Baroness of Hobcaw
The Life of Belle W. Baruch
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of South Carolina Press
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List of Illustrations
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No biography is written without a great deal of help and cooperation, and Iowe a great debt to many people who shared their memories of Belle Baruch.Without Ella Severin, resident trustee and director of long-range planningfor the Belle W. Baruch Foundation, this book could not have been written.Miss Severin shared her memories, letters, and memorabilia of her fifteen years...
1 Paternal Pride and Future Hope
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Belle Baruch could outride, outshoot, outhunt, and outsail most of theyoung men of her acquaintance—not the most desirable attributes fora young lady in the polite society of 1918. For most of her growing years, Bellehad been admonished to “act like a lady” and reminded that men did not liketo be bested in competition by women. Belle, on the other hand, liked to winEnergetic and restless, she craved adventure and excitement. Not for Belle a...
2 The Only Real Place on Earth
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Though only in his midthirties, Bernard Baruch was a multimillionairewho had always believed that a man needed periods of quiet contempla-tion. After a major endeavor, he liked to isolate himself and reflect on events todetermine what led to their success or failure. He searched for a getaway.Baruch had always maintained his southern ties, and in 1904, the year hisdaughter Renee was born, he was invited to visit Sidney and Harold Donald -...
3 Life Lessons at Hobcaw
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Belle’s relationship with the plantation blacks was ambivalent. It was in -credible to her that most of the inhabitants of the old slave villages—Friendfield, Strawberry, Alderly, and Barnyard—had never left the plantation.They were born, married, reared families, and died without ever having left theIn her youthful arrogance and lack of understanding, it did not occur to Bellethat even though slavery had been abolished, the black families of Hobcaw...
4 A Study in Determination
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A s Belle entered her teens, she had two great passions—sailing and horses.By age seventeen, she had already won over fifty sailing trophies and in1916 became the first woman to win the coveted Queen of the Bay Cup spon-sored by the Yacht Racing Association of Great South Bay, Long Island.Skippering her Bellport Bay one-design yacht, Miladi, Belle won the raceby a corrected time of twenty-two seconds. Flushed and triumphant, the young...
5 From Debutante to the World Stage
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When Belle graduated from Rayson in 1917, the United States was atwar against the kaiser, and there’s no doubt that, had she been a man,Bernard Baruch had abandoned Wall Street for a life of public ser vice.Wood row Wilson, whom Baruch admired and respected, had appointed Baruchto the Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense in 1916 inpreparation for greater responsibilities. In 1917, in order to be completely...
6 Henry Ford and Anti-Semitism
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The United States in the 1920s was introspective, isolationist, and seekingto assign blame for its own entry into World War I as well as for the con-duct of the war itself. As chairman of the powerful War Industries Board and,unquestionably, the most renowned Jew in the country, Bernard Baruch foundhimself the target of speculation and a primary victim of Henry Ford’s viciousHenry Ford Sr., the great industrialist who first developed the assembly line,...
7 Resolution and Independence
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Belle came of age in the Roaring Twenties, the Jazz Age. She was young,rich, and adventurous. The post–World War I era in America was one ofturbulent and often painful social and economic change. The war had exposedmillions of rural Americans to urban lifestyles and shifting mores. Suddenly,half the population was living in the cities. The age of the automobile hadarrived, and Belle witnessed the last of the horse-drawn trolleys in New York....
8 Lois Massey
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The one special person who shared Belle’s dreams and vision of HobcawBarony was Lois Massey, who served as social secretary to the Baruchs atHobcaw and later to Belle at Bellefield. Lois loved Hobcaw almost as much asLois’s uncle was Captain Jim Powell, and her first memory of Hobcaw wasat the age of five: “I remember riding on a horse named ‘Big Jim’ with my uncleover the woody roads and across the rice field banks where hundreds of Ne -...
