Nauvoo, Illinois. -- A Dutchess pear tree is all that marks the sight of the George Y. Cutler tombstone in Nauvoo today. This spot is located in the yard owned by Mrs. Mary Schenk in the first Ward, and is just a few feet northwest of her brick home.
In 1830, just 12 years after Illinois had been admitted into the union, George Y. Cutler had made Hancock County treasurer. He was one of the first of judges of the first election held in Hancock County and was one of the first county commissioners, when the first post office was established in Hancock County on March 13, 1830, it was located in Venus which is now Nauvoo. Here at that time were only three buildings, the home of George Y. Cutler; the trading post of Alexander White; and the residence of his father. The Venus was named for Captain James White, the first permanent White settler and this area.
Cutler, a native New England, served as Justice of the Peace and preformed the marriage ceremony of Hugh White and Emeline Hibbard. Cutler was a well educated man, a graduate and Yale college, had studied law, and had been a merchant in New York City before coming west. Cutler died Sept. 3, 1834, at Nauvoo, just five years before the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, and his followers arrived in this vicinity.
On October 11, 1834, the name of the post office was changed from Venus to Commerce with Mary Ann Cutler as the first postmistress. This City of Commerce was laid out by Joseph B. Teas and Alexander White in 1834.
Information supplied by Miss Mary Siegfried of Denver, Illinois states that George Y. Cutler estate stands 6th of entry on the probate court's, date of Sept. of 1834. Miss Siegfried also supplied the information regarding the sight of Cutler's tune taken from the deed records of Hancock County plat book one, as laid out by James Brattle county surveyor, as follows: "Lot 5 of block 70 and Lot 5 of block 104 are reserved as private burying grounds. The center of the head stone to Mrs. and Wilson's grave is a center of the tract reserved as a graveyard which is 165 feet north and south and 132 feet east and west. The center of a wall the enclosure called Cutler's tune, is the center of the other reserve which is 64 feet N. S. E., and west."
Mail, Small Salary.
A Map of Illinois Shows That Venus, Now Nauvoo, and Fort Edwards, Warsaw, were the only towns in Hancock County and 1833 and the two places were competing for the county seat that year. The town of Venus was on three general mail routes according to Miss Siegfried as follows:
Route 1 -- Venus to Quincy, via Bear Creek, Whitney Grove, Montebello and back to Venus. One trip per week Wesley Williams of Venus mail carrier. Salary $156. per year. On July 17, 1833, Carthage was included in the route.
Route II -- Venus to Shokekon, Rock Island, Galens and back to Venus. John E. Jeffers of Quincy, mail carrier. Salary $800. For the year.
Route III -- Lewistown to Bennington, Macomb, Fountain Green, to Venus. William Keys of Quincy, mail carrier. Salary per year $299.
When that George Y. Cutler store was sold at auction it required three days to dispose of merchandise. The articles auctioned included such items as 38 yards of red shrouding (bought by Mrs. Cutler).
The Mary Schenk property is bounded on the north by Cutler Street. This road, no longer open to the public, was named for George Y. Cutler. On the south, the Schenk property is bordered by Young Street, named for Brigham Young; on the east by Partridge Street, named for Bishop Edward Partridge, who was also a Mormon; and on the west by Carlin Street which is now closed.
Miss Siegfried suggests that a marker be placed on the history site for Cutler's grave is listed in Gregg's history of Hancock County and 1880 as follows: "Cutler's grave, surrounded by a wall of stone, is still an object of note near the bank of the Mississippi River at Nauvoo."
I have it is plausible to assume that when interred the remains of George Y. Cutler were not routes nor were they distended with embalming fluid. They were probably placed in a homemade pine box, built to measure, and trip together with square handmade nails laboriously hammered out.
The stone enclosures surrounding Cutler's grave, remained intact until about half a century ago. Wind, and exposure to the elements, has obliterated all traces of the tomb so that today only a pear tree marks the history spot. And when all is said and Van White could be more appropriate to any tree on his grave for as Joyce Kilmer so beautifully put "a tree that looks at God all day, and lifts her leafy arms to pray."