LaMott George Bates


LaMott George Bates, 1847-1939

If Chester Jackson was the family's footloose adventurer, LaMott Bates was the tender of the home hearths, rarely venturing from Elsie, where he grew up and prospered, and then almost entirely due to necessity and rarely for the thrill of travel -- the most exotic trip he took was twice to San Diego. 

(Richard Bates has noted that LaMott's own spelling of his first name was "La Mott," but since voluminous records (including our family's own writings) consistently use "LaMott," that is the form I've adopted.)

Photographs we have of LaMott by himself:

GG LaMott Bates - large print - undated-10 L G Bates 1859 - from Jack Bates-10 LaMott Bates - 1912-23 LaMott Bates - age 3 years - daguerreotype - ca 1850-26
GG LaMott Bates - large print - undated-10.jpg L G Bates 1859 - from Jack Bates-10.jpg LaMott Bates - 1912-23.jpg LaMott Bates - age 3 years - daguerreotype - ca 1850-26.jpg
LaMott Bates - undated - 2-31 LaMott Bates - undated-31 LaMott George Bates - tintype - undated-26 LaMott George Bates - tintype - undated-31
LaMott Bates - undated - 2-31.jpg LaMott Bates - undated-31.jpg LaMott George Bates - tintype - undated-26.jpg LaMott George Bates - tintype - undated-31.jpg
LaMott George Bates - undated - 2-24 LaMott George Bates - undated - 3-24 LaMott George Bates - undated - 4-24 LaMott George Bates - undated-24
LaMott George Bates - undated - 2-24.jpg LaMott George Bates - undated - 3-24.jpg LaMott George Bates - undated - 4-24.jpg LaMott George Bates - undated-24.jpg
LaMott George Bates - undated-Bion
LaMott George Bates - undated-Bion.jpg

LaMott's life is told in daughter-in-law Nora Ruth (Holmes) Bates's short remembrance, and in the family monograph assembled by Richard Bates.  On this page I present other resources and recollections beyond those found in either of those sources:

  • Richard Bates writes in his monograph:

Opportunities for schooling were meager but he did attend in the winter, at first in a vacant room of the new log house of Ralph Van Deusen and later in a new log school house.  Sister Lizzie was too young to walk the distance in bad weather so he was provided with a wonderful sled drawn by two young oxen fitted with a miniature yoke fashioned by Andrew Rockwell, in which to drive her to school.  He then drove the rig back home and walked back once more to school. 

That yoke is displayed in the Elsie Historical Society: 

  • In 1862 LaMott, age 15, moved temporarily to Richfield, Ohio.  He went there first to continue his schooling, living first with his aunt, Abbie Baldwin and then moving in with Peter Allen and wife to learn the harness-making trade, remaining there three years.  His father, George Washington Bates, Jr., wrote him 9-26-1864, and then his mother, Emily (Robinson) Bates, wrote him there on New Year's Eve, 1865.  The letters are unremarkable for substance, but amazing for their unschooled semi-literacy and for the fact they have survived over 150 years.  (George's letter refers to spending time with William Sickels, who was LaMott's eventual wife's uncle.) 

The letters were written while the Civil War engaged the attention of all across the nation, yet receives nary a mention.

  • LaMott married Hannah Amanda Sickels on May 28, 1873.  The minister who officiated, Ebenezer Nethaway, would eventually be related to LaMott by marriage.

