Sidney Van Dusens Were Among The Earliest Residents Of Prospect Street; Son Lived Across From The Rathburn Home

  • Thursday, September 22, 2022
  • John Wilson

Sidney C. Van Dusen had one of the first homes on the northern end of Prospect Street (later Boynton Terrace). His son, Harry Freeborn Van Dusen, lived for many years at 602 Pine St. The family background was German-French.

Sidney Van Dusen was born in 1835 at Manheim, New York, the son of Simon and Mary Timmerman Van Dusen. At age 22, he was in the hardware business at Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He married Jennie M. Sisson, of Chicago, in 1863. The family was still in New York when Harry was born in 1864.

Sidney Van Dusen studied at the Institute of Learning. He made his way to Atlanta, then arrived in Chattanooga in April 1880. He and Harry set up shop at the Read House across from the train station. Sidney was a railroad ticket broker - one of the best known in the South. He was the elder statesman of the Ticket Brokers Association and won many of its honors.

Harry had a cigar and tobacco shop. Sidney later moved his office to 103 W. Ninth St.

Sidney married Jane "Jennie" Maxwell. She was an accomplished pianist who often performed in public. The Van Dusens made their home on Prospect Street at a time when there were few houses on the later very fashionable street. Their only close neighbor as late as 1887 was the Hunts. But by 1889 there had been eight houses built in the section leading over to West Sixth Street.

Sidney Van Dusen was on the City Council, and he was elected a member of the city Board of Public Works a few months before his death. It was said "there were few more popular or had more friends" than Sidney Van Dusen.

On the last day of May 1905, Sidney Van Dusen had gone to the office as usual. He returned home for lunch, then went back to the office as did many Cameron Hill business people. He arrived home around 6 and was sitting on the porch with his granddaughter, looking over the spectacular view of Chattanooga, when he slumped in his chair and died of a heart attack. Harry was still at the office when he got the startling news. He jumped in a buggy and rode up Cameron Hill as quickly as he could, but his father had died by the time he arrived. Sidney Van Dusen was 69 and "had never been seriously ill in his life."

Harry Van Dusen married Cora B. Hulse in 1885 when he was 21. The young couple moved in with her parents, Andrew J. and Lydia Hulse, on Pine Street. It was at the corner of Sixth Street just across the street from the antebellum Rathburn home. Cora's aunt, Martha Wood, was living there also. Andrew J. Hulse was a Confederate veteran. The Hulses were at 221 W. Eighth St. until the house at Pine and Sixth was built in 1889. The Harry Van Dusens lived in this house for many years and raised their daughters, Mabel and Mamie, there.

Harry Van Dusen served for five years as chairman of the city Board of Public Works. He also at one time was proprietor of the Northern Hotel, which was near the foot of Cameron Hill. Harry Van Dusen also accumulated much valuable real estate. The family was active at St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

Harry Van Dusen, like his father, suffered from heart ailments. On June 7, 1925, he left his home at 834 Fort Wood on his way to carry out a business errand at the Marion Extract Company in Highland Park. He decided to stop at the home of the Willson family on Bailey Avenue as they had been friends for 25 years. He was at the front door when he said he was dizzy, then he collapsed and died.

Mamie Van Dusen married Oscar Thomas Buffalow in 1919. She lived until 1981 when she was 88.

Carrie, a daughter of Sidney and Jennie Van Dusen, died in 1868 as a toddler. Another daughter, Mabel, died in 1881 when she was six. Another daughter, Florence, lived until 1957. At the Spring Festival in 1904, Florence Van Dusen was the "Court Favorite" at the Coronation Exercises. Florence married Russell Dow. Still another daughter, Jennie, married Alvin Hajos and they lived in Atlanta.

A photo has not yet been located of the Van Dusen home on Prospect Street.

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