Thursday, February 22, 2024

Duchess said to be prostrated by husband's death

February 22, 1920

The Duchess of Oporto is said to be "prostrated by her husband's death on Saturday," according to a special cable to the New York Times.

The American-born duchess, who was born Nevada Stoody in 1870, has been by her husband's bedside at their home, the Palazzo Reale, in Naples, ever since her husband suffered a stroke three months ago. His "paralysis was so great that he was unable to follow what was going on around him," but the Duchess refused to believe that his illness "meant a fatal ending."

Infante Afonso, Duke of Oporto, died in Naples Italy, on February 21.  He was 54 years old.   The Duke was the younger son of the late King Luis I of Portugal and Princess Maria Pia of Savoy.

The Duke of Oporto's nephew, the exiled king Manoel, has been staying on the Riviera for the last three weeks, and has not "shown a great deal of sympathy with his uncle," and he has not made any inquiries "as to his health."

The Duke, a younger brother of the late King Carlos, who was assassinated in 1908, was a very popular member of the Portuguese royal family. Many believe that if the Duke had succeeded to the throne in 1908, the revolution "which came in 1910 would have been averted."

Before the Duke's illness became acute, he and his wife had planned to visit America. It was also understood "that it has been her earnest wish to make her reception into the Roman Catholic church widely known." She converted to Catholicism in a formal ceremony in Rome, shortly after her marriage. 

 The Braganzas are one of "the most prominent Catholic families in Europe."  

The Duke was Nevada's fourth husband.  Her first marriage to Lee Albert Agnew took place in 1897 and ended in divorce in 1905.  She and Agnew, the father of her only child, Lee Albert Agnew, Jr.,  have remained friends.  The day after she was divorced from Agnew, she married 71-year-old William Hayes Chapman.  He died in 1907 and left her more than $8 million dollars.

In 1909, she married Philip Henry Van Volkenburgh, Jr.  This marriage was dissolved by divorce in 1914.   Nevada van Volkenburgh met the Duke of Oporto during a visit to Rome, where they were married in a civil ceremony on November 23, 1917.  Dom Afonso's marriage to the thrice-married Nevada was treated as morganatic and other members of the Portuguese royal family including the exiled King Manoel II do not consider Afonso's widow as a member of the royal family.

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