The Lutz Family of Ramsey

Anne Lutz (1906-1996) Jacob's Ladder Quilt, late nineteenth century

The Ramsey Historical Society owns this Jacob's ladder red and white quilt. It was made by Anne Lutz's grandmother. Anne was the daughter of Frank E. and Martha Brobson Lutz. The family lived at 13 North Central Avenue in Ramsey, New Jersey. This post is about the Lutz family and Anne. The next will be about the quilt and its maker.

The Lutzes had four children: Anne, Eleanor, Frank, and Laura.

Playing outside the Ramsey home.

Frank Lutz with his four children, Anne, Eleanor, Laura, and Frank.

Frank was an entomologist and curator at the American Museum of Natural History, where during his long tenure he increased the museum's collections of insects and spiders from 300,000 to more than 2 million. Many of the specimens were collected on his annual field trips to various locations in Central and Southern America. Lutz was an accomplished author and editor for various scientific publications. On some occasions his wife, Martha, accompanied him on the trips in the US including Colorado, Arizona, and Florida. In 1937 they were on a trip with Cornell University scientists following the spring migration of birds and recording their songs. Family members claim that most of the royalties made from his publication, The Fieldbook of Insects went towards the education of the four Lutz children.

Plate 1 from Lutz, Fieldbook of Insects, 1921, digitized by the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Following in their father's footsteps, catching insects with a net.

In an early Christmas photo we see Anna trying on a large boot; a doll baby waits in the carriage; and the stockings are hung with care.

Frank and his wife Martha by the back yard pool.

In the 1920's Frank Lutz pioneered a movement to open the nation's first guided nature trail in Harriman State Park at Dr Lutz's Station for the Study of Insects (SSI) in cooperation with the Palisades Interstate Park. All of the Lutz children, especially Anne and Frank, assisted with the operation of SSI. The nature trail concept quickly spread to parks across the country. Another young summer volunteer at SSI was David Rockefeller Sr. who would develop a lifelong interest in entomology. His business travels across his lifetime allowed Rockefeller to assemble one of the world's most renowned beetle collections, now at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

Rockefeller is on the left in the photo above.

Anne was an English teacher at Ramsey High School and a folklorist who along with fellow Ramsey High School teacher and friend, Doris Parvin, collected folk songs and children's rhymes in the eastern Ramapo Mountains (Bergen County, New Jersey and Rockland County, New York). Anne's collected songs and early wire recordings came at a critical time in the mid 1940s when the traditional balladeers were quickly passing away. In 60 years of collecting, Anne had written down or recorded more than 130 folk songs. Some of her recordings reside in the Folklore collection of the Library of Congress. Lutz descendants are currently trying to track down the whereabouts of the rest of Anne's notes and recordings. In a 1989 news article, Prof. Angus Gillespie a folklorist at Rutgers University was quoted as saying, "Lutz is probably the only person alive who trooped though the hills in northern New Jersey in time to capture disappearing ballads brought from the British Isles."

Anne was also a local historian and an active member of the Ramsey Historical Society, where she donated this quilt. More next time about this quilt and the maker.

Daniel Whitten, Anne's great nephew, provided information and shared the family photos that were preserved by Anne in hopes that they would be of interest to future generations.

Daniel Whitten and Peggy W. Norris

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