Della Thompson Lutes was born in 1872 to Elijah and Almira F. Bogardus Thompson at Jackson, Michigan. She graduated from Jackson High School. At age 16, Lutes became a teacher in the Jackson County School District and also taught in Detroit City Schools. She wrote a book called Just Away as well as several articles for Detroit newspapers, attracting more than local interest.
In 1907, Della moved to Cooperstown, New York, to become editor of a ladies journal called American Motherhood. She later became editor of Table Talk and Today’s Housewife. In 1924, Della became housekeeping editor and director of the Proving Plant of Modern Priscilla of Boston, Massachusetts. From there, she went on to become an acknowledged authority on housekeeping topics.
Della’s best-selling book, Country Kitchens, was published in 1936. Several other popular books followed, including: Home Grown (1937), Mill Brook (1938), Gabriel’s Search (1940), and The Country School Ma’am (1941). She completed Cousin William for publication just before her demise in 1942.
Della was also a familiar contributor to many of the leading magazines of the 1930s and 1940s, such as: Reader’s Digest, The Atlantic Monthly, American Mercury, and Woman’s Day, among others.
Recognized as a writer of clarity, vigor, beauty, and humor, she brought her childhood to life for numerous readers. She was a woman of charm, a brilliant conversationalist, and was devoted to her family and friends.
On July 6, 1893, Della married Louis I. Lutes (1870-1921) in Detroit, Michigan. Together, they had two sons: Ralph (1894-1901), who died at age 7 after being accidentally shot by a classmate, and Robert B. (1897-1943), an art editor of Today’s Housewife. Upon his demise, Robert left a wife and five children.
Della T. Lutes died on July 4, 1942 of a heart attack. (This information is from the collection.)