Bloodgood Cutter

Bloodgood Haviland Cutter (1817 - 1906)

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Bloodgood Haviland Cutter
Born in Great Neck, Long Island, NYmap
Ancestors ancestors
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died in Little Neck, Long Island, NYmap
Profile last modified | Created 3 Jan 2017
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Bloodgood Haviland Cutter, son of Richard Cutter & Mary Bloodgood Haviland, was born 5 Aug 1817 in Great Neck, Long Island, NY. He married 12 Nov 1840 to Emeline Allen. Considered a "gentleman farmer" and avid poet, critics consider Bloodgood amongst the "worst" published poets in United States history. Even Mark Twain knew the polite but persistent little fellow, and satirized him as the"Poet Lariat" in Innocents Abroad.

When the self-styled "Long Island Farmer Poet" Bloodgood Haviland Cutter died at age 89 in 1906, the weekly South Side Observer bade him farewell in a terse, four-sentence obituary that included this line: 'He was noted for three things: his weird poetry, his collection of curios and Revolutionary relics, and his collection of Long Island farm mortgages."

With his ability to produce a poem on virtually any subject at a moment's notice, Cutter made himself famous, or nearly so. With his haphazard collection of curios and relics, he made himself one of the great pack rats of the late 19th Century. With his farm mortgages (and stock market investments) he made himself wealthy enough to leave an estate of more than $900,000.

As for the fame part, that was given a great boost by none other than Mark Twain. In a twist of fate, Twain and Cutter found themselves fellow passengers with 65 others on board the steamer Quaker City on a June, 1867, pleasure trip to the Holy Lands. For Twain, out of the trip came a popular travel book The Innocents Abroad. For Cutter, out of it came a Twain-inspired sobriquet that he wore proudly for the rest of his life: "The Poet Lariat."

Twain described Cutter in his notes for the book: "He is fifty years old, and small of his age. He dresses in homespun, and is a simple-minded, honest, old-fashioned farmer, with a strange proclivity for writing rhymes. He writes them on all possible subjects, and gets them printed on slips of paper, with his portrait at the head. These he will give to any man who comes along, whether he has anything against him or not."

On this trip, the muse struck as Cutter gazed upon the pyramids of Egypt:

"Such a wondrous pile I never saw, No never in my life before; 'Twas wonderful I can truly say, In its magnitude in every way."

In Innocents, it is clear that Twain is making fun of Cutter. After viewing the Rock of Gibraltar at sunset, Cutter went below, leaving a passenger called the Oracle saying to Twain: "I never see one of them poets yet that knowed anything. He'll go down, now, and grind out about four reams of the awfullest slush about that old rock and give it . . . to any body he comes across first which he can impose on."

For the rest of his life Cutter boasted of his friendship with Twain, and when he published a 500-page collection of his poetry in 1886, titled The Long Island Farmer's Poems, Cutter added this slightly misspelled note after his name: "Mark Twain's 'Larriat'" in nnocents Abroad." In his clothing and his demeanor, Cutter sometimes acted the hayseed. But although he had little formal education, he had a sharp mind for buying and selling property and playing the stock market, by which he became wealthy. And he really was a farmer, though, after marrying into money, more of the gentleman type. He particularly liked going to the Mineola fair, where a prize hen or sow could send him into paroxysms of rhyme. [1]

After eloping with the daughter of a wealthy local family he inherited the Allen Mill, later known as Cutter's Mill (after which Cutter Mill Road in Great Neck would be named). With that plus the 102-acre farm he inherited from his father, called Prospect Hill, he was well-to-do and spent much of his time quoting both the Bible and his poetry on the street. [2]

He was occasionally published in the local newspapers.

Art was beyond his reach. Mere competence was a stretch. But in poems like On Observing a Beached Whale at Little Bayside, On Laying the Corner Stone of the Town Hall at Flushing, L.I., and On Tobacco Smoking in Queens County Court House Cutter put Queens, however tenuously, on the poetic map.

