Mr. Green’s “Gentleman’s Gentleman”

Top Hat, Charles C. Coupe, Walter J. Green, Rutger Park

Hat’s off to you, Mr. Green’s Gentleman’s Gentleman

Object: Hat, Top
Description: Black top hat which belonged to Utica businessman Walter Jerome Green; later given to Charles C. Coupe, Mr. Green’s “gentleman’s gentleman”, and donor’s grandfather.
Date: 1900-1920
Height: 6.25”
Length: 12”

Knox New York, top Hat, label

All the way from New York City

A note about the hat itself:  Inside the hat is a golden label for Knox New York.  A drier, but more detailed report is here.

I was curious about who this “gentleman’s gentleman” might be.  Not being a Utica native, I was also curious about this Mr. Green. 

Mr. Green was easier to find.  A prominent business man, like his father, Walter J. Green worked for 25 years at the Savage Arms Company and also served as President of Utica Investment Company, President of the Utica National Bank, and Director of First National Bank and Trust Company.  If you need a little more biography, check out this neat article put together by Thousand Islands Life.  Incidentally, Walter J. Green lived in an impressive house at Rutger Park that the Landmarks Society now owns.

Mr. Green's House, c. 1910 1986.81.3

Mr. Green’s House, c. 1910

And the “gentleman’s gentleman”?  Born around 1888, the Utica City Directories first list Charles C. Coupe in the early 1910s.  From 1914 to 1922, he is listed as chauffeur.  Charles’ grandson, Steven Coupe described his grandfather’s position as, “caretaker, driver, valet, etc.,” so it is reasonably likely that Charles’ chauffeur position is the “gentleman’s gentleman” for Walter J. Green.  After 1922, Charles is listed as a mechanic and, later, as a mechanical engineer.  It is unclear from these records if Charles continued to work for Mr. Green; however the directories do list Charles C. Coupe as “caretaker” from 1938 to 1940, which, perhaps, indicates that Charles did return to work for Walter J. Green for several years.

The top hat likely dates from 1900-1920, and, according to family oral tradition, it was originally owned by Walter J. Green and given to Charles C. Coupe, the “gentleman’s gentleman,” as a gift.


The Mysterious Faceless Woman

Paper Doll; Paper doll dress; paper hat; CSZ



Object: Paper Doll Dresses
Description: Two sheets of drawing of clothes for a paper doll.
Date: c.1900-1950
Height: 8”
Width: 10 14/16”

Sometimes working in museums or studying history is like being a detective.  I learn new things every day – and sometimes I even find the answers I am looking for.

Today’s objects are more of a mystery than a story I can tell you.  These paper doll dresses were donated to the Oneida County Historical Society in June of 2002.   Here is the description:

“2 Paper doll cut-outs: Each cutout has a doll’s dress and bonnet.  One cut-out is a dress that has four buttons in the front and a purse in the right hand.  The second dress is a decorative slip-dress with a toy pony in the left hand.  The letters CSZ are printed on the bottom of both cutout sheets.  Measurements: 8”x 10 14/16” condition: fair (watermarks, and pencil marks)”

Paper Doll; Paper Doll Dress; the "Miss Delaware Bonnet"; CSZ

“Paper Doll Dress” or “The Mysterious Faceless Woman”
You decide.

The description physically describes the objects, but I still wonder about exactly when these dolls were used or made:

  • The dresses and hats suggest a fashion from sometime between 1880 and 1920.
  • While the hats look like they are made for adults, the slip-dress is carrying a toy; does that mean these are designed for a child paper doll?
  • The “CSZ” signature is also notable.  While a quick google search did not yield me any results, perhaps someone more familiar with paper dolls could identify the name.
  • The “Miss Delaware” Bonnet may be a clue, but, since the Miss Delaware of the Miss America Pageant did not begin competing until 1933, perhaps the name has a different meaning.

Paper dolls were first imported to and printed in the United States in the 1810s.  Originally only available to wealthy children, they slowly became more affordable and rose in popularity throughout the 1800s.  Paper doll popularity peaked between 1930 and 1950.

