Does The Name Shattuck Ring a Bell?
by Sharon Swenson

Having grown up in northeastern Iowa, I suppose you could say I'm a transplanted Iowan now living in Minnesota. For over 16 years now, I've lived in the Wanamingo area, and would venture to say I've become as much a part of the local fixtures as any of the natives. My occasional visits to the old home town convince me more and more that Minnesota has truly become my home - nearly all of the familiar faces are gone. At 34, I have already become one of a forgotten generation.

I believe it was during the time one of the Humphrey sons attended Shattuck in Faribault that I first heard of that school. I remember wondering at the time about the origin of the name Shattuck. Most people probably never give it a second thought, but to me it rang a familiar bell.

One of my good school-year friends was named Shattuck. In fact, there were three Shattuck children that I knew quite well. The family grew up in a majestic old brick farm home about one mile west of Waukon, Iowa - our home town. The father, mother and grandmother I remember also, having spent many hours in the home enjoying good food and hospitality. And so naturally, I wondered about the origin of the name of Shattuck School. I had known for years that the first settlers on the site of Waukon, Iowa were George C. Shattuck and his sons Scott, Pitt and Nelson in August of 1849. Recently my interest was rekindled as I paged through some old history books on northeastern Iowa, and reread the Shattuck story. I decided to send a letter of inquiry to the school and settle the question if the families were of the same ancestry.

The reply that I received stated that the school was named after a George C. Shattuck of Boston who never lived in Minnesota, but was an early benefactor of the school through his friendship with Bishop Whipple. Certainly there could have been two men by the same name, but since the Iowa Shattucks originated from the same area, it seems rather unlikely. In any event, perhaps you will enjoy the story of this Shattuck pioneer family.

George C. Shattuck was born Sept. 19, 1787(1) He was said to be adventuresome by nature, and claimed to have pitched his tent on the site of Chicago when no one but Indians inhabited that region. In 1849, he came to northeast Iowa, which at that time was a wild, unsettled country. The many creeks, thick timber and bountiful wild grass impressed him, so he found a choice site and drove in his stake.

After he had his claim, he made enough hay for the following winter and returned to the settlement for his family. In September, he built a hay shanty for his family's protection until a log cabin could be erected. The cabin that was constructed shortly thereafter stood until just before the turn of the century.

Immigration set in at a rapid pace about this time, and the need for a county seat was seen. There were differing opinions on where the county should be located, and out of this situation Shattuck saw his opportunity. He invited the decision making group to his claim area and showed them the rich soil, abundant grass and thick forests. They were also treated to a lavish meal of tastefully prepared venison.

It seems the deciding factor was his offer of 40 free acres of his claim provided the county seat be located upon it. Needless to say, the stake for county seat was driven there that day.

Soon a crude courthouse stood on the spot. It measured 10 X 14 feet, and was constructed of poplar logs with the chinking between daubed with mud. A board floor was the only luxury therein. When the judge came to town, he ate at the table of "Father Shattuck," and, as was common, slept on the floor.

In October of 1870, 21 years after he arrived, George Shattuck left Waukon driving his own horse team at the age of 86 years!(2) It seems he was searching for new horizons and adventure. Upon the occasion of his departure, he had the following message printed in the local paper:

"I am about to leave Waukon, and it may be permanently. I wish to say goodbye to all my friends here. Being the first to settle here, I have seen this county pass through wonderful changes during the last 20 years - the wilderness of the prairie changed to rich and fruitful farms - and Waukon grown from nothing to one of the finest villages of the state." "One by one I have seen settlers make their homes here. Many of them I have learned to love as friends. And so, as I leave you, I wish to bid you goodbye, hoping that God will bless you, and prosperity and happiness may be the portion of all."
Truly Yours,
G.C. Shattuck

He returned to visit Waukon once more in 1875, and died in 1876.

G.C. Shattuck gravestone - photo taken by Nancy Shattuck, 2004 G.C. Shattuck gravestone - photo taken by Nancy Shattuck, 2004

G.C. Shattuck grave
Greenwood cemetery, Platteville, Wisconsin; Seeley family plot.

Land selected by Father Shattuck was formally claimed and occupied by his sons, Scott, Pitt and Nelson (3) They apparently inherited their father's adventuresome spirit.