9 Travels with Edith Bolling Wilson
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In the spring of 1925 Edith Bolling Wilson planned her first European tripsince the death of her husband in February 1924. Belle, along with LucyMoeling, was to be her traveling companion. They sailed for Europe on theMajestic on May 17. Mrs. Wilson sought rest, anonymity, and complete free-dom from formal receptions, press interviews, and the like. Belle, her sisterRenee, and Evangeline Johnson, who joined them in Europe for part of the...
10 An Awakening
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In late 1925 Evangeline Brewster Johnson fell in love with the brilliant con-ductor Leopold Stokowski. Nothing would do for Evangeline but for Belleto share her ecstasy and participate in the plans for the wedding. She chortledas she told Belle about her staid family’s reaction to her fiancé. When she an -nounced her plans, her brother demanded to know just who Stokowski was.When Evangeline replied that he was a conductor, her brother said loftily: “In...
11 La Belle Équitation
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In the spring of 1926 Belle went to France, where she plunged into a whirlof social engagements. She sighed with plea sure at the beauty of Paris, theParis immortalized by Hemingway and Fitzgerald, where the wide avenue of theChamps-Élysées bloomed with chestnut blossoms and brilliant flowers insteadof the tourist kiosks of today. It was not in Belle, however, to join the “lost gen-eration.” Too many things were happening in the world, and she wanted to be...
12 Success and Romance at Home and Abroad
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The year 1929 began like any other year for Belle. She celebrated the NewYear at Hobcaw with her family, then headed north to New York to seea few plays and look after her business affairs before setting sail for Europe.Unaware of the crisis looming in America, Belle reached France in the springfor the start of the riding season. She entered fewer shows that year, ridingmostly in Paris and Pau with only one trip each to Fontainebleau, Vichy, and...
13 Triumphs with Souriant and Rumors of War
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In 1932 Belle hired a Frenchman, Jean Darthez, as her head groom andtrainer, beginning a relationship that would span three decades. Thedoughty Frenchman maintained what he considered to be the neatest, cleaneststables in all of France. Belle was an exacting employer, especially where herhorses were concerned, and in Darthez she found someone who met her expec-tations. The primary responsibility for the care and training of her stables was...
14 European Friends and a Fleeting Betrothal
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Belle had developed an international coterie of close friends, some Europe -ans and other Americans who, like Belle, lived in Europe several monthsThere was petite, blonde Eleanor McCarthy, born of American parents,reared in France. Eleanor and her family lived at the Ritz where Belle frequentlystayed. Eleanor rode like a small whirlwind, whether in pursuit of a fox or overthe high jumps. She was an excellent pilot, high-spirited, and great fun. She had...
15 Bargaining for Bellefield
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In January 1935 Belle went to New York with thoughts of Hobcaw on hermind. Planning to return to Europe immediately, she took a short lease ata residential hotel, The Surrey, on East Seventy-sixth Street. She had confidedto Lois Massey her wish to buy a piece of Hobcaw Barony and had asked herfor support and assistance. Lois, dismayed by the possible breakup of the prop-erty, promised her help and gathered information and statistics concerning...
16 Lois Massey and Prewar Europe
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In May 1936 the Italian army took control of Addis Ababa, the capitol ofEthiopia, making it a part of Italian East Africa. To Belle’s disgust, theLeague of Nations decided to accept Italian rule for Ethiopia. Noting the dither-ing by the league, Hitler repudiated the articles of the Versailles Treaty thatdeclared the Rhineland to be a demilitarized zone. There were talks and protestsbut no decisive action by the league. To calm the fears of neighboring European...
17 Varvara Hasselbalch’s American Sojourn
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During that final summer of competition in 1937, Belle noted with con-cern the growing disharmony between her friend Louise Hasselbalchand her teenaged daughter, Varvara. Varvara was increasingly rebellious againstLouise’s almost tyrannical insistence that Varvara pursue a professional ridingIt seemed to Belle that Louise, widowed at an early age, often seemed puz-zled as to just what she should do with the child. For the first few years after...
