Vanderbilt Family

When W.H.  Vanderbilt died in 1885, his will provided some insight into the confusion of mansions along Fifth Avenue. His  “heirs-at-law and next of kin” were

  1. Marie Louise Vanderbilt, the widow, living at No. 640 Fifth Avenue
  2. Cornelius Vanderbilt, a son, living at No. 1 West Fifty-seventh Street
  3. Margaret Louise Shepard, a daughter, living at No. 2 West Fifty-second Street
  4. William Kissam Vanderbilt, a son, living at No. 660 Fifth Avenue
  5. Emily Thorn Sloane, a daughter, living at No. 642 Fifth Avenue
  6. Florence Adele Twombly, a daughter, living at No. 684 Fifth Avenue
  7. Frederick W. Vanderbilt, a son, living at No. 459 Fifth Avenue
  8. Eliza O. Webb, a daughter, living at No. 680 Fifth Avenue
  9. George W. Vanderbilt, a son, living at No. 640 Fifth Avenue.

vanderbilt II residence

In 1879 W.H. Vanderbilt purchased the entire block between  51st and 52nd Streets, where he built two  brownstones for his daughters (referred to in documents simply as Mrs. William D. Sloane and Mrs. Elliott F. Shepard, as if they had no first names of their own). An atrium separated W.H.’s residence from his daughters’.  In a confusing move, the two brownstones were sometimes called the “Vanderbilt Twins” and sometimes the “Triple Palace.”  Possibly because there were three households represented.

W.H.’s  son William Kissam Vanderbilt (husband of Alva) bought the next building site to the north, on the north-west corner of 52nd Street.  The Petit Chateau was designed by Richard Morris Hunt  and was under construction from 1879-1883. In March of that year Alva Vanderbilt threw a masked ball to celebrate.  Before the  new mansion was ready, they lived in the very exclusive small town of Oakdale. Note that W.K. gave his occupation as Railroad King (click on the thumbnail for a larger image).

At his father’s death W.K.’s portion of the estate came to what today would be about $1.3 billion.

Vanderbilt census 1880

Cornelius Vanderbilt II — the second son — built his mansion (designed by George B. Post and Richard Morris Hunt) on Fifth Avenue between 57th and 58th Streets. In 1879leted in 1882 and later expanded. Demolished 1927.

Vanderbilt triple mansions
Vanderbilt triple mansions

Three three mansions that occupied the entire block between 51st and 52nd Street

Vanderbilt Petit Chateau
Vanderbilt Petit Chateau

Alva Vanderbilt’s obsession.

Webb and Twombly Mansions at 680 and 684 5th Avenue
Webb and Twombly Mansions at 680 and 684 5th Avenue

The Twombly residence was  on the corner with the Webb mansion beside it. Beyond the Webb house is St. Thomas’s Church.

Savard Family

The first member of the Savard family to enter into the larger story arc is Paul Savard. When Hannah Bonner goes to Manhattan to learn how to perform vaccinations, she studies with a physician employed at the Kine-Pox Institute.

Originally of New Orleans, Paul Savard will return to the story in Queen of Swords, along with other members of the family who play major roles in the rest of the series, and in The Gilded Hour.

Click for full size.
Click for full size.

Sister Mary Irene FitzGibbon

Sister Mary Irene Fitzgibbon (1823-1896)
Sister Mary Irene Fitzgibbon (1823-1896)

birth name: Catherine Rosamund FitzGibbon

birth place: London, England

death place: New York City, New York, United States

death cause: heart disease

SISTER MARY IRENE DEAD; THE FOUNDER OF THE FOUNDLING ASYLUM. An Institution Which Has Cared for Thousands of Abandoned Children — The Dead Woman a Skillful Ennager — Through Her Efforts Seton Hospital Was Also Established — Great Success in Caring for the Little Ones…. Sister Mary Irene, who for twenty-seven years was at the head of the work of saving the lives of homeless infants in New-York City, is dead. The malady from which she had patiently suffered for forty years, and which ended her life at 7:30 o’clock yesterday morning, was heart disease, but the primary cause of her death was the heat. New York Times 15 August 1896

resting place: Sisters’ Cemetery, College of Mount Saint Vincent, Bronx, New York

known for:  Founder of New York Foundling Hospital

occupation:  Sisters of Charity, Roman Catholic religious sister, orphanage director, teacher

 
On October 11, 1869 Sister Mary Irene Fitzgibbon and two other Sisters of Charity welcomed their first abandoned infant to their brownstone on East 12th street
 Silver Jubilee of the Foundling 1894
 Silver Jubilee of the Foundling 1894 (click to enlarge)

Anthony Comstock

Anthony Comstock (March 7, 1844 – September 21, 1915) was a United States Postal Inspector and politician dedicated to ideas of Victorian morality.
Anthony Comstock (March 7, 1844 – September 21, 1915) was a United States Postal Inspector and politician dedicated to ideas of Victorian morality.

birth place: New Canaan, Connecticut, United States

death place: Summit, New Jersey, United States

organization: United States Postal Inspection Service

known for: Creation of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice and the
Comstock Act

occupation: United States Postal Inspector

Comstock appears in The Gilded Hour as a minor character in courtroom scenes.

