Horton, Harriet - portrait of Anna Helen Garth Goodlett

These three miniature portraits are an interesting example of how a simple detail about one miniature can bring forgotten sitters "back to life". The only information on these miniatures about any of the sitters is the inscription on the reverse of the young man, John David Garth. The seller of the miniatures was only able to add that they had come in 2004 from a Dallas, Texas estate of a lady named Chris Etenger (or Etinger) who had died a couple of year earlier. Research has indicated that the most likely person to fit this description is either Kristin Ettinger of Marshall, Texas or Christine Ann Ettinger (23 Mar 1951-2002) of Minnesota who died 20 Oct 2002, but neither has yet been linked to the miniatures.

Initially, it was thought the two portraits by Horton were the parents of John David Garth, but now it has been concluded the one of the lady is in fact his sister, with the man being his father. From the information researched and now summarised here, a poignant story has been pieced together.

Helen Kercheval Garth was married to John Houston Garth and had two children, Anna Helen Garth born in 1863 and John David Garth born in 1874. John David Garth died in his prime, at age 21 in 1895, and as a memorial keepsake his parents arranged for a photograph of him to be sent to Otto Eckardt of Dresden, Germany. Thus in 1899 Eckardt painted the miniature here of John David Garth.

But in 1899, John Houston Garth also died. His wife Helen then must have wished to have a memorial miniature painted of him also. Thus around 1900 she arranged for Harriet Hutchinson Horton to paint the miniature of John Houston Garth. Judging by the appearance of the miniature, it was a copy of a large oil portrait of John Huston Garth.
At the same time, Helen must have feared the loss of her daughter as well. Thus the artist was asked to also paint a miniature of Anna H Garth who had married Robert Goodlett, which is apparently based upon a photograph of her in mourning attire. In 1900 Anna would have been 37 which fits with the age of the sitter date at this miniature would have been painted.

Having lost both her husband and her son in a short space of time, in 1900 Helen Kercheval Garth and her daughter, Anna Garth Goodlett donated $25,000 to build the John Garth Memorial Library in Hannibal, Mo with the dedication stone appearing here. Helen lived as a widow in Hannibal for at least another 20 years.
Thus this miniature portrait of Anna Helen Garth Goodlett (1863-?) is signed "Horton" for Harriet Hutchinson Horton (1864-1922). Anna Helen Garth was the daughter of John Houston Garth in the adjacent portrait also by Harriet Hutchinson Horton, and the sister of John David Garth, who appears in the other adjacent portrait by Otto Eckardt.

At the death of Harriet Horton in 1922, the Minneapolis Journal described her as one of the most notable portrait painters of the region and reported; "Mrs Horton was also noted for her miniatures. Of her work in this field Anne Lyle Booth once wrote "Her miniatures are distinguished by a gem like brilliance, a cameo delicacy of detail and great accuracy as to likenesses. Her portraits, of children have all of the engaging charm of childhood and a daintiness of color and method that seems especially well suited to the delicate tints and textures of soft young flesh." "

Harriet Horton was born at Prescott, Wisconsin and at the time of her death she lived at Bald Eagle, Minn. In 1910 she had lived in Ramsey, Minnisota with her husband Floyd W Horton (1859-?) and in that census they both described themselves as portrait artists. They had married in 1887.

A kind visitor has informed me that Harriet was the artist and Floyd was the owner of the Horton Studio and so was her manager etc. The MN Historical Society has a number of Harriet's paintings which ended up there after her death, where they are miss-attributed to Floyd. I am advised Floyd was not credited by the family as being an artist, and his own Granddaughter was very adamant that he was not. The visitor has seen a number of portraits by Harriet and they are all signed in red.

However, commissions must have declined, as in the 1920 census Floyd described himself as a salesman and Harriet gave no occupation. Few portraits by them have been located, but there is a copy of a 1892 oil portrait of Andrew Taylor Still by Floyd W Horton on the cover of the 2003 Annual Report of the A T Still University of Health Sciences.

Helen Kercheval was born Jul 18 1840 in Hannibal, Mo where her father William B Kercheval was a trader. Helen married John Houston Garth around 1860. There are conflicting records as to whether Helen's mother Ann Kercheval was born in either Bohemia in 1822, or Virginia in 1814. However, it maybe that her father remarried, with both wives named Ann.

In 1900 Helen lived in Clay, Ralls, Mo. It appears she lost both her husband and her son shortly before 1900, as in the 1900 census she stated she was a widow, with only one living child out of two births. Her surviving child was Anna Helen Garth (Apr 1863-?) who had married Robert M Goodlett (Nov 1859-?) of Kentucky, a provisions broker.

In the 1900 census, Helen described her occupation as "capitalist". Judging by comments on other Internet sources, she chose this description as she had taken over the running of her husband's business interests after his death. Helen's widowed mother Annie Kercheval was living with her in 1900, as was a young boy, John Garth Goodlett (Jun 1893-?) who was her daughter's son. There were also three servants living in the house; a cook, housemaid, and coachman.

As an indication of how census records can be in error, John Garth Goodlett is recorded in the 1900 census twice, once at his parent's home and once at his grandmother's home. Presumably he was staying overnight with his grandmother on census night.

There is an interesting account by a visit of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) to Helen's home in 1902 at A Curious Encounter (1995) by Athan Y. Chilton

The John Garth Memorial Library in Hannibal, Mo was commissioned by Helen Garth as a memorial to her husband, John Houston Garth (1838-1899), but probably in her own mind, also to her son, John David Garth (1874-1895) as it was opened in 1902, see about the library 951 b


Carrie23 said...


I was researching Floyd Horton when I came across this article. I have been trying to find any information I can on him and nothing is coming up. This post is very interesting, as I am currently researching several paintings at Museum of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, MO that have been attributed to him. I am just wondering where you got this information because I'm having very much trouble finding out anything about Floyd or Harriet.

Don Shelton said...

Hi Carrie,
I am glad it is helpful. It is several years since I wrote it, but from memory it was partly from, partly from Googling all the various names and related references, and partly from someone who wrote to me after the initial post, but regret I cannot remember who, to build up the overall picture. If you would like to discuss it further, please click on my profile for my email address.

Rebecca DeMarino said...

Harriet Hutchinson Horton was my great grandmother (my mom was Helen Horton Worley) My great grandfather, Floyd Horton, owned the studio and because Harriet signed many of her paintings with simply "Horton", he was often credited as the artist. I'm fortunate to own several of her paintings ❤️

Rebecca DeMarino said...

Carrie - I should mention that Harriet painted many governors of her time and some still hang in state offices. There's an inn in Iowa that has several of her works and the Minnesota Historical Society also has several!