Friday, August 6, 2010

From Paris to Miss Annette Markoe


L'avenue du Bois de Boulogne connects the Place Charles de Gaulle with the Bois de Boulogne, a park of almost 900 hectares designed by Baron Haussmann. It's a beautiful park, although it's not as idyllic as it used to be.  There is a fair amount of prostitution in the park now. In this early photo, it appears that it was an ideal place for a family promenade. As noted in one of the comments below, the avenue has been renamed Avenue Foch.


Although this is a lovely card, once again the real highlight is the recipient of the card.  The card was sent to Miss Annette Markoe on March 10, 1906 with love from Frank. Annette had an uncle Frank, so this could well have been from him. At the time, she would have been eight years old.

Annette was the daughter of James and Annette Markoe. Her mother was reported to have been a mistress of J.P. Morgan before she married  Dr. Markoe, J.P. Morgan's physician and close friend as well as a prominent surgeon. Although Dr. Markoe had not been married before,  his wife had previously married and divorced William Wetmore. The divorce proceedings and the alimony arrangements were decided by the New York Supreme Court and reported in the NY Times in 1890. Apparently Dr. Markoe's marriage to a divorcee with children was not considered scandalous enough to keep them out of the social pages. In addition to her previous children, they had only one child together - Annette.

In January, 1916,  a coming out party for Miss Annette Markoe was hosted by Mrs. C.C. Cuyler at Sherry's and reported in the New York Times. Annette and her family regularly appeared in the social pages of the New York Times, including for the event of Annette's 1918 marriage to William J. Schieffelin Jr., great grandson of William Vanderbilt, in St. George's Episcopal Church.  The newspaper article related how her father walked her down the aisle, described her dress in great detail, and listed all of the various attendants and their family ties. Two years later, her father, Dr. James Markoe, was shot to death in the same church by an escapee from the mental asylum who is thought to have mistaken him for J.P. Morgan Jr. (link to newspaper article here)

Annette Markoe Schieffelin and her husband had two children. The husband and both children preceded her in death, but when she died in 1997 at the age of 99, she left behind 8 grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren. Here's a link to her NY Times obituary.

I am curious as to what Annette's childhood house might have looked like. Whatever grand residence may have been there on West 55th Street near 5th Avenue was replaced by another building as early as 1920. Those midtown Manhattan residential areas have long since been replaced with commercial buildings and apartments, however the 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church (still standing), would have been visible from their house across the street back in 1906.

If you're interested in finding out more about the Morgans (and the Markoes by default), you may want to read Ron Chernow's House of Morgan. More recently, Jean Strouse has also written a book specifically about J.P. Morgan. Since Morgan died in 1913, there were very few people who knew him who were still alive, but she was able to interview Annette Markoe Schieffelin for the book.

For now, I must give up this story.  It's downright addictive. I started looking at the NY Times archives for C.C. Cuyler and Mrs. C.C. Cuyler and found more than enough interesting information for another post there, including C.C's death by a backwards-moving car in Biarritz in 1909 (his chauffeur was having trouble shifting from third gear to second.) Now I feel somewhat more justified in avoiding cars with stick shift.


24 comments:

  1. Oh a classic post. The postcard is stunning - but the link to the Morgans and the Markoes is fascinating. And, as always Christine, you do such a wonderful job tying it all together and presenting it.

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  2. Although these folks may have been heading to the park, they weren't in it yet- the Ave du Bois de Boulogne (renamed Ave Foch in the 1920's) runs from the Arc de Triomph (in the background) to the park. It does look like a park though, as it was/is lined with chestnut trees and greenery, and is one of the most expensive residential addresses in the world.

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  3. Mr. Anonymous,
    You are right again, which just irks me to no end. I think this means you're cooking dinner tonight.

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  4. Fascinating post! One could spend a lot of time with such interesting folks.

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  5. Shouldn't Maurice Chevalier be standing somewhere singing "Thank Heaven's For Little Girls" as Leslie Caron goes by in a carriage?

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  6. What an interesting post. Imagine finding all that from a name on the back of a postcard. Great research!
    As usual I relate to something in your posts- Even if this really isn't the Bois De Boulogne, it reminds me of watching a bocce ball game (or whatever it's called in France) in the park and looking over and seeing a friend from New York. This was probably 30 years ago but just a couple of years ago I was in Biarritz (where C.C. Cuyler was killed) with that same New York friend.
    Barbara

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  7. Tattered and Lost:

    Now I can't get that song out of my head.

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  8. You're right, Christine, the card's pretty much a standard-issue urban scenic. Great story, and, for fountain pen buffs, a nicely shaded cursive. Jack/Youngstown

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  9. Thank goodness we have company in town and are going OUT for dinner, dodged another bullet....

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  10. Hi Christine - I'm glad I'm not alone with the word verification pet peeve. If you went on holidays, I think it's pretty easy to change for that period.

    Another nice selection of cards!

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  11. A fabulous card, as always, and great story to go along with it. I can't imagine what it would have been like to be so well off to have your life recorded for posterity in the social pages.

    That handwriting is so beautiful, truly a thing of the past.

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  12. What an interesting story and postcard, so much history, so well researched.
    Thank you for visiting my blog and your lovely comment.

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  13. Great postcard and biography! You are so good at placing the cards in historical context!

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  14. Absolutely captivating; I am intrigued with the history of the times, high society, how the scandals may have been overlooked depending on who did what! And that they were accepted in "high society." Am I right you just did all this from the postcard, no relation at all to you? Amazing, again!

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  15. What a wonderful post. I really appreciated the entire story and the card is stunning.

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  16. interesting what one can get from a single postcard. fascinating story.
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  17. Well, what a postcard! Wouldn't you love to have been there just for an afternoon, just to get a flavor of the times in person? Interesting story about Annette and her family. Great research! I hope you and Mr. Anonymous had a great dinner. Perhaps he'll cook dinner another night....

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  18. Wow, great story, thanks for filling us in. Had no clue about the Morgans and the mistress, reminds me of the Stanford White scandal.

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  19. Pat,
    The postcard is no relation to me. I just happened to Google the name; I don't always do that. It could have been another Annette Markoe, but it was easy to confirm which one it was because of the address. Back in the old days, the social pages and newspaper articles regularly printed people's addresses along with the stories.

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  20. I have already paid my dues Nancy, cooked dinner for our 6 guests the night before my post... And the story also made me think of Stanford White as Linda noted, especially with the mention of the name Wetmore, although it was Charles rather than William that was one of the architects who designed NYC's famous Grand Central Terminal.

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  21. Christine, Those New York Times archives are addictive. Great post! How did you get ahold of this card? Just happenstance? With a batch of others? It's all so interesting --- are you sure you weren't Sherlock Holmes in a past life:)

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  22. Trishia,
    This was in a lot of five or six Paris cards I bought. I often don't Google the names of cards I post, but just happened to this time. I love the NY Times archives and some of the other sources. I particularly appreciate that addresses were often included in newspaper reports. Without that confirmation I couldn't have been sure I had the same person.

    No Sherlock Holmes...just snoopy.

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  23. Hi Christine!

    I just purchased a book published in 1928, inscribed to "Mrs. Markoe" - I'm assuming it was to Annette's mother (the wife of James / mistress of JP Morgan). Any thoughts on this? I can't seem to find much information on her mother other than your page (thank goodness for your blog!)!

    Thanks in advance!

    Nafeesa

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