Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Sweet Adeline (A Spoiler)

Mrs. Adeline De Mare, Widow of Professor Georges De Mare.

Sometime this week, or maybe next, the 100 year old blog will be reporting the return to Kansas City of 21-year-old Lady Adeline Somerset, who had recently married the son of England's Lord Henry Somerset, in spite of her father's opposition to marriages between American girls and titled Europeans. After a whirlwind romance in Paris and low-key wedding in England, the young bride would come back to Kansas City and wait for the son of Lord Somerset as he tried to smooth things over with his angry parents who also disapproved of such marriages, especially his famous mother, Lady Henry Somerset.

When she left Kansas City for Paris almost two years earlier, she was 19 years old and her name was Mrs. Adeline Hunter De Mare. There may have been few girls in Kansas City at that time who deserved romance in Paris with a fairytale ending as much as poor Mrs. De Mare, one of our city's youngest widows in 1907.

In December, 1906, at the age of 19, she married the head of the art department at Kansas City's Central High School, a painter named Georges De Mare, a well-liked and popular artist who grew up and was educated in Paris. Besides teaching, he maintained an art studio on the fifth floor of the University Building in Kansas City. Six months after his marriage to young Adeline, the University Building caught fire and Georges De Mare leaped to his death from his fifth story window as a crowd below watched in horror, leaving his teen-aged bride a widow.
Georges De Mare, Central High School Art Department Head Killed in the University Building Fire
Georges De Mare
A "prostrated" young Adeline had a hard time picking up the pieces after the tragic death of the artist she loved, so her also-grieving parents sent her to Paris to study music at the Sorbonne. After completing her course of study she prepared to return to the states, but along came the son of Lord Somerset, they married in England, and the rest is history... or is it?

Listing his title as "Baron Seymour" on the marriage license, he had courted and won the heart of Mrs. De Mare posing as a plain Englishman, and there was a good reason that he did that ... it was because he really was a plain Englishman. The whole "Lord Somerset" routine was just a ruse, you see. Mrs. Adeline Somerset and her mother returned to Kansas City and awaited the arrival of the noble bridegroom, and they waited, and waited. Mr. Somerset was never to be seen or heard from again.

It won't appear in The Journal for some time, but the Baynord Advocate of Baynor, Iowa brings us a story out of London on August 4, 1910, that would quickly spread around the world:

London, Aug. 1. -- The Henry Charles Somers Augustus Somerset, who posed as
"Lord Somerset," against whom suit has been filed at Independence, Mo., for divorce by Mrs. Adeline Hunter de Mare Somerset, is a fraud so far as his title goes. Who this Henry Charles Somers Augustus Somerset may be is not known here. But there is no such titled person as Lord Somerset...
This information may have been released to quell the suspicions of many in America who felt that the man was not an imposter, merely an in-noble nobleman. The Washington Post had stated on July 24, 1910,

"At any rate, as the matters stand now, the real Henry Somers Somerset is subjected in America and in the eyes of the American people to an imputation of absolute bigamy, and in view of the publicity which has been given to the charge, it is high time that he or his relatives should take some steps to clear up the mystery..."

Her divorce decree was granted January 4, 1911, and it's clear she dropped the surname "Somerset" quickly. It is also clear that she didn't remarry anytime soon.

1915 finds her as a 26-year old on the faculty at Bethany College in Kansas, using the name "Adeline De Mare".

The Internet Archive shows us that in 1920 she was a 31-year old woman teaching French at Indiana University in Bloomington, after receiving an A. B. degree from the University of Kansas in 1917.

The 1923 Phi Beta Kappa General catalog shows a 34-year old sorority sister Adeline De Mare living in Washington, D. C.

And then I lost track of her, and that's where I figured this story would end. Would we ever find out if she would find love again, or get married? Did her French students know about the husband she lost in the fire, or her whirlwind romance in Paris? Had they heard of Lord Somerset? And did she ever go back to France?

Then a break... in the Google books I found this snippet view from an East Coast Social Register dated 1955:

Armed with that information, I was able to discern she had married one Emerson Latting, a Yale graduate, and taking this information back to the internets we find in the New York Times this wedding announcement:

And returning to the Ellis Island website, we see that in 1924, Mrs. Adeline Latting arrived back from Europe on the Steamship Leviathan, departing from the Port of Cherbourg, France, with her husband at her side.

The Federal census shows that in 1930, Mr. and Mrs. Latting lived on the isle of Manhattan in New York City.

So yes she found love again, yes she got married again, and yes she made it back to France. If you look at her record, you'll see that she traveled to lots and lots of places.

On August 5, 1955, the New York Times reported, "Mrs. Emerson Latting Dies." Her death announcement read like this:

"Mrs. Emerson Latting, 67 years old, died in her apartment at 535 Park Avenue early yesterday morning. Mr. Latting found his wife, who had been under a physician's care for arthritis, lying on the floor of her bedroom at 3:35 A. M. He called for help and detectives and a doctor from Roosevelt Hospital went to the apartment. Later the Medical Examiner's office attributed the death to natural causes. Mrs. Latting was the former Adeline Hunter."

And her obituary said:

The historical record of her death does little to inform readers about the fascinating life she lived, the tragedy and humiliation she suffered, or her triumphant return to a life of (I hope) much happiness.

And there you have it, my friends, an extraordinary life of a Kansas City girl, uncovered solely by digging through internet sources like Google Books, Ellis Island, the New York Times archives, the Internet Archives, and Oh, and the 100 Year Old Weblog, of course, without which Mrs. Adeline Hunter De Mare (Somerset) Latting's story might have forever been buried in obscurity.


HdM said...

my name is Helene de mare and my husband is now morking on the de mare's genealogy.
We want to thank you for that nice story of adeline who has been shortly a member of our family. We found the information about the Somerset marriage but it was not possible.

Thanks again to you and your research.
We live in Paris but a large part of the family is living in Netherlands and also in the USA.

Hélène and Patrick de Mare

L A Little said...

Thank you so much. I am very interested in the life of Georges De Mare. He was buried in the same cemetery as my grandmothers. I will get a picture of his headstone this spring and send it to you. Wonderful to hear from you!

Hyperblogal said...

Great detective work.... very satisfying when one piece of info leads to many more.... :)

Unknown said...

A couple of other points about Adeline Hunter de Mare Latting. Her half brother, they had the same father was Morton Parke Hunter considered one of the world's noted banjoists in the period 1895-1912. He toured for a while under the team name of "Mays and Hunter" They toured Enland and the US. Mays was out of the picture by 1903 and Hunter died in DC in 1912.
Also Adeline Hunter's grandfather, Morton Craig Hunter was a Civil War General.
In addition, Adeline Hunter's first husband, George de Mare was the grandson of the noted artist George Peter Alexander Healy of Chicao, and Paris France.