Before moving to Plum Grove in 1866, the family of Walter and Louisa Hoyt were involved in the abolitionist movement. Walter's brother and business partner was Lyman Hoyt, a well-known abolitionist and founding member of the Neil's Creek Antislavery Society and the Eleutherian College in Indiana. Walter was originally from Vermont and Louisa was from Kentucky. After their marriage in Indiana, they lived in Ohio, Canada, and New York before moving to Iowa City. When he moved to Iowa he joined his longtime friend, John Borland, in a small manufacturing company. There is also evidence that the Hoyts had business, political, and social ties to the Lucas family and to the family of Samuel Kirkwood, Iowa's Civil War governor who lived down the street.
One image of Plum Grove survives from the Hoyt era, a crude sketch from Ruger’s 1868 Bird’s Eye View of Iowa City, Johnson County, Iowa. North is to the left. The circled house is Plum Grove, note the addition to the back. The entire map is on the Library of Congress site.
Sadly, Walter died in 1869, leaving Louisa to raise their four children. It appears that Louisa Hoyt used her social and economic connections to live a comparatively affluent life, even after her husband died, although the Plum Grove farm may have provided supplemental income. Many years later, she married John Borland, her husband's old business partner, but Borland died less than a year later.
The oldest daughter, Adeline (Addie), married into the influential and wealthy Finkbine family. In 1883, Plum Grove was sold to the Switzer family, and the Hoyts moved to Des Moines. The youngest daughter, Eleanor (right), went to college, became a reporter and editor at the New York Sun, and then became a popular novelist in the first decades of the 20th century. A list of her books is included in the bibliography section.
Eleanor Hoyt Brainerd