  • LaMott wrote his parents on 11-15-1874, again from Richfield.  This time, however, he was in Ohio as a book salesman, and it is about those efforts LaMott writes in this letter.  Of interest are his comments about the non-English-speaking German immigrants of that part of Ohio and a companion probably suffering from tuberculosis.  Near the letter's end he shows that he was already involved in financial operations.
  • The monograph cited at the beginning rightly notes the importance of J.F. Hasty's decision to sell, and LaMott's decision to purchase, the general store in Elsie that proved so instrumental in establishing his and the Bates family's fortune.  In the Bentley Library papers was a copy of the 8-7-1882 sales contract.
  • After purchasing the former Hasty store, we know LaMott made frequent payments on the contract.  In the Bentley Library papers was a note acknowledging payment of $100 on the debt.
  • As noted in the monograph, LaMott retained a friendship with Peter Allen and his wife of Richfield, Ohio, for all their lives.  We have a fragment of a letter from Mrs. Allen dated 10-26-1896, otherwise unremarkable except for a short passage:

I think if anything will make us young and nimble again, 'twill be when we hear that McKinly has gotten the Election.  We rec'd your sons graduating card.  I am so glad that your sons are trying to make a mark in the world, for there are so many boys & girls that are mere ciphers, with all their privileges.

It would seem some attitudes never change.

  • Mrs. Allen wrote again on 2-8-1907, with her recollections of LaMott's arrival in Richfield with a letter from his father asking that he be trained in the craft of harness making.  Of interest, a brief comment responding to LaMott apparently wishing he was in California -- he and Amanda had visited San Diego in 1905-06, and were to return in 1909-10.
  • LaMott's granddaughter (my mother), Emily Josephine Bates, was born January 23, 1911.  LaMott's son Clare wrote his brother (and Emily's father), Bion, a congratulatory note, including the concluding sentence, "Expect Father is delighted! and will be driving over with a (Cow) soon."

Richard Bates explains:

The statement about father driving over with a cow refers to the event when Lamott [Fair Bates] was born to Clare, as his first grandchild, LaMott senior brought a cow to the door as a present for the new arrival.  I have no idea how he got it to Durand from Elsie.  The later arrivals got a check for $25.

  • Chester Jackson, Bion Bates's father-in-law, wrote a note congratulating LaMott on his 80th birthday.

  • LaMott, who had long been associated with the Elsie bank, resigned from its Board of Directors, and the Board accepted his resignation by letter dated 1-26-1928.

  • Superb evidence of the foundation of the Bates fortunes is found in the "Inventory of L.G. Bates" found in the Bentley Library papers, showing considerable value in Notes, Contracts, Mortgages, Stocks, Bonds and Real Estate -- $120,000, and that in 1931, during the Great Depression.  That would be over $1.7 million today.

  • Several letters refer to LaMott's failing memory, which from the letters seems to have been worse even than my grandfather's (which we cousins remember) and much worse than Mother's, which was relatively benign. (Dementia to one degree or another seems to be a family occupational hazard -- a function of living long.)  Here's a typical passage, in a letter from Bion Bates to Mother dated 3-7-1934:

"If you get time, ... drop a souvenir card to Grandpa Bates [LaMott George Bates]. He enjoys a card so much as he is so lonesome. He can't forget, regardless of his ever-failing memory, the "good wife and mother" he lived with 60 years. He sheds many tears each day and we are all so sorry for him. I'm not telling mom but I'm hoping to take him with me and drive down [to Florida] for them when the time [comes]. It's foolish, but the cottage must be closed and it will do father good and I can drive it in three days."

  • LaMott and Amanda celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on May 28, 1933.  His daughter-in-law Wilma (Jackson) Bates, my grandmother, described the day in a letter to Mother:

"Now the Day is Over" and a very lovely occasion it has been. Just wish so much you two could have been here. If Minnie Coon had known Barb could have come to Farmington last night & driven home with her. Then we could have sent her to Lansing this P.M. You two were the only grandchildren absent. Forty-five of us sat down at the tables in the church basement. Good dinner but not as nice as Ovid ladies could have put on! Then papa took our pictures in group & grandma & grandpa alone, on the lawn & we went inside the house where the younger ones gave a little program. Rich & Jack did themselves proud. The poem I wrote & you recited [in 1923] was again a big Hit. R. gave it very clearly & loud. Aunt Alice gave a history of the wedding as she remembered it, a girl of 15. We had the carefully preserved articles of clothing to examine as we did ten years ago.

