Posted here is a copy of a letter dated June 8, 1933 to Theodore Dreiser from his nephew George K. Nelson.
George Kates Nelson (1892-1955) was the son of Dreiser’s sister Emma Wilhelmina Dreiser by Lorenzo A. Hopkins. Mr. Nelson was the manager of a hotel in Manhattan.
Dreiser was close to George K. Nelson’s sister Gertrude A. Hopkins, his niece. But, the cold, businesslike letter posted here shows that there was no personal relationship between Dreiser and his nephew George. Nelson had had a relationship in his adolescence with his uncle Paul Dresser, the songwriter (Theodore Dreiser’s brother), this according to an interview with Gloria N. Vevante, George K. Nelson’s daughter, conducted by Roger W. Smith in 2007.
Nelson writes here: “It is understood that any such moneys received by me will be received as agent for Mary F. Brennan, Sylvia Kishima, Emma A. Nelson [George K. Nelson’s mother], Albert J. Dreiser and Rome M. Dresser. …” They were Dreiser’s siblings.
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.
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.
photo of Theodore Dreiser’s niece Gertrude A. Hopkins
Lorenzo A. Hopkins (aka L. A. Hopkins; 1847-1897) was the real life counterpart of the character George Hurstwood in Dreiser’s novel Sister Carrie.
Gertrude Amelia Hopkins (1894-1973), Theodore Dreiser’s niece, was the daughter of Dreiser’s sister Enema Dreiser (1863-1936). Emma was the real life counterpart of, and model for, the lead character in Sister Carrie.
Theodore Dreiser’s first novel, Sister Carrie, was based on real people and incidents: Dreiser’s sister Emma; and, Emma’s lover L. A. Hopkins with whom she eloped after Hopkins, a married man, stole money from his employer in Chicago.
In the novel, Carrie Meeber’s lover, George Hurstwood, commits suicide. Very little has been known hitherto about the identity of L. A. Hopkins, the real life model for Hurstwood, or what became of him after he and Dreiser’s sister Emma, the model for Carrie Meeber, settled in New York City.
This article provides information about Hopkins and his death. It also provides information about the life of Dreiser’s sister Emma after Hopkins’s death and about the children of Hopkins and Emma; they had two children whom Dreiser met in 1894 when he first visited New York City: George Nelson and Gertrude Hopkins. The former, George Nelson, did not relate to Dreiser in later life, though in his youth he had some contact with Dreiser’s brother Paul Dresser. The latter, Gertrude Hopkins, was Dreiser’s favorite niece.