|Henry Morrison Flagler
The Flagler family moved from Bladen Germany to the New York colony. Solomon Flagler was Henry's
grandfather born May 8, 1760 and died Nov 24, 1839. His grandmother was Esther Elizabeth Ostrom (April 19,
1760 - Oct 30, 1813). She had 11 children one of whom was named Henry, Isaac's brother. They were married
in the Presbyterian church in Dutchess April 30, 1780.
1828 Sept 15 Isaac Flagler (22 April 1789 in Dutchess county, New York - July 23 1876) and Elizabeth
Caldwell Harkness (1794 - 1861) of Geneva were married by Rev. Dr. Axtell at the Geneva Presbyterian. Rev.
Isaac Flagler was Pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Fayette, Seneca Co. In 1823 Rev. Isaac Flagler was the
pastor of the The First Church of Christ in Sidney. Elizabeth Harkness was the widow of Dr. Daniel Harkness of
Milan, Ohio. She had been previously married Hugh Morrison who also died. Her son Stephen Harkness was a
successful businessman. Rev Flagler was the widower of Ruth Delano Smith and Jane B. Ward. In 1836 Rev.
Flagler moved to Toledo Ohio. He was a supply pastor of the Toledo Presbyterian Church. He was a supply
pastor from the American Home Missionary Association. He was heavily involved in the temperance movement (in
1838 he was president of the Temperance Society) and the fight for racial equality. He was relieved from his
position for performing an interracial marriage. In August of 1844 Isaac Flagler returned to Hopewell, New York
and became the full time pastor of Hopewell Presbyterian.
The children of Rev. Isaac Flagler include: Mary Hester Flagler and Jane Augusta Flagler from his wife Jane B.
Ward. Anne Carolyn Flagler (called Carrie) from his marriage with Ruth Delano Smith.
1830 January 2 Birth of Henry Morrison Flagler in Hopewell, New York. He was born in the Hopewell
Presbyterian church parsonage where his father had been the supply pastor for 1828 and baptized on August 22,
1830. He was named after his uncle Henry and Elizabeth's first husband. He dropped out of school in the 8th
grade. He went west serving as a deck hand on Erie Canal Boats. At the Erie Canal he encountered the new use
of cement in making the canal. In 1844 he arrived at Republic, Ohio to live with half-brother (in the store) and
worked at L. G. Harkness and Company. He arrived with a French coin, a nickel, and four pennies. (Flagler
would keep the French coin for the rest of his life.) 1849 moved to Bellevue for a job at Chapman, Harkness and
Company. His sister Jane Flagler North died in East Bloomfield, New York. 1852 he became a partner in
Harkness and Company a grain company. The company also ran a distillery.
November 9, 1853 Henry married Mary Harkness On March 1, 1855 Jenny Louise Flagler was born (died
March 25, 1889). On June 18,1858 Carrie Flagler born (named after Henry's half-sister.) In 1861 Elizabeth
Chapman Harkness Flagler (mother) dies. On December 7, 1861Â Carrie dies (Carrie is 3 year old.)
1865 Flagler and York Salt Company went bust with salt production. During the Civil War salt was essential
preparing meat for the military. So many people had invested in salt production that a bubble occurred which burst
on the conclusion of the war. Henry moved to Cleveland. In 1867 he partnered in Rockefeller, Andrews and
Flagler, a oil refinery company in Cleveland, Ohio. He bought a house on Euclid Ave with 9 rooms. 1870 January
11 Standard Oil Company incorporated as a joint stock company. Harry Harkness Flagler was born December 2,
1870 In July 1876Â Isaac Flagler (father) dies. 1877 Standard Oil moves its headquarters to New York and the
Flagler family also moves to New York. Their city home was on the corner of Fifty-fourth Street at Fifth Avenue.
In New York he renovates Satanstoe a 40 room summer home on 32 acres on Long Island sound. (This land was
made famous by a book by James Fenimore Cooper entitled Satanstoe in 1845.) After all his renovations he
renamed his property Lawn Beach but the name Satanstoe stuck. Flagler bought a yacht called the Columbia.
(He would also own over time the sloop Eclipse, the schooner Columbia and the yacht Alicia.)1878 Trip to
Jacksonville, Florida. On May 18, 1881 Jenny Louise married John Arthur Hinckley. This marriage would last 11
years, end in a charge of adultery and no children. Mary Harkness Flagler died 1882. January 2Â Standard Oil
1883 June 5 Married Ida Alice Shourds (born July 4, 1848, died July 10,1930) at the Madison Avenue
Methodist Church in New York. Ida was Mary Harkness Flagler's nurse. Henry was 53 and Ida Alice Shourds a
former actress was 35. She had bright blue eyes, a profusion of red hair, and a violent and often uncontrollable
temper. 1883 December honeymoon to Florida through March 1, 1884. He originally stayed at the St. James
Hotel in Jacksonville. They toured to an unknown St. Augustine location 1885 after a trip up the St. Johns River to
Tocoi. February 17 he returned to St. Augustine stayed at San Marco Hotel witnessed the celebration of the
landing of Ponce de Leon in March 1885. He met with San Marco builder James A. McGuire and San Marco
hotel manager Osborn D. Seavey and made a new friend in Dr. Andrew Anderson (who would put together the
land for the Ponce de Leon Hotel.) He also talked to Franklin Smith who convinced him of the value of cement
and coquina construction for the new hotels through his home Villa Zorada.
