Welcome to Staatsburgh State Historic Site's blog! Learn more about the Gilded Age home of Ruth and Ogden Mills!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Granard Bequest Exhibition at Dublin Castle

Recently, items once owned by the Mills' daughter Beatrice were on display at Dublin Castle. Beatrice married an earl who was originally from Ireland, and they were rumored to have met at Dublin Castle.  Since no one on staff was able to make a quick jaunt over to Ireland, we were happy to be able to learn more about the exhibition from curator Joanne Bannon who was instrumental in researching, creating, and installing the exhibition.

One of the prevailing stories of the Gilded Age was the marriage of wealthy American heiresses to titled Europeans.  These transatlantic marriages brought millions of dollars of American money into Europe, primarily England, and gave newly rich American families the opportunity to boast of a connection to royalty and perhaps include a countess in the family.  The Mills family fit perfectly into this trend when Beatrice, one of Ruth and Ogden's twin daughters, married Bernard Arthur William Patrick Hastings Forbes, the 8th Earl of Granard.  Originally from Ireland, Lord Granard was Lord-in-Waiting to Edward VII from 1905-1907, Master of the Horse to both Edward VII and George V, and served as a member of Seanad Eireann for twelve years.  His eldest son, Arthur, succeeded him as Earl when he passed away in 1948.

Countess (Beatrice Mills) and Bernard Forbes, 8th Earl of Granard, married in 1909

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Changing of the Guard:
Who Will Become the Next Queen of Gilded Age Society...?

Caroline Schermerhorn Astor (1830-1908) was undeniably the grande-dame of society for decades.  She reigned over New York Society and the "Four Hundred," as the arbiter of good taste and social acceptance.  By the 1890's, however, she was beginning to slow down.  Her husband, William Backhouse Astor, died in 1892 and her daughter Helen (Roosevelt) died in 1893, which necessitated two years of mourning in a row.  In 1895, Mrs. Astor's entertaining co-conspirator, Ward McAllister, died as well really leaving her without the same gusto for entertaining.  She also was reportedly suffering from dementia, which affected the later years of her life.  Once she was advancing in age and starting to slow down, society was buzzing about who would become the next Mrs. Astor.

Caroline Schermerhorn Astor.jpg
Caroline Schermerhorn Astor (1830-1908)

There were several candidates, but who had the strength, power, and skill to succeed?  Who had the combination of wealth, elegance, beauty, and needed to take over the reigns and lead society?  Let's take a look at the contenders...