HORACE M. DUPEE

Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 15-16

HORACE MOORE DUPEE.  The Dupee family has lived in Boston since early in the seventeenth century.  They were Huguenots, and the original name, Dupuis, was changed by legislation to Dupee.  The original Dupuis was named John, and his son, Charles, was the great-grandfather of Horace M. Dupee.   John Dupee came to Boston soon after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and was an Elder in the old Huguenot Church which once stood in School Street, Boston.  The children of the second and third generations made their home in Walpole and Wrentham, Massachusetts.

Charles, son of John Dupee, was born in Boston in 1734, and died at Wrentham, August 12, 1802.   His wife, Hannah Smith, was born July 16, 1737, in Walpole, and died in April, 1813.  James Dupee, their son, born in Walpole in 1756, died August 13, 1819.  He married Esther Hawes, who was born in Wrentham, and died in Walpole October 28, 1851, at the venerable age of ninety-six years.  James Dupee was a man of unusual intelligence, and was held in high esteem by all who knew him.

Cyrus, son of James Dupee, learned the mercantile business in Boston, and was engaged in the wholesale provision trade in Brighton, a suburb of Boston.  He died there in 1841, leaving eight children.  Three of his sons, Charles B., Cyrus and Horace M. Dupee, have become prominent business men of Chicago.  He was a man of sterling character, devoted to his family, and diligent in business.  The family has for many generations been noted in mercantile circles, and has always maintained a high reputation for integrity.

Horace M. Dupee was born December 13, 1831, at Brighton, Massachusetts.   He was educated in the Boston Grammar Schools.  When he was ten years old his father died, which compelled him to leave school at an early age.  Upon the older children now devolved the support of the family.   In 1848, at the age of seventeen years, the subject of this sketch entered the employ of Carter & Treadwell, wholesale clothing dealers in Boston, and remained with them nearly five years.  He also worked a short time for Edward A. Locke & Company.

In 1854 he came to Chicago, to which place his brother, Charles B. Dupee, had preceded him some six months previously.  Here he became associated with his brother in the provision trade, and their business relations continued nearly seven years.  After that he formed a co-partnership with Asa Worcester, under the firm name of H. M. Dupee & Company, which lasted until the great fire of 1871.  They had been carrying on an extensive wholesale provision business, which was continued by Mr. Dupee alone.  The old store was located on South Water Street, but after the fire he built a shanty on the east side of Michigan Avenue, where the Lake Front Park is now located.  The city gave the merchants of Chicago permission to erect temporary stores on this ground, for which privilege each paid a rental of about $100 per year.  He had been a heavy loser in the fire, but with characteristic Yankee zeal and indomitable courage and perseverance, he rebuilt on the North Side of Kinzie Street, and continued there until 1880.  Then he bought a half-block on the corner of twenty-fifth and La Salle Streets, where he built his warehouses, and where he cured hams and bacon by the “Dupee” process.  The Dupee brand had become so popular throughout the western countries and the Pacific Coast, especially with the people of California, that the product of this house, as well as that made by Charles B. Dupee, was in later years shipped to that territory almost exclusively, and it was impossible to fully supply the demand, although a large addition to his facilities was made by H. M. Dupee in 1890.  The whole buildings now cover a space of 300x120 feet.  Since 1892 he has practically retired from active business, as much of his time is absorbed in caring for his numerous investments, consisting principally of real estate.  In connection with his business, Mr. Dupee has been a member of the Board of Trade for twenty-five years, and has left a clean record in all his transactions with that body, as nothing of a speculative character ever entered into his operations.

In 1868 his success in business enabled him to make preparations for the completion of a permanent home, and he bought land on Woodlawn Avenue, 200x300 feet, at $30 a foot, which he has lived to see increase in value to $300 a foot.  In 1875 he came to live in Kenwood, where he built a handsome residence in 1886.  The house is remarkable in many ways, its situation being not the least.  It was designed by Andrews & Jaques, pupils of Richardson, the celebrated Boston architect.  The hardwood finish and carvings are among the finest that art can devise or money can procure—the “egg and dart” being everywhere present.  This style of ornamentation has been used with the best effects for centuries in Europe.  The spacious mantels show especially beautiful designs in wood carving.  By the suggestions of Mr. and Mrs. Dupee, the house was planned especially for home comfort, and presents many peculiar aspects, inasmuch as no parlor exists in it, while the expansive bed chambers and wardrobes suggest comfort, rather than useless luxury or vain show.  Antique furniture abounds, and adds not a little to the appearance of solidity and durability.  The British and American architectural journals have embodied a description of the house in their pages, and it has often been visited by artists and been copied and photographed by architects.  It stands as a monument to th4e good sense and advanced ideas of its owner.

Mr. Dupee was married, October 1, 1874, in Oak Park, Illinois, to Miss Elizabeth Robinson Buchanan, a daughter of John S. and Mabel Ann (Robinson) Buchanan.   The latter was the daughter of Dr. Robinson, of Dublin, Ireland.  She died in 1890, aged seventy-five years.  John S. Buchanan died in 1875, at the age of sixty years.  He formerly resided in Strathroy, near London, Canada, and came to Chicago in 1853.  Mrs. Dupee was educated in Chicago, where she has a host of friends.  She loves the quiet of her home life, where she dispenses hospitality with rare grace and courtesy.  Mr. Dupee is the father of five children:  Leroy Church Dupee, Cherrie Mabel, William Harold, Margaret Buchanan and Horace Fawcett.  The eldest, Leroy C., is the fruit of a former marriage of Mr. Dupee to Cornelia Church, who died in 1872.   She was a native of Hudson, New York, and a daughter of Leroy Church, formerly editor of the Christian Times, of Chicago.   Mr. Dupee comes from a long-lived race, noted for its sanguine temperament and sunny nature, both of which he has inherited.  He has been a member of the Chicago Club for ten years, has been for many years a member of the Washington Park Club, and is now identified with the Kenwood, Hyde Park and Review Clubs.  He has, by diligence and integrity, acquired a comfortable competence, and enjoys life by participating in rational and social pleasures, and may now look back upon a useful and well-spent life and a successful business career.

-- Submitted by Sherri Hessick   (thessick@flash.net)