I Wish Mary Louise Belonged to Us

One of my most well-documented Dukes is the one living in New York in the mid to late 1800s. I’ve found records of him teaching, serving in the army, becoming a Reverend in the Episcopalean church, leaving the church and being sued for slander, but I found all this via Google books and nothing in any census records.

I’m still without results on the census, but today while playing around on Google, I made an exciting discovery. It seems that Duke’s wife was quite the woman. I found her bio in a book called “A Woman of the Century: Fourteen-Hundred Seventy Biographical sketches” written in 1893. Here is her bio. (click to enlarge)

It says she was ‘unjustly deprived of her patrimony’ so I wonder if that means her family didn’t want her marrying lowly Duke. Now that I know she changed her name to Frost Ormsby, and that he went by “DC” maybe I can find them on census returns.

I found her school listed in a city directory – it was at 125 West 42nd Street, which will sadly now be completely gone since that’s right in the heart of Times Square.

Here is one of her published poems.

Here is one of her peace movement associations.

And this book says she got a letter from President Grover Cleveland asking her not to use his wife’s name for one of her activist groups!

Here is her story of traveling to Rome as a peace delegate.

But best of all is this New York Times story. The headline is a novel in itself!

PEACE SOCIETIES AT WAR; BELVA LOCKWOOD RECEIVES A SHARP LETTER. Mrs. Mary Frost Ormsby and Hamilton Willeox, President of the New-York State Suffrage Party, Denounced — Two Rival Organizations in the Field-Prospects of Strife on the Docks When Foreign Delegates Arrive — Some Talk About Windbags and Frauds.

Perhaps somewhat less impressive than Mary Louise’s accomplishments, but interesting all the same – I found DC listed as running a branch of the New York Post Office in 1871, where he made $1,500 a year.

It seems that he really did serve in the civil war as a chaplain – here is his nomination by the senate in 1863.

It’s exciting to find these little bits and pieces!


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