Building of St. Augustine Hotels and other structures
1885 December 1 ground breaking on the Ponce de Leon Hotel 1887 May or June ground breaking for Alcazar
Hotel by hotels designed by the new firm of John Carriere and Thomas Hastings. In 1887 May Henry Flagler sells
land to Franklin Smith to build the Casa Monica 1887 May 30 Ponce de Leon finished 1887 since the winter
season is past hotel will open in 1888. October 6 Jenny Louise married Frederick Hart Benedict 1888. January
10 Ponce de Leon (a 540 room hotel opened 1888.) April 20 Henry Flagler buys the Casa Monica Hotel with all
furnishings, renamed the Cordova. 1888 May 22 Henry Flagler assembles women at Ponce de Leon to discuss
plans to build a hospital. 1888 December 25 Alcazar Hotel opens 1889. February 9 Jennie Louise gives birth to a
baby girl 1889, Margery who dies a few hours after birth. Â Jennie gets progressively worse and doctors
recommend a trip to Florida. March 25, 1889 Jennie Louise Benedict dies on Elias C. Benedict's, her
father-in-law, yacht Oneida outside the Charleston, South Carolina harbor as Henry Flagler awaits at the dock.
(This yacht would later become famous again as the "floating hospital" where President Grover Cleveland had his
surgery for cancer in 1893.) Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, North was built by Flagler in part to pay for the
land acquired for the Alcazar Hotel.
In St. Augustine Henry Flagler also build laundry facilities, the Casino attached to the Alcazar, the barracks for
workers, an artist studio, the railway station, (which he moved from the grounds of the San Marco Hotel,) the
railway hospital, the YMCA, the jail, the rehab of the Cathedral with the addition of the tower after the Cathedral
burned, and the Ancient City Baptist Church. He paved streets, built a water works to bring non-sulphur water to
the hotels, a sewer system for the hotels, and an electric plant for the hotels.
In addition his hotels brought artists, musicians, bands for entertainment to St. Augustine. He started sports
entertainment such as tennis, golf, swimming, bicycling, baseball and bowling.
1890 January 20 completed bridge across the St. Johns River at Jacksonville (see some companies owned by
Henry Flagler) 1890 March 1 Alicia Hospital opened. 1890 March 16 Memorial Presbyterian Church dedicated
in memory of Jennie Louise Benedict. 1892 Charter from the State of Florida to allow building of railroad to
Miami 1892 Feb 3 Grand Ball Hermitage Ball commemorative of Andrew Jackson. This would become the
highlight of Ida Alice's St. Augustine social life. 1892 May 28 incorporated the Florida Coast and Gulf Railway
Company. Flagler moves on March 1,1892 into Kirkside (beside the church) Ida Alice's St. Augustine Mansion.
It was designed by Carriere and Hastings and constructed by McGuire and McDonald. 1892 August Town of
West Palm Beach laid out. 1892 first trip by Mary Lilly to St. Augustine. 1893 The Jacksonville, St. Augustine &
Halifax; Indian River Ry. trademark of pineapple.
Hotels and Railroads Expand South
Opening on January 1, 1888 in Ormond Beach was the Ormond Hotel built by John Anderson of Portland Maine
and Joseph Price of Kentucky. An interest in the hotel was bought by Flagler in 1890. He fully purchased the hotel
and land in 1891 for $112,500. McGuire and McDonald were called on to expand and renovate the new hotel. It
was expanded eventually to 600 rooms. It was a massive wood structure. The hotel would later contain an 18 hole
golf course and would later be the scene of automobile racing. The railroad was extended to Daytona Beach.
Eventually the railroad main line would run from Jacksonville to Key West a distance of 522 miles. When the
railroad was finally completed it would contain 765 miles of tracks.
In 1893 Flagler purchased 140 acres on the Atlantic Ocean in what would become Palm Beach. February 11,
1894 Royal Poinciana opened in West Palm Beach which was a 1150 room structure. It was the largest wooden
structure for its time in the world. 1894 March 22 railroad reaches Lake Worth (named after General William
Worth of Seminole Indian War fame). 1894 March 31 Henry Flagler gives control of the Ponce de Leon, Alcazar
and Cordova hotels to Harry. April 2, 1894 the railroad was completed to West Palm Beach. 1894 April 5 Harry
Harkness Flagler marries Miss Anna Louis Lamont (May 12, 1870 - Dec 18, 1940) in New York.
