Frances Danforth Huntington was born on December 21, 1902, the eldest of four children born to George Danforth Huntington (1875-d. January 9, 1945) and Mary Lorraine (Treadwell) Huntington (1875-d. November 15, 1956).
After attending Miss Liggett’s School in Detroit, which was both prestigious and expensive, Frances traveled to San Bernadino, California, with her two aunts, Jeanette Treadwell and Elizabeth [Treadwell?]. There, she lived there with a third aunt and uncle, and two younger cousins, Sheldon and Frances [Danforth?], from December of 1917 through April of 1918. Her Grandmother Treadwell either lived nearby or in the same house. In California, Frances attended a finishing school, where she studied English, Algebra, Latin, dancing, rode horses, and participated in various physical activities.
In 1926, Frances graduated from Smith College with a degree in history. While there, Frances became good friends with two women named Helen, Helen “Kinkie” (maiden name unknown), later Mrs. Fred King, and Helen “Greenie” (Green), later Mrs. Lee Bacon, with whom she corresponded for sixty years after they graduated.
After her Father died in January of 1945, Frances operated the F. D. Huntington Company, of Detroit. Initially, she sold small carbides, gauges, and diamond-tipped grinding tools. Except for listening to her Father talk about his work for years, and having one of her brothers take a gauge apart and explained to her how it worked, she entered the business without any experience or education. To educate herself, Frances studied electronics, the composition of metals, chemistry of plastics, and metal working at various workshops and conferences. She eventually functioned as a manufacturer’s representative for five companies and as a quality control engineer.
During her career, Frances had different business partners, including her brother Dan, her husband Milo, and, lastly, Jim Doll. From at least the mid-1950s through 1973 she worked mostly as a distributor of Comptorplugs for the Comptor Company of Waltham, (Massachusetts). In 1973 the Comptor Company severed their relationship. Afterwards and through at least 1976 she mainly distributed gauges for Mahr Inc., Company, of New York (New York). Frances officially retired in February of 1979.
Like her parents, Frances was involved with a number of social organizations during her lifetime, including the Junior League of Detroit, for which she served as editor of the Junior League Bulletin in 1938, the Ibex Club, Sigma Gamma, and the Liggett School Alumni Association. She also served once as president of the Detroit Smith [College] Club.
Professionally, Frances helped found the American Society for Quality Control, Inc.-Greater Detroit Section. She served as the organization’s newsletter editor from 1964 through 1970. Frances also helped found the Society of Women Engineers-Detroit Chapter. From 1972 through at least 1980 Frances was also a member of the Industrial Mathematics Society.
Her favorite hobby was gardening. As a respected grower and cross-breeder of lilies, Frances helped transplant some of her lilies to the gardens on Belle Isle. She gave at least several presentations and wrote articles about lilies which were published. Also, Frances painted botanical images of lilies, some of which were exhibited and won prizes at National Lilly Conferences.
Frances was also a member of the Michigan Nature Association, to whom she donated ten acres of land, in honor of her parents, named the Lakeville Swamp Nature Sanctuary, in Addison Township, Oakland County (Michigan). She was also a member of the Detroit Audubon Society during the 1970s and 1980s.
From 1962 through part of 1970 she was married to Miodrag Dimitrievich, a Serbian from what was then communist Yugoslavia. Mio played the violin and was a member of an orchestra. During their marriage he helped operate her business. In 1965, they traveled together to Europe to visit his relatives, mainly his brothers and their families. Relations between the Serbians and Frances were warm, and she learned to read, write, and speak Serbian. Frances and Mio also “adopted” a distant relative of his, Marija, and her son, Peter, who eventually moved to Detroit. Mio taught Peter how to play the violin. In September of 1970 Mio “moved in with a blonde” and Frances officially left him.
Frances lived a comfortable life. She inherited money from at least two aged, distant relatives and presumably earned good money in her business. According to her tax records, now withdrawn from the collection, she had $90,000 in investments in 1970. When married, Frances employed a maid, laundress, and cleaning lady, several days a week each.
She also, in part, financially supported her two nieces, Barbara and Cynthia Huntington, after their mother died. Frances and her nieces visited back and forth between Michigan and California on several occasions.
In 1976 Frances spent two weeks sightseeing in Africa. She enjoyed all the animals and Nairobi and Kenya, in particular.
A dog lover, Frances wrote often of two of her dogs, Angus, with whom she and her nieces traveled across the western U.S. in the 1960s, and, later, her beloved Crumpet.
After several years of illness, and a hospital stay in BonSecour Hospital, Frances died on May 16, 1991. She was survived by several nieces and nephews. Her parents, siblings, and her nephew, John Kerr III, all preceded her in death. A memorial service was held for her at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church. (This information is from the collection.)
Also documented in the collection are numerous members of Frances’ family, for whom biographical information is found below.
Frances’ siblings were: John T., Mary L., and Dan[forth] Huntington.
John Treadwell Huntington was born in 1906. He married Anita Bemis in 1938. Together they had two children, Johnny and Billy. He died before 1991.
Mary Lorraine Huntington was born in 1910. She attended Erskine School in Boston. From 1930 through 1932 Mary was known as “Hoot Owl” to her friends. The friends had their own social club called “Sardoc,” which gathered and partied at each other’s homes. The meaning of “Sardoc” is now lost.