Do you have any thoughts about where or when these paper dolls came from?  Please leave your suggestions or stories in a comment below or e-mail me at


110 Lowell Ave.

Pietsch; Doll house; 1950s; miniature; living room; television; doll television

Tired of the same old thing on TV?

If you were standing in the living room (and perhaps tired of watching the same old thing on TV), you could push aside the lace curtains and look out the window.  You might enjoy the elegant stained glass windows, rising like mountains in the distance.  But would you find yourself intimidated by the bicycle, just southeast of your current location, that is 3 times the size of the entire house you are standing in?

Pietsch; doll house; 110 Lowell Ave


Such would be the life of an inhabitant of the Walter Pietsch Doll House, on permanent exhibit at the Oneida County Historical Society.

Object: Doll House
Description: Doll house made by Utica cabinetmaker Walter Pietsch.
Date: c. 1930s
Height: 38” foundation to gable
Width: 30” return to return
Depth: 57” front porch step to back porch step
Weight: Unknown – too large for scale

Utica City Directory; Pietsch; 110 Lowell Ave

Walter Pietsch’s address listing.
(Steber Directory of the City of Utica, 1931)

Built in the 1930s as a gift to his daughter, Arletta (Pietsch) Vaeth, Walter Pietsch used the furniture-making and carving skills he learned from his father R. Pietsch to create a miniature replica of the family’s Lowell Avenue home (the small version being adapted into a one-family home instead of a two-family house like the original).

Sanborn map; 1930s; Lowell Ave; Utica

The full-sized, two-family version is located here.
(“Insurance Maps of Utica New York Volume 2 and 3,” Sanborn Map Company, 1925.”)

A favorite of visitors and volunteers, the Walter Pietsch Doll House suffered some damage when the Society’s ceiling collapsed in September 2010.  Dedicated volunteers were able to clean and repair the doll house for the enjoyment of the young and old for ages to come.

Pietsch; Doll house; bedroom

Bedroom with a view and a heck of a drop off.

Pietsch; Doll house;Dining Room; Miniature Grandfather's clock; candle; fake fruit

Complete with fruit on the table.

Pietsch; doll house; 110 Lowell Ave

110 Lowell Ave: Miniature


Because he had an inflamed appendix


R. Pietsch; Carving; Fleur-de-lis; St. Luke's Hospital; School of Nursing; Utica


Object: Plaque 
Description: Wooden replica of St. Luke’s Hospital nurse’s pin.
Date: 1936
Diameter: 6.25”
Depth: 0.75”
Weight: 0.25 lbs

Following the artifact trail started by the Pietsch Furniture Oil Bottle, I found a reference to an object in our collection:

“When Reinhold was 73 years old, he told the Doctor that his side was very painful because his appendix was inflamed.  Sure enough, the Doctor found an inflamed appendix when he operated.  He was so grateful for the fine nursing care that he carved this replica of a nurse’s pin for Mae Emma Burroughs [Mae Belle Burrows].  It was signed R. Pietsch, 1936, and is now at the Oneida Historical Society, Utica, New York.”  (Margaret Pietsch, “The Woodcarver: Reinhold Pietsch 1862-1946,” 1989, p. 28.)

St. Luke's Hospital; Whitesboro St.; Utica, NY

St. Luke’s Hospital on Whitesboro St.

Mae Burrows was a graduate of St. Luke’s, Class of 1933.  From 1888-1949 St. Luke’s Hospital ran a training school that graduated 602 registered nurses.  The wooden replica Reinhold Pietsch carved is based on the school pin St. Luke nurses wore, which Florence Nightingale designed in the late 1880s.  (“The Last Class,” Utica Observer-Dispatch, December 8, 2002, p. 3C)

St. Luke's Hospital; School of Nursing

Mae Burrows is not in this photograph – she graduated 16 years earlier.
However, notice the pin in the center with the fleurs-de-lis design that bears a remarkable resemblance to R. Pietsch’s carving. (“The Last Class,” Utica Observer-Dispatch, December 8, 2002, p. 3C)

Let’s see if I can find something little to share with you tomorrow.

Yes, even better than new!