1895 work begins on the Palm Beach Inn which would later be called The Breakers. 1896 built the Palm Beach
Inn (renamed the Breakers Hotel in 1901) overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Palm Beach. The Palm Beach Inn
served as an entertainment center for the Royal Poinciana like the Alcazar to the Ponce de Leon Hotel. The Beach
Casino had a saltwater pool 150 feet by 50 feet and a gallery that surrounded the pool. It originally contained 250
guest rooms. In the new Breakers in 1901 the building was enlarged by McGuire and McDonald. In 1903 a fire
destroyed the building which was reopened in 1904 as a even larger hotel.
September 13 railroad name changed to Florida East Coast Railway. James Ingraham who would be in charge of
the Model Land Company was responsible for the building and development of Palm Beach. Also in 1894 Flagler
buys the St. Augustine Daily Herald and on August 30, 1899 he merges it with The St. Augustine Record.
Buying up newspapers throughout the state guaranteed Flagler a good press. In 1896 he built the port of Palm
Beach which included a 1000 foot pier into the ocean. In Palm Beach Flagler built the first 9 hole golf course in the
State of Florida.
Flagler Empire Goes Overseas
In 1898 Flagler bought the already famous Royal Victorian Hotel in Nassau. The hotel had existed from the time
of the American Civil War. McGuire and McDonald renovated the hotel with electricity, private bathrooms,
decorations to the structure and improvements to the grounds.
He then built the Colonial Hotel. The Colonial would be the more expensive stay. The hotel had 350 rooms and
could house 600 guests. The hotel included tennis courts, a greenhouse and a swimming pool.
He instituted a steamship line between Miami and Nassau delivering the mail, freight and boatloads of winter
tourists. Flagler formed the Florida East Coast Steamship company which ran boats to Nassau, Miami and Key
West. Joseph R Parrott the Vice President of the FEC became the Vice President of the Steamship company. The
Northumberland was the first steamship that traveled between Miami and Nassau. The Shelter Island was the
first ship to Key West but sunk on it's maiden's voyage. The Biscayne traveled to Miami. Della was the second
boat to Miami. In 1898 with the creation of Flagler Miami the terminus of the railroad and the steamship line was
transferred to Miami. The Monticello was the next boat chosen for the voyage to Nassau from Miami. The City
of Richmond renamed the City of Key West was chosen for the Key West run. This boat had been earlier owned
by a St. Augustine resident and was used in filibustering efforts in Cuba. The Miami was launched on October 23,
1897. She held 125 passengers and had electric lights and fans throughout. In 1899 the Havana route was added
with the Cocoa and the Lincoln later renamed Martinque. In 1910 Flagler merged his boat line with Henry Plant
and created the Peninsular and Occidental Steamship Company (Flagler had been in business with Henry Plant
since 1882 with a holding company for the Plants ships, railroads, and hotels.)
Founding of the City of Miami
Miami had seen many people before Flagler from the Native people through Pedro Menendez but until the Great
Freeze of December 24 and 28, 1894 and the February 6, 1895 freeze. Miami remained a backwater. In all
probability Flagler would have stopped his building in Palm Beach but in 1894 a freeze destroyed orange
production and economically damaged the state of Florida through loss of crops and tourists. Tuttle sent word to
Flagler that Miami was untouched by the freeze. Flagler sent Ingram to check the conditions. Flagler was sent a
package from Julia Tuttle and Ingram from Miami that contained orange blossoms (or maybe lime blossoms)
untouched by the freeze. With a economic deal from Tuttle Flagler continued the railroad and the hotels to Miami.
Flagler provided streets, a municipal water works and the railroad. Tuttle provided the land. The city of Miami
was born on July 26, 1896. April 15, 1896 a railroad completed to Miami. January 16, 1897 Royal Palm 450
rooms opens in Miami. The swimming pool was 114 ft long and 50 feet wide. James McDonald creates a summer
hotel called Hotel Biscayne to serve the Florida East Coast system (December 14, 1897). In 1897 Flagler also
leased the Russell House in Key West and renamed it the Hotel Key West.
Model Land Corporation
In 1896 Flagler created the Model Land Corporation to manage his vast land holdings. In all he received several
million acres of land from railroad holdings through the 1888 to 1910 period. These included 2,050,000 acres
from the State of Florida for encouraging railroad building in Florida. James Ingraham was the land commissioner
and general agent. The company hired agents (including FEC railroad agents). This corporation was based in St.
Alice goes insane
Alice starts collecting pictures of other peoples babies. She took a party of friends on one of her husband's yachts
and after a storm came up refused to return to shore. On March 23, 1897, rambling incoherently about her
impending marriage to the Czar of Russia.
At Devil's toe the doctors came to commit her. She locked herself in her room. She tried to have a maid get a
detective to observe the proceedings but a doctor was substituted for the detective. 1895 October 24 Alice
placed in the House of Dr. Choate.In 1899, the New York Supreme Court declared her insane and incompetent.
Date uncertain - Henry has major argument with Harry. Never talks to Harry again.
