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Horatia, known by the nickname "Tip," was born in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, probably in an apartment building on Lee Street in what is now the heart of a Hasidic Jewish neighborhood. She was undoubtedly baptized at the Christ Church, where her parents are known to have attended. Oral history says that she was given her middle name by the minister at her baptism, apparently without consulting her parents about it. Blanche was supposedly his mother's name, but various records show that it was not his mother but a daughter who had that name. Later this same year her parents decided to move out of the city to a farm of the Hudson River in Tarrytown. Her father died when she was a little over a year old when he was unloading their household goods at the Tarrytown pier. The family ended up in Montclair, New Jersey. It's possible that Tip attended Pratt University in Brooklyn, because she was teaching there by the time she was 24 (1889), perhaps earlier. Her specialty was wood carving.
     The following article was printed in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, describing an open-house and exhibition at Pratt: (1)

"Leaving the industrial-design studios, we come to a room where numerous specimens of work indicate very good results in wood-carving. In addition to instruction in the use and care of tools, and in technical methods in wood-carving, the student [in general] is required in the two-year course to practise free-hand drawing, design, clay-modeling, and to study the principles of construction...These are students of the normal art course. Most of them have had much experience as teachers in public and private schools, or have been engaged in various lines of art work. No other work of the art department is more vitally important than the training of competent teachers of art. The first graduate of the course went out in 1890 [Tip may have completed a course specifically in wood-carving before this], yet already sixty-one are employed in different parts of the country. Some are supervisors of drawing in large cities, others are teachers of drawing in normal schools and in high schools, and directly or indirectly are influencing the work of nearly 5000 teachers and of more than 245,000 students.
     In addition to the general Institute exhibit... there is an alcove showing the work of the women pupils and graduates. The former is a presentation rather of the educational phase of the work; the latter aims to show how, while thoroughly educative, the Institute courses are valuable as a training in the arts and industries by the practice of which women may become self-supporting. The significance of such an exhibit cannot be even suggested in a few words. It is easy to talk sounding words about woman's emancipation. On the floor and walls and in the show-cases of this little room there is the blazon of a great victory. It is here evident that woman has not been crushed out of the battle for bread by the indiscriminating competition of the times. If invention introduced complexity into the industrial system, it also opened the way for woman's taste, skill, and deftness of touch. Almost every piece of work here is in some way connected with the idea of home. Woman's true emancipation, it would seem, does not take her from her mission as the maker and glorifier of home. The exhibit includes work done by women pursuing sixteen different self-supporting occupations learned at the Pratt Institute. The drawings, articles manufactured from students' designs, wood-carvings, dresses, bonnets, etc., cannot here be described. The whole exhibit is highly creditable and very interesting. Of the great host of 2,700,000 women who are making a living in professional or in industrial occupations, 1320 are known to have received their training at the Pratt Institute. From the normal art course have gone out 61 supervisors and teachers of drawing whose annual salaries average $768.06. Graduates from the courses in design, art-needlework, and woodcarving are holding positions as teachers, or are serving as designers in well-known establishments, or are practising their professions independently. Three alumnae of the architectural course hold good positions in an architect's office. Ninety-six of those trained in cookery and laundry work are earning a livelihood, and doubtless exerting an influence for good; for what is more redolent of ethics than a well-cooked steak, or where will you find more character than in a well-laundered shirt-bosom?"

     It's unlikely Tip shared the enthusiasm of the last sentence. The writer was evoking a popular norm. Some of the most noted artists in the United States, especially graphic artists, of the late 19th and early 20th centuries attended Pratt and had bona fide careers. Tip was acquainted with some of those and other prominent artists, probably and partly in connection with the Cornish, New Hampshire, artists colony. Her daughter Virginia said that she knew Maxfield Parrish, who is known to have visited the colony, and a letter Tip wrote to her describes a house she recalled seeing, built for musician Arthur Whiting. This was undoubtedly his house in Cornish, which fits her description.

two examples of Tip's woodcarving (the dragon was unfinished)

Tip probably met Charles Ellingwood in Brooklyn. He and his mother were living in the same neighborhood as Tip, and they all may have attended the Church of the Redeemer at the corner of Pacific and Fifth Streets. Both families had Montclair connections, but how they would have met in that way is less clear. They married at Tip's mother's house, 203 Claremont St. in Montclair, by St. Luke's Episcopal Church. After the marriage, the Cunninghams and Ellingwoods lived in adjacent houses at 78 and 80 Clinton St.
      Tip taught at Pratt up to the time she married, but she gave up her artistic pursuits to move to the suburbs and raise her two daughters. She became active in gardening. Later in life she and the family spent summers at their house in Groton Long Point, CT. Generally she seems to have enjoyed a life of leisure, but it was compromised by her husband's drinking and his extramarital affair. Her daughter Evelyn contracted menengitis at an early age, and ended up with nerve damage from a spinal tap. This altered the course of her life and must have affected Tip greatly as well. Tip also lamented the resentment Evelyn felt towards Virginia, placing that animosity among the several things that she wished would be resolved before she died.

children of Horatia Blanche Cunningham and Charles Hoyt Ellingwood:

i. Evelyn Horatia b. 16 July 1896
ii. Virginia b. 5 June 1898

sources for vital records: Horatia's birth, marriage and death dates are found in private family records. There are no municipal vital records for Williamsburg before the consolidation to form the Borough of Brooklyn. New Jersey records have not been searched to confirm her marriage and death. Her marriage and death were reported in The New York Times (issues of 5 September 1895, p. 5, and 30 December 1947, p. 23, respectively). She is buried in Restland Memorial Park, 77 DeForest Ave., East Hanover, NJ, Olive section, plot 96A.

1. included as a reprint in Gaslight New York Revisited, ed. Frank Appel.

all text and photographs © 1998-2019 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted