RIDEOUT Henry Milner[1]

Male 1877 - 1927  (~ 49 years)

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  • Name RIDEOUT Henry Milner 
    Born Apr 1877  Calais, Washington, Maine Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Gender Male 
    Census 18 Jun 1880  Calais, Washington, Maine Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    • (age 3.)
    Census 13 Jun 1900  Calais, Washington, Maine Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    • (age 23; occupation listed as instructor (Harvard Univ.); single, living with mother, Helen J. Rideout on Main Street.)
    _UID 993FD1F74C975E428F165180D1B373C959C9 
    Died 1927  [1
    • (died of pneumonia while on a family vacation voyage to Antwerp.)
    • Henry Milner Rideout (1877-1927) was a native of Calais, Maine. Author of sixteen novels, twenty-three short stories and novellas, and a biographical memoir, he also was editor of one college textbook, as well as co-editor of three others. Many of his stories appeared in The Saturday Evening Post.

      Rideout's father, a miller and road contractor, died when Rideout was twelve. Rideout's elder brother, who managed a bank in California, became the support of the family. At school, Rideout's ability caught the attention of his English teacher, Laura Burns, who was a cousin of the distinguished Harvard professor of English, Charles Townsend Copeland. She and Copeland motivated a group of Calais townspeople to lend Rideout the wherewithal to enter Harvard in 1895, where he was the first in his family to attend college. At Harvard, his literary talent came to the fore. Eventually he became Editor-in-Chief of The Harvard Monthly. His friends at Harvard included William Morrow, William Jones, Raynal Bolling, and Arthur Ruhl. After graduating in 1899 as Class Odist, Rideout was an instructor in the Harvard English department.

      Four years later, his college debts were paid and Rideout was free to turn away from a promising but uncongenial academic career. The Atlantic Monthly had accepted two of his short stories, giving him hope of earning his living by his pen. To gather background material, he set off from San Francisco for six months of travel in the Far East under contract to the American Woolen Company, reporting on jute mills in the Philippines, Indonesia, and India. Keeping careful notes, writing long detailed letters to his brother, he observed so well and later used atmosphere so skillfully that readers familiar with places such as Bangkok or Canton were persuaded that Rideout's familiarity equaled their own. During that arduous circumnavigation, Rideout made life-long friendships with various expatriate working people, especially sea captains. When his final jute-reports were filed, he returned via Europe, and settled down in central California with his bank-manager brother to begin an all-out effort to write novels for a living.

      In California, he met his future wife Frances Reed, also a gifted writer. They lived in her family home in Sausalito where they raised their three children. There were a number of Rideout cousins in California, among them the playwright Ransom Rideout (1899-1975), whose play "Goin' Home" was performed on Broadway in 1928 and staged by Antoinette Perry and Brock Pemberton, and who wrote dialogue for the film Hallelujah!, directed by King Vidor. As Rideout's work gained renown, readers in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain were eager for his stories. His eminence became such that the San Francisco Chronicle ran a banner headline announcing his sudden death from pneumonia while on a family trip to Europe.

      In a 1920 essay titled "The National Letters," H.L. Mencken said,

      "One constantly observes the collapse and surrender of writers who started out with aims far above that of the magazine nabob. I could draw up a long, long list of such victims: Henry Milner Rideout, Jack London, Owen Johnson, Chester Baily Fernald”

      Yet a study of Rideout's life reveals that his literary career was more like a workman following traditions of honest craftsmanship. Rideout's Far Eastern voyage also fits into his Down East heritage. Maine Rideouts had been shipbuilders since the late seventeenth century. They were lumbermen who cut the trees to build those ships. Some were farmers who made the most of the resources of the Maine coast by building a family schooner to venture to China or India on a trading voyage. Rideout set out to seek literary treasure on the other side of the world. With workmanlike modesty, Rideout spoke of his stories as his "yarns." Even when he became well known, he never saw himself as a literary figure, and he despised coteries, literary movements, and intellectual snobbery.

      Rideout's fiction drew from two different sources: Maine background, or exotic background. Though his most acclaimed work is in the former vein, yet toward the end of his life he did equally well with a group of traditional Chinese tales told him at the Sausalito kitchen table by his friend Pan Ruguei. Those stories were collected as Tao Tales. John Macy said in a 1928 review that Rideout set the Chinese stories in "enticingly classic English."

