Elisaeus von Seutter was born in 1827, the youngest son of the German aristocratic family Seutter von Loetzon. He grew up in Lindau, an island located on the shores of Lake Constance, Germany.1
After finishing school von Seutter entered the house of Seutter & Company in Prague, Austria. In 1848, von Seutter, at the age of 21, arrived in New Orleans with the intention to explore America and the far West, but after landing on American soil, he moved to St. Louis and attempted to find work with European letters of introduction. While living in St. Louis, von Seutter caught malaria. Ill, homesick, and quite disappointed with his stay, he accepted an invitation from Max Kuner (his school friend) to join him in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Von Seutter moved to Vicksburg and joined Kuner in the jewelry business at the firm of Downing, Moody and Kuner.2
Elisaeus von Seutter soon mastered the trades of jewelry crafting, watchmaking, and engraving. He later chose to venture out on his own, opening a jewelry shop in Raymond, Mississippi. After establishing a successful business, von Seutter went back to Austria to visit family and to marry "the girl he left behind," Julia Hoch. Eventually, von Seutter moved back to Mississippi with Julia and settled in Raymond.3
After the Civil War, von Seutter lost the majority of his property and business. He moved to Jackson, Mississippi, and slowly rebuilt his jewelry shop. He constructed a two story brick building, at the corner of State and Capitol Streets, to serve as a jewelry shop (on the first floor) and a photoshop (on the second floor). Von Seutter also built his home, known as the "Ivy Cottage," on North State Street in Jackson. Preceding the entrance of the Ivy Cottage was a beautiful garden, filled with an array of flowers, vines, and exotic plants that von Seutter often tended.4 In the Ivy Cottage the von Seutters had eight children, only three of whom lived past the age of 11—Armine, Edward Raymond, and Carl.
Elisaeus von Seutter was known as a pioneer of the city of Jackson.5 He established the oldest jewelry business in Mississippi.6 He was actively involved in the community, serving as an alderman (1890), a member of the Episcopal Church, and a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) and the Knights of Honor (K. of H.) fraternities.7 He was also a man of multiple talents, having a liberal education and a skilled background in drawing, mechanics, and geometry.8 Goodspeed's acclaims his as a proud mixture of education, talent, and integrity.9 Von Seutter also published multiple texts, including an autobiographical story called "The Immigrant," a series of letters on the World's Exposition in Paris (1878), an account of his subsequent Continental travels (published in the Jackson Daily Clarion, 1878), and poetry. Von Seutter died on June 17, 1900, nearly six months after the death of his wife (January 1, 1900). Armine, Edward, and Carl (his sons) carried on his legacy by continuing business in the jewelry and photography trades and having active roles in the community.
The E. von Seutter Photograph Collection consists of thirty-five (35) original stereocards and forty-eight (48) photographic prints collected by the Elisaeus von Seutter family of Jackson, Mississippi. The majority were taken by photographers Elisaeus and son Armine. Two photographs are identified as the work of other studios—Clark of Meridian, Mississippi, and Krziwanek of Vienna & Ischl, Austria. The stereocards feature images of downtown Jackson in the aftermath of the Civil War. The portrait photographs include samples from the von Seutters' studio, as well as images of the von Seutter family, home, and garden.
The image curator provided descriptions of the images, which may be accessed through keyword search on the Web site and by subject headings through the MDAH online catalog.
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History purchased the stereocards and photographic prints in 1985 from Raymond's Antiques in Richfield Springs, NY, which had acquired them from the von Seutter family estate. In January and February 2008, the MDAH Archives and Records Services Division's Image and Sound section scanned the cards and prints, creating preservation-quality, TIFF images. These were then converted to Web-friendly, JPEG images by the Electronic Archives section and made available online within the MDAH Electronic Archives Graphic User Interface in September 2008.
1 Rowland, Dunbar, ed. "Carl J. von Seutter." Mississippi: Comprising Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedic Form. Spartanburg, SC: Reprint Company, 1907. 833. back