Comstock was a self-proclaimed ‘Weeder in the Garden of the Lord’ who sought to impose his understanding of law and sin on the general public and the man behind the Comstock Act.

As the secretary of the New York Society for the Prevention of Vice, Comstock conducted raids on anyone or anything he suspected of breaking obscenity laws, including doctors, who were forbidden by the Act to provide patients with information about contraception or birth control. He was a major force in the criminalization of all kinds of contraception. He even went so far as to do undercover investigations of brothels, and to report what he saw there in detail (see Prostitution).

In addition to objections to almost every expression of human sexuality, he pursued and prosecuted lottery ticket sales, gambling, writers such as George Bernard Shaw, and rubber goods importers, who he deemed a threat to the morals of the nation.

He drove more than one person to suicide, and bragged about it.

Comstock’s efforts to instill morality on the country lead him to a persecution of D.M. Bennett, editor of Truth Seeker, the most influential publication of its time dedicated to “science, morals, free thought, free discussions, liberalism, sexual equality, labor reform progression, free education, and whatever tends to elevate and emancipate the human race.” He succeeded in getting Bennett convicted and sent to federal prison, where his health was ruined. He died a short while after his release.

D. M. Bennett

DeRobigne Mortimer Bennett (December 23, 1818 – December 6, 1882) was the founder and publisher of Truth Seeker, a radical freethought and reform American periodical. Bennett was a devout member of the Shakers for 13 years before evolving into a “freethinker”, founding the Truth Seeker newspaper in 1873. In 1878, Bennett wrote that “Jesuism”, rather than Pauline Christianity, was the gospel taught by Peter, John and James.

On 1 September 1873, D.M. and M.W. Bennett released the first tabloid edition of the Truth Seeker.  It was “Opposed to: priestcraft, ecclesiasticism, dogmas, creeds, false theology, superstition, bigotry, ignorance, monopolies, aristocracies, privileged classes, tyranny, oppression, and everything that degrades or burdens mankind,,,

Read more in Wikipedia

Selected Sources

  • Bailey, Martha J. “Momma’s Got the Pill: How Anthony Comstock and Griswold v. Connecticut Shaped US Childbearing.” American Economic Review 100.1 (2010): 98–129. Primo. Web.
  • Bates, Anna Louise. Weeder in the Garden of the Lord : Anthony Comstock’s Life and Career. Lanham, Md: University Press of America, 1995. Print.
  • Beisel, Nicola Kay. Imperiled Innocents: Anthony Comstock and Family Reproduction in Victorian America. Princeton University Press, 1998. Print.
  • Bennett, De Robigne Mortimer. “Anthony Comstock: His Career of Cruelty and Crime.” (1878): n. pag. Print.
  • Blanchard, Margaret A, and John E Semonche. “Anthony Comstock and His Adversaries: The Mixed Legacy of This Battle for Free Speech.” Communication Law and Policy 11 (2006): 317–366. Print.
  • Broun, Heywood. Anthony Comstock, Roundsman of the Lord. Trade ed.. New York: A& CBoni, 1927. Print.
  • Comstock, Anthony. Frauds Exposed: Or, How the People Are Deceived and Robbed, and Youth Corrupted. J. H. Brown, 1880. Web.
  • —. New York Society for the Prevention of Vice Annual Report. N.p., 1883. Print.
  • —. The Ninth Annual Report of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. New York: N.p., 1883. Print.
  • Garlson, Allan C. “Comstockery, Contraception, and the Family The Remarkable Achievements of an Anti-Vice Crusader.” Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society n. pag. Print.
  • Heywood, Ezra Heywood. Free Speech Report of Ezra H. Heywood’s Defense : Before the United States Court in Boston, April 10, 11 and 12, 1883 : Together with Judge Nelson’s Charge to the Jury, Notes of Anthony Comstock’s Career of Cruelty and Crime, Tragic and Comic Incidents in the Malicious, Savage Persecution, Suffered by Moral Scientists Devoted to Social Evolution and Other Interesting Matter. Princeton, Mass: Co-Operative PubCo, 1883. Print. Making of Modern Law : Trials, 1600-1926.
  • LaMay, Craig L. “America’s Censor: Anthony Comstock and Free Speech.” Communication Law and Policy 19 (1997): 1. Print.
  • “Sharp Practice by Mr. Comstock.: He Procures Another Indictment Against Mrs. Chase It Is Set Aside.” New York Times 11 July 1878: 3. Print.
  • West, Mark I. “The Role of Sexual Repression in Anthony Comstock’s Campaign to Censor Children’s Dime Novels.” Journal of American Culture 22.4 (1999): 45–49. Web.
  • Wood, Janice Ruth. The Struggle for Free Speech in the United States, 1872-1915: Edward Bliss Foote, Edward Bond Foote, and Anti-Comstock Operations. Routledge, 2011. Print.