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His Family History

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L. C. Earle (young)

L. C. Earle undated

L. C. Earle - Studio

Helen Harmon (young)

Helen C. Harmon (wife)

Ray & Larry Earle (sons)

John Edward Earle (father)

Mary Melvina Dorset (mother)

Painting of L. C.'s Mother
Mary Melvina (Dorset) Earle

LETTER: John E. Earle
to his wife, Mary - 1842


Interesting Associations

Grand Rapids Home

Montclair, NJ Home

Earle Family Gravesite

Edward Earle Gravestone
(Grandfather of Lawrence)


New York City

Pike Street, the Lower East Side of Manhattan island — L. C. Earle was born to John E. Earle, a merchant,  and Mary Malvina Dorset on Nov. 11, 1845. Mary became John’s second wife in1842 and was 26 years old when L. C. was born. He was the youngest son in a family of nine siblings and half siblings. By February 1854, when Mary’s mother died, the Earle family lived on Washington Place in Manhattan.

Grand Rapids

By May 1856, the family had moved to Grand Rapids. John was a grocer in 1860, but soon owned and operated the Kent Woolen Mills (on the site of the present post office) which burned in January 1873.

L. C.’s interest in art blossomed when he was young.  He caught the interest of Marinus Harting, an accomplished Dutch artist who had recently settled in Grand Rapids to teach art.  Young Earle assisted his father in the woolen mill for about three years, but by 1867 was already making a name for himself in the art world even getting several  mentions in the Grand Rapids newspaper. Most interesting is his early involvement with the Kent Baseball club.  L. C. was right fielder as well as founding member and Secretary of the club when it started in 1867. Later that year he left for New York City to continue studying his chosen profession.


About 1869, LC went to Chicago to study with the renown Walter Shirlaw, instructor at the Chicago Academy of Design, the forerunner of the Art Institute of Chicago.  The early 1870’s saw L. C. training abroad, at the Royal Academy in Munich. Back in Chicago, about 1881 he traveled again to Rome and Florence, Italy. Upon his return in 1882, he settled down in Chicago, marrying Nellie Clark Harmon of Aurora, Illinois. They had two sons and lived in Rogers Park and
Evanston until the late 1880s.


About 1889, L. C. moved his family back to the New York area, living in Montclair, New Jersey. They quickly joined the social and art community there. Mrs. Earle became very involved with the Montclair Dramatic Club while L. C. was a founding member of the Montclair Art Museum.

His years in Montclair were some of his most productive. It was while working in Montclair that he painted the famous mural series for Chicago National Bank called History of Chicago, The Dutch Boy Painter logo for the National Lead Company, St. Andrew’s Caddie, and the 1898 Columbian Exhibition murals.

Grand Rapids

After Nellie died in 1907, the boys, John and Lawrence, now ages 23 and 20, came back to Michigan with their father, involving themselves in the Detroit automobile industry. L. C. moved to Grand Rapids to live with his sisters on S. Union avenue in 1909. He remained very active until his death in 1921.


*Thanks to Dr. J. Gray Sweeney for permission to use material from
Artists of Grand Rapids 1840-1980, J. Gray Sweeney; Grand Rapids, 1981:
The Grand Rapids Art Museum, The Grand Rapids Public Museum

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