Life as an orphan out on the western frontier was full of hardships. Without parents, orphans bounced around from distant relative to distant relative. It was a lonely life for most, who were often treated like servants in the homes they occupied. According to Levi Hutton, life with his uncle was so unbearable he ran away to fight Indians at age 15, only to return on account of his empty stomach. But by 18, he had headed out west to make it on his own. In 1887, Levi married fellow orphan May Arkwright, and moved to Wallace, Idaho seeking fortune. After investing all they owned in Wallace's Hercules mine, the Huttons struck it rich in 1901.
Though their lives were changed by wealth, they never forgot their orphaned pasts. Having moved to Spokane in 1907, the Huttons were actively involved in community charity organizations.The two were very involved at the Florence Crittenton Home which housed unwed mothers and their children, and often took groups of orphans to the circus and other events. Having no children themselves, the Huttons even provided a loving home for several children under their temporary care.
After May Hutton's death in 1915, Levi Hutton, who often recalled the hardships of his childhood, began planning a home for children who have been abandoned, orphaned, or abused. This home, according to Hutton would provide a loving home that fostered self-reliance and confidence in the children it housed. In 1917, Levi Hutton had established the Hutton Settlement on over 300 acres of land. The settlement was designed to provide a "Happy Home" for children while teaching them skills through working on the farms located on the site. The Settlement is privately funded through a carefully organized trust funded by the Hutton fortune, and was intended to be self-sufficient by using the crops grown on the property for food. In addition to the 9 buildings on the site, there is a barn, vegetable garden, and land for farming.
Upon his death, Levi Hutton secured the future of the Hutton Settlement by giving almost all of the Hutton fortune to to the project. Levi Hutton believed bequeathing his and his wife's fortune to the home was the right thing to do. To this day the Hutton Settlement continues Levi Hutton's vision of providing a home for children. It continues to focus on providing a home and family for those who have none. The Settlement's continued commitment to the well-being of children is a standing testament to the Huttons and will continue to be for years to come.
For more information on the Hutton Settlement please visit their website: http://www.huttonsettlement.org/