Saturday, August 30, 2008

More Gossip about Boris

Talk about dissipated and being a roué. Grand Duke Boris of Russia would win both categories hands down. Grand Duke Boris, who was the second son of Grand Duke Wladimir of Russia, and thus, a first cousin to Nicholas II, was about to become engaged, according to gossip reports making the rounds in Europe in 1907. The woman in question was an America, Ida von Claussen, whose father, Adolph von Claussen, was a wealthy merchant. When she was only 19-years-old, Ida married William Francis Honan. They were divorced in 1905. Ida resumed her maiden name, and moved to Coburg, Germany, with her eldest daughter. She was "tall, with a splendid figure, and a most engaging manner," according to one report,
Ida was about to become engaged to Prince Paul Ouroussoff, the son of Russia's ambassador to Austria. The Ouroussof family, according to the Los Angeles Times, was one of oldest noble families in Russia, and after the Romanovs, the Ouroussof family "claim the next right to the throne."
Prince Paul proposed marriage after only knowing Ida for a week, but he wanted the engagement to be kept secret,from his family. Enter Prince Paul's best friend: Grand Duke Paul. He told the grand duke about his new love. Boris decided he needed to head to Germany to pay his respects to Paul's fiancee. Boris found the American woman to be "entrancing." He fell "head over heels" with Ida von Claussen, and was determined to make her his wife.
Boris did not tell Ida that he was a Grand Duke. He introduced himself as a Russian nobleman, and used a princely title as a nom de plume. Ida, flattered by this attention, told Boris "Even if you were a Grand Duke of Russia, I would not break my word with my fiance." Boris' allegedly responded with: "I am proud that my friend has such a brave bride, and I shall be with him, though his family oppose him."
It is said that Prince Paul's father has asked the Czar to interfere and forbid the marriage. Prince Paul fled Russia, and his family feared that he will run off with his American love. He didn't, although Prince Paul did pursue Ida to Rome, where she allegedly was also in love with an Italian prince. She married neither man.
Ida von Claussen featured often in the pages of the papers in the first decade of the 20th century. Due to her erratic behavior, a New York Court in 1910, asked her father to have her committed to an institution. He declined. In 1911, a judge sent Ida to the Bloomingdale State Hospital for the Insane. She was released several months later into the custody of her brother. In April 1913, her engagement to a Briton Fred L. Davis. Later that year, she was sent to jail for threatening the life of the head of New York's Water Board.
In September 1920, she married Raymond H. Mayberry, a "cinema artist." Six days later, she filed for an anullment, saying she married Mayberry "to get rid of him. He had been following me around the country for two years, begging me to be his wife. He threatened to take poison if I did not become his wife."
Not surprising, Mayberry told another story. He said that he now believed that Ida was still married to her second husband, Frank Donagan, whom she married in 1913, not longer after she had been released from a mental institution.
Ida von Claussen Davis Dona Mayberry (as she was referred to in the New York Times) withdrew the suit against Mayberry. She said she would return to him if he paid her $50,000 for the reconciliation. She also told the judge that she was still married to Dona (the name she used for Donagan), but she did not consider him her husband. She said her brother forced her to marry Dona/Donagan.
Ida said she would remain in Reno, Nevada, where "the divorce courts are handy."
After spending seven years in Europe, where she tried to establish the legal right of a son who she said was born in Germany, Ida made "a frantic attempt" to re-enter the U.S.,to claim a share of her grandfather's estate. Ida was a frequent litigant in court cases in New York.
By the late 1920s, she faded into obscurity.

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