Alice was released from the House of Choate after six months. Once again at Devil's Toe she was dragged of to
an asylum after having "delusions." 1897 March 23 final commitment of Ida Alice. The doctors based their case
on 3 points: 1. threats on the life of Henry Flagler. 2. She was approaching menopause. 3. She was addicted to a
Ouija board. May 24, 1900 Ida Alice moved to Pleasantville Sanitarium in Westchester County, N.Y. On
November 1, 1901 Justice Clark of the New York courts gave Dr. McDonald an increase to $25,000 per for Ida
Alice's care. She had her own private residence and other luxury.
1901 April 9 bill introduced to allow divorce on grounds of insanity in Florida. 1901 April 25 bill signed into law.
1901 August 13 divorce of Henry Flagler to Ida Alice Flagler granted in Florida with Judge Minor S. Jones ; Ex
Gov Fleming Mrs. Flagler's guardian. 1901 August 21 Henry Flagler engaged to Mary Lily Kenan (born June 14,
1867). He was 71 she was 34. 1901 August 24 married Mary Lily Kenan - the bride received 1 million,
members of family 50,000 each bride 32 years old; married by Rev. Dr. Peyton H. Hoge, party consisted of
Flagler, Attorney Mr. Ashley, Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Pick, Capt and Mrs. E. W. Lucas, Miss Hannah Bowles.
They were married at Liberty Hall the family home at Kenansville near Wilmington, North Carolina. 1901 Sept. 15
Mary Harkness Flagler born (Harry's) (Sept 15, 1901 - 1967). 1902 Whitehall was finished. It was designed by
Carrere and Hastings the same architects who created the Ponce de Leon and Alcazar Hotels it was Henry's
wedding present to Mary. 1902 Hotel Continental opens in Atlantic Beach outside of Jacksonville. It was created
as a summer hotel. March 11, 1903 Elizabeth Lamont Flagler born (Harry's). June 9, 1903 the Breakers burns
and is rebuilt. March, 1904 William Kennan becomes a director in all Flagler corporations and a vice-president.
April 19, 1905 Florida Senate passes bill repealing "Flagler" divorce law - Gov Broward made the repeal one of
the issues of his campaign. In 1908 he resigned as Vice-President of Standard Oil. He had also served as
secretary and treasurer. Elizabeth Lamont Flagler, daughter of Harry Flagler was born March 11, 1908. In 1909
Flagler opened the last of the hotels -- The Long Key Fishing Camp. It contained a 2 story lodge and a dozen
cottages. It would accommodate 100 guests. Jean Louise Flagler, daughter of Harry Flagler, was born on April
18, 1910. In 1911 Henry Flagler resigned as a Director of Standard Oil. (See Flagler takes 3rd Wife)
Called Back (Hawaiian Star, April 23, 1903)
Millionaire Henry M. Flagler's Divorced Wife Regaining Her Mental Faculities.
The New York Press says: Divorced on the plea that she was "incurably insane," Mrs. Henry M. Flagler, the
former wife of the Standard Oil multimillionaire, has lately shown great improvement in her mental state and there
are strong reasons to believe that she will recover her reason completely. She is at New Rochelle and has been
taking long drives daily, accompanied by a single attendant. Apparently she is in the best of spirits.
On August 14, 1901, Flagler divorced his wife, who had been a society leader, on grounds of insanity. Ten days
later Flagler married Miss Mary Kenan of Wilmington, Del. It is not yet known whether the first Mrs. Flagler, who
is recovering her reason, knew she has been divorced.
The situation opens embarrassing possibilities for all concerned that have not before been thought of. The first
concern is the attitude of the first Mrs. Flagler toward her former husband and toward the woman who has
become mistress of the home she once graced. Almost as interesting as this phase of the situation will be the action
of Flagler and his present wife. When Flagler married again, nearly two years ago, he was convinced the wife he
had divorced would always be a lunatic. He had tried every resource of science in the hope of restoring her to
reason, but the best physicians in the land told him there was no hope. Now comes nature unfolding another of her
mysterious moods and confounding the doctors as well as Flagler's faith in them. Mrs. Flagler is wealthy in her
own right having an income of $100,000 a year.
The Overseas Railroad
After Miami the next goal became extending the rail line to the city of Key West a town of 20,000. In 1902 the
surveys would start. At one point he would have 4,000 men working on the new extension. He would face 3
hurricanes and 128 miles of water and islands. In Florida he had already sent $30,000,000 with this section of the
railroad he would spend $20,000,000 more. In 1906 hurricane kills 130 workers. In 1906 work started on the 7
mile bridge. It would take 546 concrete piers to complete the bridge. In 1909 the second hurricane hit killing 40
workers. In 1910 the 3rd hurricane hit with one worker being killed. January 22, 1912 the first official train arrives
in Key West, Florida. Advertised time between New York and Havana was 2 nights. In 1915 the first of 3 car
carriers were completed. It was named the Henry M Flagler.
