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This photograph of Gertrude Amelia Hopkins (1894-1973), Theodore Dreiser’s favorite niece, is, as far as I know, unique. It is the best photo of Gertrude that I have ever seen.
I am grateful to Mrs. Gloria N. Vevante, Gertrude’s niece, for giving me this photo.
Gertrude Amelia Hopkins was the daughter of Theodore Dreiser’s sister, Emma (Dreiser) Nelson (1863-1936). Emma (Dreiser) Nelson was the real life prototype of the lead character, Carrie Meeber, in Theodore Dreiser’s first novel, Sister Carrie.
— Roger W. Smith
email to a Dreiserian from Roger W. Smith, Janrary 15, 2017
Attached is a gorgeous photo of Gertrude Amelia Hopkins (1894-1973), who was TD’s favorite niece.
The photo was given to me by Mrs. Gloria Vevante.
Mrs. Vevante was born Gloria Nelson. She was Gertrude’s niece. Her (Mrs. Vevante’s) father was George Nelson.
George Kates Nelson (1892-1955) was the son of Emma and Hopkins. He took the name of his stepfather, John Nelson.
George was a hotel manager in Manhattan for most of his professional life. He married a woman, Gunda Ryerson, who had emigrated when young from Norway. For many years, his family lived in Manhattan.
George had nothing to do with TD and did not seem to have been intimate with his mother, Emma, as an adult. He was apparently somewhat of a wild kid who straightened out as he matured. He knew Paul Dresser and as an adolescent would spend time with him.
His first name, George, is possibly significant, since Hurstwood’s first name is George and he has a son named George, Jr.
Gertrude alternatively used the names Gertrude Hopkins and Gertrude Nelson when she was young. She aspired to be singer when young. She was close to Emma. She ended up working for Con Edison in Westchester County. She married a coworker, Emil Dorn, and became Gertrude Hopkins Dorn. But, she found out — much later (I believe it was after Dorn’s death) — that Mr. Dorn was already married (when he married Gertrude) to a wife who had been found mentally incompetent and was confined to a hospital. Gertrude went back to being Gertrude Hopkins.
Gertrude died in Westchester in 1973.
Her letters to TD are touching.
Harold J. Dies (1914-2012), a descendant of Dreiser’s aunt who was Trustee of the Dreiser Estate (he was a cousin of Dreiser’s second wife, Helen Patges Dreiser), knew Gertrude well and played a major role in administering her estate. It is clear that he was fond of her. Tedi Dreiser Goddard and her mother, Dr. Vera Dreiser, knew Gertrude but didn’t seem to give her the time of day or think that much of her. Helen knew Gertrude and liked her. And, at an early age, at least, Gertrude used to correspond with Jug.