Monday, March 30, 2009

The Caldwell Sisters

This weekend, I happened upon this elaborate grave in Cave Hill for two women - Mary Guendaline Byrd Caldwell and Mary Elizabeth Breckenridge Caldwell. I snapped a few quick photos and moved on.

Looking over them at home today, it sunk in on me that these were no ordinary women. One's title is "Baroness Von Zedtwitz", and the other was the "Marquise des Monstiers Merinville", whatever that is. So I did a Google search and found this very interesting article in the New York Times, November 16, 1904.

Apparently these were two very well-known and well-to-do ladies in the social circles of NYC, Louisville, and Europe back in the day, and prominent members of the Roman Catholic Church. For reasons not made clear in the article, the Marquise des Monstiers Merinville chose to issue a press release and grant a media interview in order to make a big showy announcement that she was very publicly and bitterly repudiating the Church. Her sister the Baroness, we are told, had already done so.

The whole thing feels as if I've stumbled onto a fascinating forgotten story here, but the shape of which is sketchy. There are 25 articles about them in the New York Times that I haven't digested yet, so there'll no doubt be a followup post about the Caldwell sisters...


Curious in KY said...

I have been fascinated by this monument at Cave Hill for many years (20+). I have found the NY Times articles and some other "who's who" information on the sisters. I hope you do more research and continue to publish additional insights into their story.

Anonymous said...

as a friend of the des Monstiers, would very much enjoy hearing more about your researches