Grandma had on a new blue & white tiny-checked silk dress that gave the effect of a warm gray with organdie at the neck & looked so sweet. They bought it at Knapp's last week. Barbara Deuel gave her a beautiful corsage to wear of Talisman roses & swansonia. Wasn't that a lovely gesture? The outsiders all left about 5 & just the sons & wives, Deloss & Bessie & B. Deuel were left to visit & visit until 8:30. Had such a nice time & everyone is happy.

Photo is here.

Relatives from Durand, Ovid, Grand Rapids, Flint and Elsie gathered at the home of Mr. LaMott Bates on Thursday evening to help him celebrated his ninety-first birthday anniversary.  The guests were served a birthday dinner at the Baptist Church and retired to the Bates home for a social evening.  Mr. Bates is one of Elsie's pioneers and has been active all his life in business, lodge and social work until his illness in recent years.

  • Mother, Emily (Bates) Haynes, wrote her father in 1939 upon her grandfather Bates's death.  Her father, Bion Bates, and his wife, Wilma, had been visiting Emily in New York City, but news of LaMott's turn for the worse cut short the visit, although Bion and Wilma were unable to reach Elsie in time. 

Bion replied on 9-30-1939 with an account of the sudden departure from NYC, and arrangements. Followed by a second letter.

Mom and Unk. Clare and Aunt Lyda reached Ovid at about 8 p.m. all three pretty well tired out. Mom had eaten scarcely anything since leaving N.Y., having one of her usual 3 day sicknesses.

I think their trip was uneventful except for the almost tornado which they ran into in western Canada. Telephone poles were across the road for a ways.

Of course, you have heard from mom's card from Niagra that Grandpa was gone. I reached home at 4 and he died at 12:15 p.m. Harold and Nora, Ruth and Gerter Marten [Gertie Martyn] were there. His passing was very quiet, they said.

We made the arrangements at once. Funeral at 2:30 at the church, Sunday. Leslie Peters & partner are the undertakers. Burial at Mausoleum beside Grandma Bates and Clyde.


Barbara, Russ, Richard and Jack will be with us tomorrow, Jack acting as bearer with LaMott, Deloss and the three sons. What a shame that you could not have come home in the car.


Well, Grandpa is no more and ours is the older generation. Of course, Grandma Jackson, Aunt Dede, Aunt Alice and Unk. Alvah still represent a still older order than ours, but directly, "Pop" is at the head of the procession now, in his own family. If I could only know as much as I have always thought my Grandfather and father knew when holding this position. One thing very few today can claim the wonderful experiences which they had. Our history is simply 'He was born ___ lived ___ and died.' Chapters could be written about father Bates it's hard to make the obituary short."

Bion's letter was addressed to Mother's former NYC address, so was not delivered until he sent it with a second letter dated 10-3, with a note on the returned envelope: "Dear Emily: What a shame. No wonder you thought you were abused":

Received your fine letter of sympathy this noon and am acknowledging it at once. It was beautifully composed and I have to think that you came by your talent to write such letters honestly from your mother.

I had supposed that after my spell in the hotel when mom said there was no hope for Grandpa, I was through, but I confess I could scarcely finish your letter for tears and when I took it home, I wouldn't let mom read it aloud. It was a fine tribute to a fine man from a fine child.

It is well to think of him as he was 10 years ago. I'm glad that you can do it, and strangely enough, he looked in death more as he did 10 years ago. We all spoke of it. Mom will write particulars as she always does.


Last night, I went over and settled with Mrs. Munson who has taken care of father, turned out the lights, locked the door and drove away. I hadn't sensed it before that for the first time in 55 years, I had no home in Elsie. Time brings about many changes.

As I am to administer father's estate, I will probably be a busy man. But not too busy to always be thankful for having been given such a wonderful family.

  • Wilma Bates wrote an obituary; the "X"s may indicate portions not used in the newspaper.

  • Many years later, Owosso's The Argus-Press published an appreciation on 7-2-1976.

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