Object: Bottle
Description: 1 bottle of furniture oil with a little left in it.
Date: 1921 – 1970s
Height: 8.5”
Circumference: 8.5”
Weight: 0.875 lbs.

To be a little more specific, it is a clear glass bottle with a short fluted neck leading to a metal screw cap.  There is still ¾” of an amber liquid in the bottom and in the center of the bottle is a black-bordered label reading:

R. Pietsch & Sons, Inc.
902 Shaw Street
Utica, N. Y.

R. Pietsch & Sons, Inc.; Furniture Oil; Furniture Store;

Saving some for posterity.

If you’re from the Utica area, you’re probably familiar with the Pietsch name.  After working for years as a wood carver and cabinet maker, Reinhold Pietsch founded R. Pietsch & Sons, Inc. in 1919.  The firm specialized in repairing antique furniture and creating well-made handcrafted furniture.  Want to know more about Reinhold Pietsch?  Check out this book excerpt supplied by the Schenectady County Public Library.

R. Pietsch & Sons, Inc., Utica Furniture

Ad, Steber Directory of the City of Utica

Every archival reference – and our own OCHS volunteer’s personal testimony – attests to R. Pietsch & Sons, Inc.’s dedication to quality.  Perhaps their furniture oil was sold to help clients maintain that level of quality.  Based on the label, the bottle dates from sometime between 1921 and the 1970s.

Maybe the bottle is from the ‘30s when folks might not have had the money to buy new:

“Your old furniture can be made like new, yes even better than a new piece if you have R. Pietsch & Sons, 902 Shaw Street, do the work. The reason it is better than new is that every repaired article is first thoroughly studied to decide the weak points, which are corrected.”  (Utica Observer-Dispatch. June 10, 1936.)

piano; R. Pietsch & Sons, Inc.

“There will be a shortage of pianos.”

Or, it could be from the 1940s, when it was your patriotic duty to preserve and reuse your old furniture:

“Salvage for victory does not just mean that you collect all the old metal and papers you can find. It means also that you make many of your present articles do until after the war, according to R. Pietsch & Sons, Inc. 902 Shaw St., who emphasize that his program need not create any great hardship. Your present furniture can be made over so as to be exactly like new.” (Utica Observer-Dispatch. May 6, 1946.)

Stay tuned for a little something more from the Pietsch family in the next few days.


“Nothing would interest the younger people so much as a cannon ball…”

  • Object: Cannonball
  • Description: Cannonball found in 1849 or 1850 while excavating for the Aqueduct to carry the Erie Canal over Oriskany Creek at Oriskany, N.Y.
  • Date: 1777
  • Circumference: 13.5 in.
  • Weight: 8.7 lbs.


This cannonball is listed as object #706 on page 535 of the early ledger.  One of eleven cannonballs in our collection, a couple letters from 1911 explain how this cannonball came to the Oneida County Historical Society:

July 8, 1911

Mr. W. Pierrepont White, Utica, N.Y.
Dear Sir:-
…I have a cannon ball which was brought to light about 1850 when excavating for the foundations of the aqueduct across the creek at Oriskany, which I would be glad to donate to the Oneida Historical Society, should they care for it.
Very truly yours,
(signed) Geo. H. Graham

July 10, 1911

George H. Graham, Oriskany, N.Y.
My dear Mr. Graham:
Thank you for your letter of July 8th.  I tried to reach you on the telephone this morning, to put it in the Press, as it is letters of this sort that bring this battlefield to the attention of the public, and particularly to the school children.

I have sent a copy of your letter to the Oneida Historical Society, making the offer of the gift of the cannon ball.  Nothing would interest the younger people so much as a cannon ball taken from a battlefield, and I am sure the Historical Society will bemost glad to welcome the donation.

Assuring you of the pleasure that your letter and offer have given me, and assuring you of my esteem, I am
Very truly yours,
(signed) Wm. Pierrepont White

Why was the cannonball found in Oriskany?  In August 1777, 800 militia men and 60 allied Oneida warriors fought there against the Senecas, Mohawks, British, and loyalists in an important Revolutionary War battle.  For more information, check out the National Park Service website or visit the site and monument when it opens in the spring.



Not just for poolside fun.