Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Florence Hazard - an American Princess

Florence Ellsworth Hazard was born in New York City on Christmas Day in 1882. She was one of seven children from E.C. Hazard and his wife, Florence Frothingham. Her eldest brother, Elmer, became a doctor and founded Hazard Hospital in Long Branch, New Jersey. Edward Hazard made his fortune in canning operations and in groceries. His motto was "If your grocer cannot furnish, we will deliver to your door."

Florence was only sixteen years old when she married Prince Franz of Auersperg, a scion of an Austrian princely family with close ties to the Imperial Family. The wedding took place at noon on June 14, 1899 at Shrewsbury Manor, which was the Hazards' summer residence, in Shrewsbury, New Jersey. (They also had a home in New York City.) The "decorations were pink and white," and an improvised altar was made of rose and palms. Florence wore a gown made of "white satin, trimmed with point d'Alencon lace and pearl passementerie, the yoke and sleeves being of lace." Her sister, Elizabeth, was the maid of honor, and she was "gowned in pink taffeta with white trimmings." The four bridesmaids were dressed in white over pink organdie gowns.

The best man was the bride's brother, Elmer. Another brother, Bowdoin, was one of the ushers.

Each of the attendants received a present from the bride, a pair of tortoise-shell side combs set in a clover leaf pattern.

After a short wedding trip, the bride and groom will spend the summer at the Highlands of Navesink, and they expect to travel to Europe in the fall.

Although the Hazards were Episcopalians, the couple were married by a Roman Catholic priest, James A. Reynolds of St. James's Church, Red Bank. Prince Franz was Roman Catholic, and it was expected that Florence agreed to raise any children in the Catholic faith.

Until his marriage, Prince Franz lived in Brooklyn, and had recently graduated from the Long Island Medical College.

After the wedding, the bride and groom were driven to the Little Silver train station, where they boarded a train for New York City.

This marriage - and becoming a doctor -- is a change in life for the young prince, who was born in Prague in 1869. He had been a rebellious youth, and having come into his inheritance far too early, Franz "squandered it by extravagant, though not vicious, living, and found himself heavy in debt."

His decline had begun when he joined the Austrian army, but left it "to pursue the delights of wild dissatisfaction." He was often seen in "cafes of doubtful reputation," and was gambling with "low associates, and his escapades made it necessary for him to suddenly leave Vienna" in 1896.

But he was determined to start a new life for himself in America. He worked his way across the Atlantic as a cabin boy. When he arrived in America, he found work as a lift boy in a Philadelphia hotel. He found his way to Brooklyn, where he entered medical school to become a doctor. He dropped the use of his title, and never let anyone know about his noble origins. It was love at first sight with Florence Hazard, whose father was a "millionaire provision dealer."

Franz only revealed his noble ancestry only after Florence had returned his love. She agreed to marry him, but only after he received his degree and established his medical practice.

The prince was described as a "handsome young man of middle height," and Florence, naturally, is "exceptionally beautiful."

The couple moved into a town home at 826 West 78th Street in New York City. The Prince was hired as a doctor at Bayonne City Hospital in New Jersey. In April 1900, the princess was home alone when she was robbed of more than $10,000 in jewels, including five rings set in diamonds, rubies and other precious stones and a diamond brooch of "great value." The jewels were gifts to the princess from members of her husband's family.

The thief was an "unknown man" who had been hired to do electrical work on the house. He got away with the jewels, but had overlooked a pearl necklace, which was worth more than $12,000.

Financial problems, however, continued to plague Dr. von Auersperg. In February 1901, he was forced to file for bankruptcy in New York City. His bankruptcy petition showed that debts that accrued in Berlin, Vienna and Paris. Earlier, all of his Austrian property had been confiscated, and had been divided among the creditors, who included Prince Charles Fürstenberg, Count Fritz Fürstenberg and Count and Countess Coreth, among others. Dr. Auersperg described in his assets as "ten suits of clothes, two overcoats, three hats, four pairs of shoes, twenty-four shirts, twenty-four socks, one set shirt studs, one pair of sleeve links, medical library and all instruments, all worth $555.)

