Harry Bensley, 1876-1956: Around the World in an Iron Mask

The first war ruined so many good things.  International travel, for one thing. The story goes that (Englishman) Rupert Brooke was able to cross America with nothing more than a personal calling card. My own (American) grandfather made a pre-war bicycle tour with nothing more than a Bicycle Club ID. His 1915 passport (US) is a single piece of heavy paper folded wallet size, with all the signs of haste in the planning and execution.

So the story of Harry Bensley (that’s him on the left)  is a fraction less preposterous than it seems.  Continue reading

Emilie Busbey Grigsby, 1879-1964: How to Not Marry a Millionaire

Think “Kept Women of the Gilded Age” and you will probably come up with the unfortunate Evelyn Nesbit  Well, everyone loves a murder story, don’t they?

Emilie Grigsby – name probably doesn’t ring a bell. Pity, really. Of the two lives, her’s is quite as scandalous and yet has a far happier ending.

Unlike Ms Nesbit, she came from something. Her great grandfather was James Fisher Robinson (Governor of Kentucky 1862-1863), her father Lewis Braxton Grigsby a colonel in the Union Army. By the end of the war, he had station but no money and was not very good at getting it. He died after his wife Susan gave birth to a son and daughter, leaving her to get by as best she could.

Staying home, proud but poor, was one solution. It wasn’t Susan’s.  She was more of a Scarlett O’Hara type.

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