Flagler's Ocean Railroad Opens While 520 (Free) U. S. Deputies Cow 80 Striking Firemen (The Day
Book, January 23, 1912 by William Shepherd.)
Henry M. Flagler's remarkable ocean railroad line through the islands of Florida; opened on Monday with
ceremonies at Key West and shame to the taxpayers of the United States.
Not a tremendously big shame--just the ordinary shame that comes out almost every day when some big man
proves he owns more of the government than do the ordinary taxpayers.
Two months ago 80 firemen on Flagler's road struck for $3.50 a day. Flagler parleyed with them until Christmas
morning. Then he sardonically ordered all firemen discharged. The act was his "Merry Christmas."
To increase wages of those firemen would have cost Flagler $2,000 a month.
Flagler feared violence. Through Washington, where Flagler and his kind are powerful, Flagler obtained the
services of 540 deputy United States marshals. Flagler has been using these government employes, paid by
taxpayers, as if he were the general of an army and they were his soldiers. He doesn't even pay for their feed.
Flaglers line to Key West from Jacksonville is 522 miles long. He has enough marshals to guard every mile of it. It
doesn't cost him a cent.
Uncle Sam pays these marshals $2,600 a day of the taxpayers' money so that they can help Flagler save $2,000 a
Flagler has put on negro firemen, two of them taking the place of one white man. During all the celebration one
detective rides in the engine and one or more on the back of every train.
A great effort was made by Flagler and cohorts to keep the real situation secret from his guests, but before
celebration was over many of them spoke of the strike and the presence of 100 deputy marshals at Key West as
the skeleton at the feast.
Death of Henry Flagler
1913 January 15 Henry Flagler falls down stairs at Whitehall. 1913 May 20 Henry Flagler dies. Harry had been
telegraphed by Mary Lilly in New York that his father was dying. When Harry saw him it was too late and he was
heavily sedated and almost comatose. Her fear was that Harry (with Dr. Anderson's help) would attempt a
reconciliation with Henry. There was no deathbed reunion.
1913 May 23 body lies in state at Ponce de Leon before removal to Memorial Presbyterian. 1916. Later the
bodies of Mary Harkness Flagler, Jennie Louise and her baby were buried with Henry Flagler in a alcove attached
to the church.
William Kenan became the family trustee of the Flagler estate and the leader of the Flagler empire. Flagler's death
had left Mary Lily as one of the richest women in the world.
Oct, 1913 Number 2 man James R. Parrott dies.
Mrs. Flagler's Life Long Vain Quest for Happiness (Richmond Times Dispatch, August 26, 1917)
How a Poor but Pretty Southern Girl Lost Love, but Won Power and Millions, and Then Won Love at Last Too
"Poor Lilly! 'Poor girl!'"
that is the way those who knew her in youth are speaking of Multimillionaires Mrs. Flagler, who died worth
between seventy and eighty million dollars, but nearly bankrupt in happiness.
Down in the North Carolina woods, where she was born, where she grew into pretty girlhood and a womanhood
that was opulent in charm, they remember that it was Mary Lilly Kenan's creed that every one is entitled to
"I am not sure that the world owes us a living. We may have to work hard for that," she said, "but surely we will
find happiness if we seek it." So the North Carolina girl set out in her search for happiness.
She nearly found it at Monticello. Up among the tall evergreen trees that looked upon the honeymoon of Thomas
Jefferson, when he brought his bride behind him on a horse to their log cabin home, and where he played a fiddle
for his entertainment, Lilly Kenan, of Kenansville, nearly found that the possession of which she believed is the
inalienable human right.
A friend invited her to visit her at Charlottesville, Va. "Come during Commencement week of the University of
Virginia." the friend bade her. "There will be dances and all sorts of delightful times. The students are charming
chaps from all over the South."
Miss Kenan, whose friends dropped her first name and called her Lilly, accepted the invitation. She sate demurely
in the chapel listening to the baccalaureate sermon. She strolled about the grounds and explored the white marble
buildings, atop the hill of the most picturesque university in American. Romance seemed to brood among the
treetops. It was reflected in the faces of the fine, stalwart youths who came in and out at the great doors, and who
looked with open but respectful admiration into the glowing face of the girl from North Carolina.
But particularly did it shine for her from the face of Robert W. Bingham. The handsome youth with the face that
reflected keen intelligence and high character, was one of the class that was graduated that year.
"He's from Louisville, Ky. Of a very fine family," whispered her friend, as the young man stepped upon the
platform to deliver his oration. It was as cleverly crude as most efforts of the kind, but to Lilly Kenan it was an
inspired effort, and the youth who made it was headed straight for the Presidency of the United States, to her mind.
She was one of the first to congratulate him. That a pretty girl should so highly rate his effort added much joy to the
elation of the day for him. He met her again at the ball that evening. She was very pretty in her white gown, far the
prettiest girl there, he was sure. Each day during the week they met.
After each went home there were some letters. Then the difficulties that are of the mountain height and weight to
youth presented themselves to the young people.
Her dreamed of, believed-in, ardently expected happiness was not for her at this time.
