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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

HEUSTIS, Bertha Lincoln

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Family History: http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=:2183766&id=I113307029

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HEUSTIS, Bertha Lincoln. (Coldwater, MI, Mar. 5, 1870--Dubuque, IA, Jan. 21, 1944). Bertha Lincoln was the daughter of the United States consul to China appointed at the end of the Grant administration and continued under President Hayes. After five years in China, the consul and his family returned to Washington, D. C. where Bertha began singing lessons. In competition with one hundred of the finest amateur soloists, she won the position of soprano soloist for the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church in Washington, D. C. She held the position for several years while continuing her studies and performing in light operas.

In June, 1893 she had her formal debut as a public singer in Milwaukee. It was after this performance that she met and later married Dr. James Walter Heustis of Dubuque. The November 1903 issue of the Atlantic Monthly Magazine reported that she "touched the hearts of all present" with her singing of "The Star Spangled Banner" on October 8, 1903 at the Iowa Daughters of the American Revolution Convention in Davenport, Iowa. (1) She opened a vocal studio above HARGER AND BLISH around 1907. (2) She was also a popular accompanist of other musicians. (3)

In 1910 she was one of two Dubuque women in attendance at the national meeting of the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) held in Washington, D.C. While there she also presented a petition to Congress on behalf of the Women of the Civil War for a national charter of the organization. (4)

Heustis performed on a several months long singing tour of the south through Texas and Mexico in 1911. She was the guest of honor at several large social functions and performed at the opening of a large cub house in Beaumont, Texas. She returned to Dubuque by way of California where several other singing engagements were planned. (5)

An accredited correspondent at the White House during the administration of Woodrow Wilson, Heustis was a regular correspondent for the TELEGRAPH HERALD and Dubuque Enterprise.

While serving as its national president in 1915, Heustis took an active role in founding branch chapters of the National Society of American Pen Women. An accomplished author, Heustis published three volumes of poems and short stories, wrote book reviews for many publications, and produced and directed twelve motion picture shorts. She wrote the script for the only silent movie to have as its cast all hearing-impaired actors. Produced by James Spearing, His Busy Hours (1926) was only shown at the Lexington School for the Deaf in New York City. (6)

From 1901 to 1911 Heustis served as chairperson of the Dubuque Borough No.1 of the Iowa Society of Colonial Dames of America. In 1922 Who's Who Among The Women of California honored Heustis although she and her husband lived there only a short time. (7) She is buried next to her husband in Arlington National Cemetery.



1. Hellert, Susan Miller. Hidden History of Dubuque. Charleston, South Carolina: History Press, 2016, p. 75

2. "Vocal Studio," (advertisement) Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, January 23, 1907, p. 9

3. Miss Agatha Scott in Recital," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, February 25, 1909, p. 3

4. "Delegates Go East," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, April 15 1910, p. 9

5. "The Whirl of Society," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, February 12, 1911, p. 3

6. Hellert, p. 76

7. Who's Who Among The Women of California Online: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~npmelton/women/whotxt/136-159.htm