Lawrence Earle came to Grand Rapids in 1856 with his parents. The
boy at the age of twelve, began studying under the eye of Dutch-born Marinus Harting. In
1908, Lawrence recalled the old artist.
Grand Rapids, the middle of nowhere compared to a place like New York City, we find the
family of Larry Earle living in the young city's most influential neighborhood. Larry's
father, John E. Earle was one of the the first grocery dealers in Grand Rapids. In 1860,
his net worth was $40,000 dollars, very comparable to that of the several founders of the
city such as neighbor John Ball with assets of $50,000 and Louis Campau, $15,000. John
Earle later started up the Kent Woolen Mills, and after a disastrous fire in 1873, retired
from business life.
Next door to the Earles in 1860 lived Aaron Dikeman,
a jeweler from New York City, who arrived in Grand Rapids in 1837 and carried on his trade
here for 30 years. In 1981, I acquired a water color painting of sail boats on Lake Macatawa by
Dikeman which he apparently painted during his retirement.
Besides painting, Lawrence had another interest. In 1867 Lawrence
was a founding member and officer of The
Kent Base Ball Club. Sometime during the winter of 1867/68 he left for
New York city to study. By then he was already making a name for himself.
In 1878, Lawrence Earle became a member of the Chicago Literary
Club. The Club is a voluntary association of men and women interested in
writing original essays on topics of their own choosing and in listening to
other members present their essays. Meetings were held weekly from October
through May; one essay is delivered each evening. Most members were not
professional writers, but all were expected to express themselves
competently in English, and to present their essays in typewritten or
printed form to the Secretary for inclusion in the Club archives.
LAWRENCE CARMICHAEL EARLE
1878 - Died 1921
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN
Earle, Lawrence C. artist 15, 170 State, House 598 N. Lasalle [The
Lakeside Chicago, Illinois General & Business Directory for 1881; Chicago:
The Chicago Directory Company, 1881]
The Boston Art Club lists his addresses as Webber Music Hall,
Chicago, IL, in 1887; 253 West 42nd Street, New York City in 1892; and
Montclair, NJ in 1895.
Lawrence spent time in Kentucky in 1911, 1913 and 1915. He arranged those trips to the
Stearns estate with his friend Robert L. Stearns, the son
of the prominent lumber baron of Ludington, MI, Justus Stearns. The Stearns family is
related to my father, although several generations back!
Upon his return to Grand Rapids in 1909, Lawrence moved in to the
Earle family home with his sisters, Kate and Emma. It was located at
Union (now 226 Union Ave SE) and was built by their mother, the widow Mary (Dorset)
Earle in 1890. Lawrence lived there until his death in 1921.This is the home we purchased
in 1980 and have since worked to restore.
One discovery I made while researching the ancestry of Lawrence Earle that
interested me very much was the fact that his father, John E. Earle, was primarily of
Dutch ancestry. The name Earle, of course is very English, but
John Earle's mother and paternal grandmother were of Dutch descent from the area of Bergen
and Middlesex counties in New Jersey. Their ancestors were among the earliest settlers of New
Amsterdam (New York). This fact is never stated in the biographical information I have
seen pertaining to the artist. Perhaps, Larry Earle's skill in painting was inherited
through the lines leading to the Dutch, very well known for their skill at the visual