I was on my way home from a college class when I decided to make a slight detour and return to the Howard Cemetery. The cemetery was familiar – I had stopped here earlier in the year to visit the grave of murder victim William Musser who rests in the shadow of the Howard United Methodist Church. Oddly, the grave I was stopping at was next to Musser’s, but one row closer to the church. Note: more about William Musser’s murder can be found here: The Murder of William Musser.
Parking along West Main Street I stepped onto the sacred grounds. Knowing where William Musser’s grave was, I was quickly standing at the grave of Frances Tipton Hunter, a name I had not been familiar with until a college classmate mentioned her name and importance. Here, in a grave marked by s simple stone, rests a noted artist and illustrator.
Hunter was born September 1, 1896, the second of two children to Michael and Laura Hunter. When Laura died in 1902, Michael sent Frances and Harold to live with their aunt and uncle in Williamsport. Note: the aunt and uncle the siblings went to live with were Frances and Edward McEntire – Frances was Laura’s sister.
Hunter had a love for art from an early age, which developed through her school years. After graduating from Williamsport, she moved to Philadelphia to pursue a career in art studying at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial. It was while in Philadelphia she landed her first illustrating job. Hired by John Wanamaker, she illustrated a children’s fashion line for his catalogs.
In the 1920s, Hunter created a popular series of paper dolls for Ladies Home Journal that would later be expanded into Frances Tipton Hunter’s Paper Dolls. Her work would also appear in Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and Cosmopolitan. In the 1930s and 40s, Hunter’s illustrations – featuring children and their pets – appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. Her style of painting was similar to Norman Rockwell and her covers can easily be confused with Rockwell’s. Note: more about Norman Rockwell can be found here: Norman Rockwell.
In 1946, Hunter would begin a series of paintings spanning eleven years. “Sandy in Trouble” told the story of a little boy snd his dog. Also, she illustrated and published two books: Boo, Who Used to Be Scared of the Dark, and The Frances Tipton Hunter Picture Book.
Frances Tipton Hunter died on March 3, 1957 at the Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia. In the Howard Cemetery, a simple memorial stands in the family plot to remember her legacy, which has been forgotten by most.
Note: Where does Frances Tipton Hunter rest? In her obituary in the March 5, 1957 edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer, it is listed as Hunter was to be buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd. The Standard-Sentinel (Hazleton) states she wasn’t buried there, but cremated at West Laurel Hill Cemetery. I cannot find a record of her interment at West Laurel Hill. It is possible the marker is a cenotaph – a memorial for someone whose remains are elsewhere. I would like to believe her ashes were brought back and interred in the family plot, but I have not been able to verify that line of thought.
I finished paying my respects to the nationally known artist before leaving her memorial resting in the shadow of the church.