Nevertheless, she still believed in her creed. It was waiting for her farther on the road of life, she was confident,
that elusive thing the existence of which many doubted---happiness.
She was grazing thirty, and North Carolinians about Kenansville mourned that "Lilly Kenan was going to be an old
maid. Such a fine, likely girl, too!" when again happiness beckoned her.
It came in a manner most unexpected and dazzling. Henry Flagler, the uncrowned king of Florida, met and
admired her. To meet Lilly Kenan was to admire her. All North Carolina conceded that and none disputed. Henry
Flagler was instantly impressed by her beauty, her amiability, her good-natured laughter at and with life. To wed
her became his most absorbing wish. But the shadow!
Mr. Flagler was married. His wife was insane. But of such a condition in matters of matrimony many States take
no account. The man whose wife is a lunatic is unfortunate but the fact of her insanity does not free him from his
obligation to her, the obligation he assumed when he vowed to "love, honor and cherish" till death should them part.
So again happiness that had beckoned her receded. Mr. Flagler's devotion was apparent to all. But the woman
who was the second Mrs. Flagler, whose clouded intellect dwelt amid phantasms at Central Valley, N. Y., would
live for an indefinite time. Her crumbling mind had no correspondence in her body. Dr. Carlos MacDonald, her
physician, always gave excellent reports of her physical health. And the North Carolinians who had viewed her
with pride began to look a bit askance at Lilly Kenan. to have won the admiration of a man who cannot marry you
is a distinct misfortune. Miss Kenan noticed a difference in the degree of cordiality of the acquaintance of a life
A few friends were staunch. One of them became Mrs. Pembroke Jones, of New York. But the woman who
wanted happiness saw it receding from her. Under the shadow of disapproval she was distinctly unhappy.
Henry Flagler saw this. That his admiration should cause the object of it unhappiness brings discomfort of the
acutest sort to the mind of a manly man.
Henry Flagler was called the "King of Florida." the state owed much to the man who had poured many millions
into it. The Standard Oil won millions, built hotels and an overseas railroad. They endowed churches and hospitals,
and colleges. "Without Henry Flagler, Florida would feel that she had lost her spine,:" said an orator of the Florida
Mr. Flagler heard of the speech. Hearing, he meditated. If Florida felt indebted to him, Florida, then, would do
something for him. He summoned some of the State Salons.
"Your divorce laws do not take cognizance of insanity," he said.
"No, Mr. Flagler." The legislators stood hat in hand.
"Would it not be well to make insanity covering a long period a cause for divorce?" he inquired.
"Perhaps it would." "We hadn't thought of it." "We will consider the matter, Mr. Flagler." "Thank you for the
suggestion. The legislators backed out.
Shortly it became a law that any Floridan whose wife had been continuously insane for four or more years might
Of this law the King of Florida availed himself. Shortly after its passage Lilly Kenan's belief that everyone would
find happiness was vindicated, but only for a brief time.
The wedding occurred at the old home of the Kenans in the North Carolina woods. Mr. and Mrs. Flagler left on
their honeymoon in a special train. They went to Larchmont to a palace-like home. The bride received from the
bridegroom a wedding gift of $4,000,000.
It was like Cinderella's dream. Only this Prince was no youth. He was seventy. Lilly Kenan had loved children.
She had hoped to be the mother of six at least. But amidst the glittering opulence of her life that gift was denied
her. And again the fullest happiness refused to linger with the woman who claimed it.
Thirteen years Lily Kenan Flagler spent at the side of her aging spouse. When stricken, he knew the end of his life
was near, he asked to be taken from the great house to one of the small villas near it. "I want to die there, Lily,
because it was there we spent our honeymoon." The wish of the monarch of the Peninsular State was fulfilled. He
died grasping her hand and assuring her that she had given him great happiness. Which is much but not all. (See
mysterious death of Henry Flagler)
Two years after her husband's death Mrs. Flagler was paying a visit to friends in the South. At the same time the
University of Virginia student become Judge Robert Bingham, the Mayor of "his home town," was a guest. With
him was his son Robert. "He looks just as his father did at his age," said Mrs. Flagler. Whereat both the
multi-millionaires and the Mayor of Louisville, to their own surprise, looked and felt self-conscious. That house
party at Asheville, N. C., was the beginning of what the former Lily Kenan felt assured was happiness.
A secret engagement took place. The wedding occurred a year later. In preparation for it Mrs. Flagler bought a
site on upper Fifth avenue, at Ninety-six street, on which she purposed to build an American palace. She was
destined never to live in that home.
To her one day, arranging her plans for the wedding and glancing into the mirror at the face of a mature woman,
came the half-formed thought: "I wonder whether Robert---one is less romantic as one grows older," and she
That great wealth? Could it be any---she was no longer the young girl that he remembered. It was hard to put his
misgivings into words. Life and years humble us. And they render us timid.