One can only assume that the news of Franz's bankruptcy did not fare well with his wife's family. Had he married her for her money? Eight days after the prince filed his bankruptcy petition, the New York Times reported that the "Princess of Auersperg is very ill," and she was at her parents' home in Shrewsbury. A "trained nurse is in constant attendance."

One can only wonder what went through Florence -- and her family's -- mind when she learned that her husband was still in debt. It seems likely that her father did not offer to pay off the debts, although it is understood that the bankruptcy petition followed the collapse a "Fifth Avenue millinery establishment" In August 1902, she was received into the Roman Catholic church, the "baptismal service" was performed by Father James Reynolds, who had also conducted her marriage.

The marriage collapsed after the death of Florence's father in February 1905. The princess inherited a fortune from her father, and, as she would state in her divorce petition, her husband "considered that all of the inheritance should be put in his name." Florence disagreed, and left her husband, to join her mother in Seabright, New Jersey. Dr. Auersperg moved to Texas, but when war broke out in June 1914, he returned to Austria to become a medical officer with the Austrian Red Cross. In January, 1915, the princess filed for divorce. She testified "that she had exerted every effort for a reconciliation," but was unsuccessful.

The final decree was granted in Hoboken, New Jersey on January 21, 1915 on the grounds of desertion.

On May 1, 1915, Florence married John J. Murphy, a businessman, who was one of nine children of the late Senator Edward Murphy, Jr. The wedding, a civil ceremony, took place at the Seabright home of Florence's youngest sister, Helen Beadleston. Only the immediate family attended the wedding, and the bride had no attendants. After the wedding, the bride and groom "started on a motor tour," and, after their return, planned to live in New York City.

J.J. Murphy died at his Kings Point, New York, home on April 22, 1935, after a brief illness. He was 56 years old. Florence survived her husband for another 25 years. She died in New York on December 10, 1960.

Prince Franz von Auersperg did not remarry. He died at Rzeszow on February 16, 1918.

Both of Florence's marriages were childless. Her younger sister, Helen, was the second wife of Alfred Nash Beadleston, whom she married in 1909. He was 61 years old at the time of the marriage. Helen was 40 years his junior. The couple had two children, Helen, and Alfred Nash, Jr.

Breadleston died in 1915. Alfred Jr. converted his family's brewery into commercial property, and ran for public office. He had two sons, Alfred Nash and William Lawrence, by his first wife, Sylvia Lawrence White.

William Beadleston, a millionaire art dealer, was married in 1967 to Princess Marina Vassilievna Romanov. The couple had four children before their marriage ended in divorce.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this wonderful piece. Had a look and couldn't find a date of death for her. A lovley insight into some of these names who appear in genealogies. Interesting link to the Romanovs too.

More of these articles please !


Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Amazing no genealogy has her date of death. They were divorced in 1915, and he died in 1918, so he fell off the tree rather early. She remarried in 1915, and has an obit in the NYTimes under her married name, Murphy.

DHD said...

Some of the details are incorrect, but by and large a correct history.
My grandmother, Elizabeth Robinson Hazard, who married Harry Lord Powers, is the sister of Florence Elsworth Hazard Von Auresperg.
I used to visit my aunt Florence when she lived in NYC at 515 Park Ave. At that time she was the widow of John J. Murphy. She died in 1960 and is buried in Troy, NY.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...


thanks for your post. Everything in the article is based on the reports of the day. The article does include Florence's date of death, actually. She was buried next to her husband. How did you find this blog?

Daniel Heath said...

Florence was my Great Aunt and remember her very well.She was a Grand Dame to be sure.She died within six months of my Grandmother,her sister.Near the end they had desided to tear down Florence's apartment building so she was living with her sister at the time of her death.Like always it's to late to ask about the Prince.I was to young to know all that had happened.