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.
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.
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.