It is said that Judge Bingham himself suggested that the bulk of her great wealth, its burdens and obligations, should
be bequeathed to her much beloved niece, Louise Wise. Which was done within a month of the aunt's nuptials.
They were wedded simply at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Pembroke Jones. Miss wise, by no means eager for the
wealth awaiting her, and saying, "I hope I won't get it for many years, if ever," was at her aunt's second wedding.
Judge and Mrs. Bingham went to their home at Louisville. They established themselves in his old home. His bride
was delighted to regard his three children as her own. At last it seemed that Lilly Kenan's faith in what life held for
her was justified. She had wedded the sweetheart of her youth. He had wedded her as she had him, for love. At
least a score of years stretched before them. They would travel the long path hand in hand in the sunset glow.
But almost immediately after her marriage a fatal malady attacked her. But half a year of her new life had passed
before she died.
Her lifelong pursuit of happiness had been vain.
November 16, 1916 Mary Lily married Robert Worth Bingham. 1917
June 27, 1917 Mary Lily dies with questions arising about cause of death.
Mrs. Bingham Died Friday (Hopkinsville Kentuckian, July 31, 1917)
Richest Woman in Kentucky Victim of Heart Disease---Bride of Eight Months.
Mrs. Robert Worth Bingham died at 3:10 p.m. Friday at her home near Louisville.
A heart attack Thursday night, the third during an illness of three weeks, was the immediate cause of death of one
of America's wealthiest women, who, before her marriage November 15 of last year to Judge Bingham, prominent
attorney and one time Mayor of Louisville, was the widow of the late Henry M. Flagler, multi-millionaire railroad
and oil magnate, whose railroad construction actives in the State of Florida since the days of the Civil War
established that section of the country in the world of business.
Mrs. Bingham was unconscious from the time the last attack Thursday night until death came yesterday afternoon.
Wehn the end came Judge Bingham and Mrs. Bessie Wise, of Wilmington, N. C., sister of Mrs. bingham, were at
the bedside. Other survivors of Mrs. Bingham besides her husband and Mrs. Wise are William Kenan, of
Lockport, N. Y., a borther, and Mrs. Graham Kenan of Wilmington, N. c. another sister.
Mr. and Mrs. Bingham took up their permanent residence in Louisville a short time after they were married. They
acquired the magnificent home of the late Wm. B. Belknap, which is known as "Lincliffe," and here many charming
social affairs were held last winter.
Soon after her marriage to Judge Bingham, Mrs. Bingham gave the sum of $125,000 to the Flagler Memorial
Chapel in St. Augustine, Fla., and in the recent Red Cross campaign, her name was enrolled as a subscriber to the
extent of $45,000.
Mrs. Bingham was the third wife of the late Henry M. Flagler, and Judge Bingham was her second husband. She
made the acquaintance of Mr. Flagler in Wilmington, N. C., in 1890 and became his wife in St. Augustine in 1894.
(Editor: you can see why you cannot trust newspaper accounts --- wrong year, wrong place.) Mr. Flagler was 73
years old that year.
The bulk of the Flagler estate, estimated at more than $50,000,000, went to her at the death of Mr. Flagler some
years ago. Under the terms of the will, however, the fortune was under his control only during the period of her
life, and most of it, as the will specifies, now reverts to Mrs. Louise Wise Lewis, wife of J. Laurence Lewis, of
Cincinnati, and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W#ise, of Wilmington N. C. Mrs. Louis Wise Lewis was Mrs.
Bingham's niece and her only attendant at her marriage to Judge Bingham.
Mrs. Bingham was born in Kenansville, N. C., June 14, 1867, and had just passed her fiftieth natal anniversary.
Her father was Capt. Wm. R. Kenan, who served in the Civil War in the Confederate army and who was a
member of an old Southern family. Her mother was a Miss Mary Hargrave, who was highly connected as a
member of a distinguished family in North Carolina.
Body of Woman May be Exhumed (The Ogden Standard, September 21, 1917)
Rumors of Plan to Disinter the Former Mrs. Henry M. Flagler Continue.
Marked interest continued her (Wilmington, N.C.) today in reports of a plan to disinter the body of Mrs. Robert
W. Bingham, formerly Mrs. Henry M. Flagler who was buried in Oakdale cemetery here on July 31, after her
death in Louisville, Ky. Health authorities persisted in their refusal to confirm or deny rumors that a permit to
exhume the body had been obtained by the family so that an autopsy might be performed to determine definitely
the cause of death.
The grave is guarded by the superintendent of the cemetery and his force during the day and at night by constables
so there is no likelihood of it being disturbed without due authority. It is said the family intends to have an autopay
performed to set at rest rumors which have been in circulation as to the cause of her death. Although Mrs.
Bingham's relatives proposed to contest the codicil to the will in which she left $5,000,000 to her second husband,
friends of the family here say the proposed action is not prompted by any desire to obtain a larger portion of the
Nothing Given Out Regarding Bingham Case (The Bismarck Tribune, September 25, 1917)
Secrecy Surrounds Analysis of Vital Organs of Widow of Late Henry Flagler
Secrecy was maintained today regarding the chemical analysis in progress here of the vital organs from the body of
Mrs. Robert Worth Bingham, privately exhumed at Wilmington, N. C., last week, by direction of members of her
family, as the result of rumors regarding her death.