About 1934 Mary married Robert “Bob” Kerr, Jr., with whom she had corresponded for several years. Eventually the couple adopted two children: Robby [Robert Kerr III] and Franny [Frances]. By 1945 Mary’s “mental problems” had split their marriage. Frances was appointed guardian of her niece and nephew by December 8, 1949, and, prior to that, had been responsible for raising and caring for them for some time. Later, Bob Kerr, Jr. was appointed their guardian. Mary died sometime between her son’s marriage in 1964 and Frances’ death in 1991.
Danforth Huntington was born on August 10, 1913. He graduated from the prestigious Cranbrook schools, later Cranbrook Educational Community, in 1932.
During World War II, Dan served in the U.S. Navy. He was commissioned at the rank of Lieutenant and served aboard the U.S.S. John C. Butler. Later, he was the Captain of a destroyer, the U.S.S. Rudderrow. For displaying gallantry in action, Dan was awarded the Silver Star by 1943. Dan also participated in the Battle of the Aleutian Islands and the Battle of Leyte Gulf. After the war, Dan attended the Naval Officers School in Miami. Eventually, he retired as a Captain of the U.S. Naval Reserves.
Dan married Cynthia Buckley on October 14, 1943. Together they had two daughters, Barbara (May 21, 1947- ) and Cynthia (November 23, 1948- ). His wife began divorce proceedings against Dan by January 1, 1959. She later died unexpectedly before Christmas [1959?].
From April 1953 through October 1955, Dan served as a business partner with his sister, Frances. That partnership ended when her accountant found that Dan had “borrowed” company funds.
Dan died on February 8, 1960. He and his wife are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Dan’s daughters, Barbara and Cynthia, then lived with their maternal Grandmother, Mrs. Buckley, in San Francisco.
There is little information available about Frances’ parents in the collection, although there is a lot of correspondence written to her mother. The best summary is in Frances’ Huntington Family History, which also documents the Treadwell and Hooker branches of her ancestry.
George D. Huntington was born in 1875, the son of Frances Danforth and Henry Fitch Huntington. He graduated from MIT with high grades in 1898. He married Helen Irene Treadwell of Watertown (New York). When his business failed in New York (State) he moved to Detroit to operate a steel factory which needed an engineer. By 1930 he was a steel salesman. Together, George and Helen had four children: Frances, John, Mary and Danforth. He died on January 9, 1945.
Helen I. (Treadwell) Huntington, also born in 1875, was the daughter of John Henry Treadwell (JHT) and Mary S. (Brainard) Treadwell. Mary S. (Brainard) Treadwell was the daughter of Orville V. Brainard and Mary Seymour (Hooker) Brainard (d. 1894) of Watertown (New York). Mary S. (Hooker) Brainard was Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s sister. Helen was nine-year-old when her Father died in his 30s of Bright’s Disease. The nursing attendant told Helen that she was killing her Father by climbing in and out of his sickbed. Helen did not find out until ten years later that he had died from a disease. She later attended Miss Mackie’s Finishing School and had private lessons in walking, standing, and elocution. As noted above, Helen married George D. Huntington, with whom she had four children. She was a member of the Ibex Club. She died on November 15, 1956.
Helen’s brother, Brainard Treadwell (d. 1967) and his wife Regina “Geegee” survived Helen and had an affectionate relationship with Frances.
Besides her immediate family, Frances’ ancestors and more distant relatives who are well documented in the collection include: John Henry Treadwell (JHT), her maternal grandfather, and JHT’s parents, Henry R. Treadwell, his wife Martha D. Mygatt Treadwell, and Major General Joseph Hooker.
John Henry Treadwell (JHT), Frances’ maternal grandfather, graduated from Yale’s Scheffield Scientific School, where he trained in architecture. He studied many subjects during his lifetime, including archaeology, pottery, Chinese porcelain, Martin Luther, history, antique furniture, and china, about which he published a few books. He also spoke German and French. JHT married twice. His first wife was a woman named Helen Irene [surname unknown], who died in childbirth. His second wife was Mary S. (Brainard) Treadwell. Together they had three children: Helen Irene Treadwell, who was named for the first wife and later became Frances’ Mother, Brainard H. Treadwell, and an infant who died young. JHT died in his 30s of Bright’s Disease.
JHT’s father, Henry R. Treadwell, sent JHT on numerous trips around Cape Horn to Europe, where he bought antiques as a silent partner in Sypher and Co. In 1866 JHT traveled to both Cason City (Nev.), and Meadow Lake (Calif.), to gain experience working in mines, which he hated. JHT also tried to go to Russia in 1966 to learn more about pottery. A poor businessman, traveling hurt his health and failed to bring him wealth.
Henry R. Treadwell and Martha “Mattie” (Mygatt) Treadwell were JHT’s parents. They wrote long, affectionate love letters to each other during their courtship, 1840-1844, while Henry was busy traveling. She lived in New Milford (Connecticut.) and he mostly worked in New York (New York). They married in 1844 and continued to write long affectionate letters to each other through 1850. After the birth of their fourth child, Martha, Mattie died [in 1851?]. Henry then married his sister-in-law, who was not very affectionate with Henry’s children, so they were mostly reared by their Grandmother Mygatt.
For biographical information on Major General Joseph Hooker, see an encyclopedia.