      The classical training absorbed at Harvard shows in the commemorative ode commissioned from Rideout for the Tercentennial Anniversary of the settlement of Saint Croix Island, Maine in 1904. Moreover, that ode, alone of all the Tercentennial speeches and formalities, makes mention of Native Americans. This awareness shows in his college friendship with William Jones, the Native-American anthropologist who died in the Philippines in 1909. (William Morrow and Raynal Bolling commissioned Rideout to write a memorial biography of Jones.) Rideout's last published work was an adventure story, Lola the Bear, set in the Maine woods among tribal people with whom Rideout had hunted and fished since boyhood.

      Rideout was a man who found ordinary people more interesting than high society. For example, he made friends with the engineer of a Cunard liner rather than with the first class passengers in the salon of that liner. He loathed cities, and his fictional heroes were country people and working men. The heroine of his late novel, Barbry, was an indentured servant girl.

      It is appropriate that Maine lumberjack songs and sea chanteys recorded by Rideout are preserved on wax cylinders in the archive of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The Dictionary of American Biography contains an entry for Henry Milner Rideout with information supplied by his widow.

      In his valedictory 1928 review, John Macy pays tribute to Rideout's work:

      “The masculinity of substance and manner sets Rideout's New England tales apart from the exquisite idylls of Mary Wilkins, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Alice Brown. He has their ear for the familiar speech of country people, but his intellectual fiber is more close-knit and tough than their charming homespun. On the other side it is equally far from the tar-and-tarpaulin kind of fiction.”
      —Henry Milner Rideout, a Romancer of the two Easts,, New York Herald Tribune, August 5, 1928.
    Person ID I58720  Noyes Family Genealogy
    Last Modified 26 Apr 2010 

    Father RIDEOUT Samuel,   b. 5 Nov 1822, Bowdoinham, Sagadahoc, Maine Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 26 Apr 1889  (Age < 66 years) 
    Mother [RIDEOUT] Helen J.,   b. Nov 1828, , , Maine Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married Aft 1847  [2
    Family ID F32165  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family REED Frances,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married Y  [4
     1. RIDEOUT Clara,   b. Abt 1915,   d. 15 Apr 2005, Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 90 years)
    Last Modified 15 Mar 2019 
    Family ID F23263  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - Apr 1877 - Calais, Washington, Maine Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCensus - 18 Jun 1880 - Calais, Washington, Maine Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCensus - 13 Jun 1900 - Calais, Washington, Maine Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Sources 
    1. [S2692] Internet-Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Milner_Rideout.

    2. [S4699] Census-1900-ME-Washington-Calais, Calais town; 198; sheet 20; dwelling 361 family 395; Henry M. Rideout.
      Name: Helen J Rideout
      Home in 1900: Calais, Washington, Maine
      Age: 71
      Birth Date: Nov 1828
      Birthplace: Maine
      Race: White
      Gender: Female
      Relationship to Head of House: Head
      Father's Birthplace: Maine
      Mother's Birthplace: Maine
      Mother: number of living children: 4
      Mother: How many children: 8
      Marital Status: Widowed
      Residence : Calais City, Washington, Maine
      Occupation: View on Image
      Neighbors: View others on page
      Household Members: Name Age
      Helen J Rideout 71
      Clara F Rideout 32
      Henry M Rideout 23

    3. [S4700] Census-1880-ME-Washington-Calais, Ward & Calais; 169; 45; dwelling 377 family 450; Henry M. Rideout; viewed; 25 April 2010.
      Name: Samuel Rideout
      Home in 1880: Calais, Washington, Maine
      Age: 57
      Estimated birth year: abt 1823
      Birthplace: Maine
      Relation to Head of Household: Self (Head)
      Spouse's name: Ellen J.
      Father's birthplace: Maine
      Mother's birthplace: Maine
      Neighbors: View others on page
      Occupation: Dept. Collector Of Custom
      Marital Status: Married
      Race: White
      Gender: Male
      Cannot read/write:


      Deaf and dumb:

      Otherwise disabled:

      Idiotic or insane: View image
      Household Members: Name Age
      Samuel Rideout 57
      Ellen J. Rideout 51
      Lavinia B. Rideout 20
      N. Dunning Rideout 17
      Clara F. Rideout 12
      Mary L. Rideout 8
      Henry M. Rideout 3

    4. [S82] Death-obit, Daughter Clara's obit Marin Independent Journal 24 Apr 2005 http://www.legacy.com/MarinIJ/LegacySubPage2.asp?Page=LifeStory&PersonId=3460625.