The Sad Story of Carlotta Eastman

They say that dogs are a man’s best friend. Well, as Abigail Adams once said, “remember the ladies,” because the same concept also applies to women and their K9 companions. A fine example of such affection is shown in the photographs to the right. Here we have Carlotta Eastman with her beloved pups as photographed by the Vail Brothers Photography studio here in Poughkeepsie. She had a lot of love for them as she would have had to spend a good amount of money (or at least her father’s money) on these precious prints. However, if you take a closer look at Lottie’s (her family nickname) later life, she might have been better off if she stuck with her dogs.

Carlotta “Lottie” Eastman was born on July 7, 1867 to Harvey G. and Minerva Eastman, here in Poughkeepsie. Her father was the very successful creator of the Eastman Business College and eventually served as Mayor of Poughkeepsie. The family lived in a large mansion on the corner of South Avenue and Montgomery Streets (known as Eastman Park). She and her sister Cora would have had a very pampered childhood in such a place, which included lavish gardens and a park. We can see from all of the photos of her that not only did she have a great love for dogs but also a love for fashion; from fine dresses to fancy hats, she loved showing off her style.

This sense of fashion attracted the eye of Frederick Ussher in 1886, who was in town with his engineering firm and hired to work on the brand new Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge. This was the same bridge that her father envisioned before his death in 1878. Frederick Ussher revisited in 1891 to marry Carlotta in the most talked about wedding ceremony in the papers that year. The wedding was held inside the Eastman Mansion, which was beautifully decorated with flowers. An orchestra played as the bride walked in with a dress of fabulous old point lace, bunches of orange blossoms, and a cluster of diamonds that she wore above her brow. Around 1500 people were said to have been invited.

Records show they had two children, Eastman in 1892 and Margaret in 1894. However, the cemetery plot in Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery shows they had another son named George, who died in infancy in 1893. Not all was well with this marriage because by 1897, Carlotta had traveled to North Dakota, where it was easy to get a divorce, and she officially ended the marriage. She came back to New York, where she seems to have moved back in with her mother and step-father in the Eastman Mansion with her children. By 1900 we find her on the census records living in New York City, but at some point she lost custody of her children, who were sent back to live with their father. Carlotta’s life seems to have taken a turn for the worst at this juncture, and by 1910 she was living in a boarding house in Massachusetts. There, she received the news that her son Eastman, who had been staying in Texas, had died in June of 1911 from pneumonia, the same illness she succumbed to on October 4th of that same year. She is buried in the Eastman plot at Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery, but there is no headstone for her, she rests in the space between her mother, who died in 1907, and her infant son George.


Poughkeepsie Journal – 18 Mar 1891, 17 Aug 1893, 14 Jun 1897, 9 Mar 1912

Federal Census Records – Via  – 1900, 1910, 1920

Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery Records – Eastman Plot folder

Death certificate – Via – Massachusetts 1911


Carlotta02 – Three photos of Carlotta in various fashions, Vail Brothers Photography Studio, Poughkeepsie NY – LH Collections

Carlotta04 – Fashion shot of Carlotta Eastman, Vail Brothers Photography Studio, Poughkeepsie NY – LH Collections

Carlotta05 – Carlotta Eastman with a fabulous hat, Vail Brothers Photography Studio, Poughkeepsie NY – LH Collections

Carlotta06 – Carlotta Eastman with two of her dogs, Vail Brothers Photography Studio, Poughkeepsie NY – LH Collections

Carlotta07 – Carlotta Eastman with dog, Vail Brothers Photography Studio, Poughkeepsie NY – LH Collections

Carlotta08 – Carlotta Eastman with dog, Vail Brothers Photography Studio, Poughkeepsie NY – LH Collections

Eastmanplot – Copy of the Eastman plot card, Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery Archives