Near-oblivion was his fate, even in his native country, until recently, when he slipped through a narrow opening into The Encyclopedia of New York City, a long-awaited two-volume compendium to be published this fall.

The mention of his name this week drew a blank among officials at Flushing Town Hall, the subject of one of Cutter's most impassioned poems. Even at the Queens Historical Society, he is something less than a hot item...

No one could have tried harder to be recognized. With unflagging energy, he sent off a steady stream of his work to local newspapers, civic organizations, churches, the Long Island Rail Road and government and religious figures. He was constantly, and annoyingly, in print.

Perhaps Cutter was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then again perhaps the poetry has something to do with it.

It was bad. Very bad.

Whether describing the Queens County Fair (The display of furniture was excellent, Flushing town did it well represent) or a local clambake (You have dined on beef, mutton, and ham, And now you wish to try the clam), Cutter brought the same qualities to his verse: a tin ear, the glad insistence of a door-to-door Bible salesman, questionable taste and an inability to produce a line of verse that scanned.

"It does take a particular ear to appreciate his poetry," said Jeffrey A. Kroessler, a Queens historian who wrote the entry on Cutter for The Encyclopedia of New York City.

Mr. Kroessler, who said that he has probably read more of Cutter's verse than anyone now living, is cautious in assessing the poet's merits. "He's certainly below Whitman, and I'm sure he's above someone," he said.[3]

Bloodgood died in 1906. The local paper reported his passing with an article describing his character and estate, unceremoniously closing with, "Next to this sitting room is a dingy little cubbyhole with a single window, whose tiny dust covered panes are not even translucent. It is so filled with odds and ends of furniture and fragments that one must literally back out to turn around. Here Mr. Cutter slept and died, among dirt and bugs."[4]

He is buried under a beautiful monument at the Zion Episcopal Churchyard in Douglaston (Little Neck), Long Island, NY.

But it is by his poetry, for better or for worse, that we remember Bloodgood Cutter. In 1868, Glen Cove celebrated its bicentennial, and Cutter wrote a 12-stanza poem for the occasion that included this:

"Oysters and clams grow on your shore, You have them brought fresh to your door; Then they are a delicious treat, But canned, they're hardly fit to eat."[1]



  1. 1.0 1.1 DeWan, Rhyme
  3. Grimes, Bard
  4. Death Flushing Journal, 1906.


  • Secondary: Frost, Josephine C. The Haviland Genealogy : Ancestors and Descendants of William Haviland of Newport, Rhode Island, and Flushing, Long Island, 1653-1688 : with special records of the allied families of Field, Hull, Torrey, Willett-Willis. New York, NY: The Lyons Genealogical Co., 1914.
  • Secondary: DeWan, George. His Life's Reason? It's Rhyme. "Long Island: Our Story." []
  • Secondary: Grimes, William. A Poet Without Honor in His Own Country: Queens's Answer to Whitman Never Attained the Eminence of Brooklyn's Bard.
  • Secondary: Death of Bloodgood H. Cutter. New York: The Flushing Journal, Sept. 29, 1906.


  • Cutter, Bloodgood. Lines on the Eqyptian obelisk "Cleopatra's Needle." W. R. Burling, 1881.
  • Cutter, Bloodgood. Poetical lecture, suggested after seeing the model of Solomon's temple. (It also says the Long Island farmer, who delivered the descriptive part standing on the model at Temple Hall, March 5, 1860. New York: L.I. Times Office, 1860.
  • The Long Island farmer's poems. New York: N. Tibbals & Sons, c1886.
  • A poem on the New England kitchen. Little Neck, New York. 1864.


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Images: 3
Bloodgood Haviland Cutter
Bloodgood Haviland Cutter

The Gravestone of Bloodgood Haviland Color, with distant cousin Chris Haviland & son Forest.
The Gravestone of Bloodgood Haviland Color, with distant cousin Chris Haviland & son Forest.

Poems by Long Island Farmer Poet, from the personal collection of Christopher Haviland
Poems by Long Island Farmer Poet, from the personal collection of Christopher Haviland


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