The examination, it is said, will take several days, and it is being done for the Kennan family of Wilmington,
relatives of Mrs. Bingham, formerly Mrs. Henry M. Flagler, widow of the Standard Oil financier, who left her an
estate that has been valued at $70,000,000.
Niece Must Share Bingham Wealth (The Sun, October 25, 1917)
Flagler Widow's Brother and Two sisters Get Millions by will.
$5,000,000 to Husband
Public Institutions and Old Servants Are Remembered by Bequests.
An examination yesterday of the will of the late Mrs. Mary Lily Bingham, which is on file in the Surrogate's office in
New York, disclosed that instead of the estate of from $50,000,000 to $80,000,000 which she inherited from her
first husband, Henry M. Flagler, going to her niece, Mrs. Louise Clisby Wise Lewis, the bulk of the millions will be
divided between a brother, two sisters and the niece. The estate, it was shown yesterday, includes Standard Oil
stock valued at $15,992,350.
Under a codicil to the will of Mrs. Bingham, executed shortly after her marriage to Judge Robert Worth Bingham
in Louisville, Ky,., Judge Bingham will receive $5,000,000 of her estate. All the papers relating to the Bingham
estate have been filed here, after a complicated legal procedure in which the will was probated in Florida, where
the late Mr. Flagler amassed the greater part of his wealth, and the codicil was probated in Kentucky.
Application Made Here.
The Louisville Trust Company as executor has applied to the Surrogate here for ancillary letters of administration
for the personal property in New York, which is estimated at $1,500,000.
The will of Mrs. Bingham as examined yesterday leaves all of her real estate to Mrs. Lewis except that placed in
trust by her first husband, an annuity of $200,000 until Mrs. Lewis is 40 years old, at which time she will receive
$5,000,000 and Mrs. Bingham's collection of pearls, which are said to be worth $1,000,000. Under certain
provisions of the will by which Mrs. Bingham left considerable property to Mrs. Lewis's mother, Mrs. Jessie
Kenan Wise, Mrs. Lewis will inherit a further share of the estate upon the death of Mrs. Wise.
Requests to Brother.
To her brother, William R. Kenan, and her sisters, Mrs. Jessie Kenan Wise and Miss Sarah Graham Kenan, Mrs.
Bingham left all her holdings in Standard Oil Companies. She also placed her interests in the Florida East Coast
Railway, said to be valued at about $32,000,000 and her interests in the Florida hotels operated by her first
husband, in trust for twenty-one years, for the benefit of her brother and sisters. They are also to receive
Other bequests made by Mrs. Bingham include $75,000 to the University of North Carolina for the establishment
of Kenan professorships in memory of her father. The managers of the various Flagler hotels in Florida receive
$10,000 each, and the Rev. George Morgan Ward, who officiated at Mrs. Bingham's marriage to Judge Bingham,
receives $25,000. Owen Kenan, a cousin, will receive $300,000.
1919 D. W. Griffiths buys Satanstoe and builds movie studio. It proves his undoing. Satanstoe will later burn to
September 20, 1919 Continental Hotel burns
1922 Colonial burns. Property sold to British government.
1925 March 18 Breakers Hotel burns for the 2nd time rebuilt by Kenans management (currently still in operation)
(also Hotel Palm Beach caught fire from the Breakers). Whitehall sold, becomes a hotel.
1925 Hotel Victoria sold.
1927 After the death of Joseph Greaves, the Royal Palm does not reopen
1928 March 30 Harry Harkness Flagler becomes Chairperson of the The Philharmonic-Symphony Society of
New York, Inc.,
1928 Royal Poinciana condemned.
1930 July 10 Ida Alice dies. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 82.
1932 Alcazar Hotel Closes/Cordova closes.
1935 Royal Poinciana tore down.
1937 last piece of the Royal Palm destroyed.
September 1, 1935 huge hurricane washes away large parts of the Overseas railroad. FEC chooses not to rebuild.
Today significant portions of U.S. 1 contain the old cement trestles of the Overseas Railroad.
1950s Ormond Hotel sold to Robert Woodward.
1952 Death of Harry Flagler.
1957 Hotel Key West by then known as the Tropical Hotel burned.
1959 - Whitehall Hotel went out of business. Purchased by Mrs. Flagler Matthews.
1960 - February Henry Morrison Flagler Museum opened at Whitehall.
1961 - Edward Ball, trustee for the Alfred DuPont estate gains control of Florida East Coast Railway.
July 28, 1965 William Kenan dies.
1967 March Hotel Ponce de Leon closed. Flagler College is opened using Ponce de Leon Hotel and Markland.
July, 1992 Ormond razed.
1999 December 10 Casa Monica reopens.
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