In 1850, Scott went to Dubuque for supplies, and never returned. Pitt went after him(4) and found that his brother had been taken with "gold fever" and left for California. Instead of returning home, he decided to give it a try himself, and took off for California too.

In 1853, after three years, Scott returned to Waukon and erected a large hotel. Pitt returned later in 1857 and disposed of all his property. He then returned to California where he was later murdered at the hands of assassins.(5)

In 1862, Scott formed a company of cavalry in Allamakee County, of which he was commissioned captain. In 1865, he resigned his post and returned to a home he built in Waukon before the war.

About 1869, he moved to Kansas where he was elected to the legislature. He revisited Waukon in 1907 for a reunion of the members of the cavalry company, and died at his home in Kansas two years later.

In the process of satisfying my curiosity, I hope I have created some interest in the Shattuck name. It is certainly appropriate that such a fine school should be named after such a courageous pioneer family. [Of course, it is not a proven fact that it was the same G.C. Shattuck involved, although it would seem he was certainly of the same family.](6)

- notes and corrections, by Nancy Shattuck (up-dated 10/16/2002)
1. George Clinton Shattuck of Waukon, Iowa was born on September 8, 1786.
2. He was 84 years old when he left Waukon.
3. G.C. Shattuck had four sons: Nelson, Monroe, Scott and Pitt in that order. Monroe and Nelson are not mentioned in this article. Nelson, according to census record, left Iowa in 1859 and moved to Wisconsin where he lived out his life. He bought a small area of land in Waukon but was not part of the deeding of the 40 acres. He disposed of his land before leaving Waukon.
4. Pitt was murdered by two Indians about January of 1863 near Lake Osakis, MN. He was on a fur trading and trapping expedition. He was living in Waukon in the Fall of 1850 but Scott was not there according to census record. He is also described as having participated in the first 4th of July celebration in Union Prairie in 1850 according to Ellery Hancock’s book, Past and Present of Allamakee County, Iowa, page 212. It is possible that Pitt went to California the following Spring of 1851. Scott appears to have returned the Fall of 1852 according to recollection in Hancock’s book, page 216.
5. Pitt was not present in 1854 for deeding the 40 acres for the county seat. Scott acted on Pitt’s behalf (Hancock, page 316). Pitt was found in census record living in Waukon in 1856 and may have returned by 1855 as his western addition was surveyed during that year. He was found living in Waukon in 1856 according to census record. He left sometime after 1857, according to recollection in Hancock’s book, disposing of all of his possessions. The western addition was left behind. It is a fact that he moved to Minnesota, not California and got married around 1858-59. He settled in the Hutchinson area and finally Minneapolis. His son, William Pitt Shattuck and my grandfather was born on July 13, 1860 in Hutchinson, MN. Monroe Shattuck moved to California sometime before 1854 and stayed. He lived in the Santa Cruz County, CA area and then moved to Kern County, CA in 1877 and lived the remainder of his life there. He had three sons. Pitt’s western addition, platted in 1857 was left unclaimed by an heir until my father, William Pitt Shattuck, II, acquitted the property in association with a lawyer from Waukon in 1940 at the age of 18.

Also there is a note to be made about the Shattuck family referred to by the author of the article. When G. C. Shattuck left Waukon, he was the last surnamed member of his family to live there. Lyman Shattuck, who migrated to Waukon from Vermont and married Elizabeth Clark, would probably have been the ancestor of the Shattucks that the author had known. To my knowledge, there is no direct connection to the G.C. Shattuck line.
6. Since all Shattucks are presumably descended from William Shattuck (b 1621, England, d. 1672, Watertown, MA), the namesake of the Shattuck School is indeed of the same family. She was referring to George Cheyne Shattuck, a Boston physician, who contributed funds to the Shattuck School and he is the namesake of that school.


- source: Red Wing Republican; Red Wing, Minnesota; by Sharon Swenson, Correspondent; May 6, 1978
- permission granted to reproduce this article for the Allamakee IAGenWeb, by Michael J. Kuehn, General Manager Red Wing Republican, July 2002.
- gravestone photos taken by Nancy Shattuck, summer 2004
- submitted by: Nancy A. Shattuck, Great Granddaughter of "Pitt" Shattuck. Nancy is researching George C. Shattuck, his wife Anna and their children, as well as her great grandfather, Pitt Shattuck.

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