next was a large, red velvet couch with ornate gold armrests. Next to this was a large piano and as we turned the corner a cabinet holding cue sticks and pool equipment was located here next to the fireplace. On this side of the room was a standard-sized pool table. Continuing on past the fireplace you came to the open entrance to the dining room. On the west wall were chairs, tables and lamps. One chair of interest was Harry’s buffalo chair done in an off-red leather with actual buffalo horns. An L-shaped couch with large cushions was in the corner. On this side of the room were many chairs and tables. Around the periphery of the room about ten feet up were deer heads, lynx heads, stuffed fish and many other animal heads. A stuffed black bear cub was located next to the fireplace on the right. The cub held an ashtray in his paws.


We will now proceed into Harry and Alice’s bedroom, which was off the living room. This was a large bedroom with twin beds, two large bureaus, a table with a lamp between the beds and a large fireplace. The master bath had a tub, fireplace, sink and a flush toilet. Off of this bedroom was Harry’s den and office. This room was small and had a fireplace with a bench seat on either side, somewhat like a booth at a restaurant, but larger. On the other side of the left bench seat was a large rolltop desk. Harry had a back door in this room so he could leave without being disturbed. Next to this room was a large walk-in closet.

Next was a corner bedroom with twin beds, dresser, table, private bath and a walk-in closet. This was the bedroom I slept in. This room also had a fireplace.

We now proceed to four similar bedrooms, all with brass double beds, dressers, walk-in closets and a fireplace. These rooms shared two bathrooms. The end bedroom was larger with a double bed, private bath, fireplace, dresser, tables and a walk-in closet. All bedrooms had their own door leading to the large wrap-around porch. The porch had five large stairways to the ground, one on the east, two on the north and two on the west.

A double door entrance at ground level near the wharf led you into a storage area that ran under the porch around the entire periphery of the camp. In here were canoes, rowboats, wood storage piles, boxes, boxes of clay pigeons for skeet, and many other miscellaneous items.

The entire U-shaped main house had a large porch all around it. The northwest corner of the porch had a walkway to the lighthouse. The lighthouse was built to house a large water tank near the top. As you walked into the lighthouse, you entered a room with all kinds of closets and cabinets that were used for storage. On the left of the the room was a stairway that circled around the water tank and took you to a room at the top of the lighthouse. This room had a large light that was used as a beacon at night. There was a circular walkway around the top of the lighthouse, with a great view in any direction.


Richard E. Pinette, Northwoods Echoes (the author, 1986), 15-20:
— The Ojibway was 30′ long, not 26′.
— The solid brass cannon was mounted on a steamboat named the Valantta.
— The stone watchtower was actually called the lighthouse.
— There was not any pipe laid across the lake to Tyler Cove. Drinking water came from a natural spring located in B Cove. A wooden trough was installed from the spring to the edge of the lake. Five-gallon cart boys were filled here.

Joseph Crook Anderson II, The Duttons of Glen Rock, Malden, Massachusetts: An Updated Account (the author, 2013), 74-78:
— Richard H. Morrison was born in 1931.
— The main house on Dutton’s Island was U-shaped, not circular. Harry and Alice’s bedroom was located next to the living room in the front of the camp.
— The room off the master bedroom was not a card room. See my description above.
— The living room had only one large fireplace.
— The porch extended to the lighthouse at the northwest corner.
— My grandfather had a telephone line laid on the bottom of the lake to Tyler Cove. The line then ran to the lake house hotel in Upton, Maine.


B. F. Dutton Commemorative Plate

I was recently contacted by Mr. Stephen Jerome of Boston about a decorative plate that he recently acquired. He bought the plate at a yard sale in Jamaica Plain from a vendor of various china objects who had his wares spread out on a blanket on the grass. Mr. Jerome has graciously allowed me to post a photograph of it on this blog.

BFD plate

The plate carries the date of October 14, 1913, which was Benjamin F. Dutton’s 82nd birthday, so it was apparently produced  in commemoration of that occasion. I don’t know the identity of “C.H.T.” who gave B. F. Dutton the plate. The picture in the center of the plate is of the Dutton homestead in Hillsboro, New Hampshire, where B. F. Dutton was born. This is most likely the property that B. F. Dutton’s grandfather, Jeremiah Dutton, had purchased in 1802, and it remained in the family well into the twentieth century, known into modern times as the Dutton Farm.

In its issue of Oct. 16, 1913, p. 4, The Boston Globe took notice of the prominent businessman’s birthday:

Malden, Oct. 15–Benjamin Franklin Dutton of Glen Rock, a founder of the firm of Houghton & Dutton Co. of Boston, is receiving congratulations upon reaching his 82d birthday, which came yesterday. Although there was no formal observance of the occasion, Mr. Dutton received numerous remembrances from friends, relatives and business associates.

Mr. Dutton is active and spends a few hours each day at his place of business in Boston. He is an enthusiastic baseball fan and witnessed many games in Boston the past season. He is a native of Hillsboro, N.H., and has lived in this city 33 years. He has 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

It would appear that Mr. Jerome’s plate was one of the “numerous remembrances from friends, relatives and business associates” to mark the auspicious occasion.