Newly-minted millions of dollars found their way across the Atlantic to impoverished titled families with the marriage of American heiresses to members of the nobility. Some were cynical exchanges of dollars for titles while others were true love matches. Mrs. Astor's own family had more than their share, although she looked down her aristocratic nose at many of the parvenues.

Name: Mrs. Astor

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mattie Elizabeth Mitchell, born in Portland, Oregon, 28 August 1866, died in Paris 20 February 1933, was a daughter of U. S. Senator John H. Mitchell of Oregon. He was born John Hipple in Pennsylvania but left his wife and children there and moved to Oregon where he changed his name. In his first of three terms as U. S. Senator, his opponents tried to prevent his being seated, charging him with bigamy, desertion, and living under an assumed name. A Senate committee decided against a full investigation. After his third term as U. S. Senator, he was convicted of land fraud for having received fees for expediting land claims of clients. He died 9 December 1905 while awaiting appeal of his conviction and sentence of imprisonment.

Mattie met her future husband on the Riviera and they were engaged for several years. "This marriage is known to have been a love-match, as Miss Mitchell had no fortune whatever to offer as a dot," reported the newspapers at the time. She married in Paris on 11 February 1892, Francois, 5th Duc de la Rochefoucauld, Duc de Liancourt, Prince de Marcillac, Duc d'Anville, born 21 April 1853, died in Monaco 24 February 1925. The religious ceremony was held at the Church of St. Clothilde in Paris and the bride (whose father was not present) was escorted into the church by the American Ambassador, Whitelaw Reid. Guests included several Americans active in Paris society. After the wedding the bride’s mother remained in Paris for two months as a guest of artist George P. A. Healy who completed the bride’s formal portrait just prior to the wedding.

In 1902 Mattie was sued by the Countess Spottiswood-Mackin (American-born Sally Britton of St. Louis). The Duchess had leased a house from the Countess but left it without paying because it was not adequately heated. The Countess then filed a lien to attach the Duchess’ jewelry to satisfy the unpaid debt. The Countess sued for libel and the Duchess countersued for expenses and damages to her reputation. The court took five years to reach a divided decision which satisfied neither side.

The la Rochefoucaulds had one child, the Duc de Liancourt, born 28 June 1905, who died of meningitis on 11 March 1909 after an illness of six weeks. The Duke de la Rochefoucauld’s younger brother succeeded as the 6th Duke and his line continues. Mattie was buried in the Vault of La Rochefoucauld Castle near Paris.


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