18 Life Stateside and War Abroad
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A fter seeing Varvara off to Europe on the Queen Mary, Belle, Lois Massey,and Barbara Donohoe stayed in New York for a month. Belle wantedto buy a small apartment in New York since, in the future, she would be livingprimarily in the United States. In the meantime, she leased a house in Bedford,New York, just outside the city, and brought two of her favorite horses fromHer sister, Renee Samstag, had a house at Pound Ridge, and the two sisters...
19 Personal and National Turmoil in 1941
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Belle and Barbara Donohoe worked tirelessly to complete the grounds atBellefield Plantation. Landscape architects Umberto Innocenti and Rich -ard E. Webel of Long Island’s Studio Roblyn designed the entrances to the sta-bles, the house, the forecourt, gates, and terraces of Bellefield. All bricks in thecourtyards and exterior walls were ballast bricks from the old Charleston Con -servatory of Music. The gates were cypress with handwrought iron fixtures and...
20 U-Boats and Spies along the Carolina Coast
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World War II wrought changes throughout the United States, but thecoastal areas, in particular, were affected. Even before the war began,volunteer plane watchers manned lookout towers in Georgetown and Horrycounties. Detailed instructions were given to coastal inhabitants as to whatBlackouts were instituted in January 1942, and Belle made certain that noviolations took place on Hobcaw Barony. Automobiles must travel at night...
21 Dickie Leyland at Hobcaw Barony
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The advent of Dickie Leyland at Hobcaw Barony signaled an era of dis-cord. With a single exception, no one speaks kindly of Dickie. She wasconsidered rude and overbearing, spiteful, jealous, and deceitful. Dickie hadtwo faces, one individual noted, one for Belle and one for everyone else. Therelationship was, and remains, a mystery in the minds of everyone who knewBelle. “Dickie,” noted Robert Darthez, “was not a good influence on Miss...
22 FDR’s Visit to South Carolina
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Spring had always been Belle’s favorite season at Hobcaw. As Easter ap -proached in 1944, the woods of the barony were at their loveliest, withpurple wisteria cascading from the trees and fragile dogwoods swaying in thesoft breeze. Brilliant azaleas were in bud, and crocus and jonquils bloomed inglowing color. Flowing yellow jessamine gleamed amid the newly green trees.That year alien sights and sounds rang throughout the peaceful acres as the...
23 War’s End and the End of an Era
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The Allied armies continued their thrust in both theaters of war. Theworld knew the end was coming when Benito Mussolini was shot onApril 28, 1945, and Adolph Hitler committed suicide just two days later. ByOn August 6, Paul W. Tibbets Jr., flew the Enola Gay, the plane that droppedthe first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, stunning the world. Still Japan did notbow to Allied might. Three days later, on August 9, 1945, a second atomic...
24 Winds of Change in Postwar America
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In 1946 Belle made her first trip to Europe since the end of the war. Sheheld a tempestuous reunion in London with Varvara Hasselbalch, then mar-ried to Guy Ingram. For some reason, Belle was spoiling for an argument,probably resentment at Varvara’s last-minute refusal to leave Paris during theGerman occupation. It had also been one of the rare times that she had askedher father for a favor. Her feelings toward Varvara those first few minutes were...
25 Philanthropy and Ecology
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A s the years passed and development increased in Horry and Georgetowncounties, Belle was alarmed by the destruction of natural habitat andthe diminishing wildlife. The wild turkeys were seldom seen anymore and thenumber of ducks dwindled each year. Awareness grew within her that the landand creatures she had taken for granted since childhood would not necessarilyUntil she became active in the management of the property, it had not...
26 From Constable to Baroness
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Belle and Ella were to share many happy years at Hobcaw. They did notalways agree but deferred to each other. Ella, for instance, was an animal-rights activist and deplored hunting in any form. Belle, of course, was an avidhunter, though she never shot deer or turkey once she took over the plantationand rarely shot ducks in order to protect their diminishing numbers.Ella did not enjoy riding but for Belle’s sake made an attempt. It caused her...
27 Paul Dollfus and Frances Milam
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Next to Hobcaw and her beloved horses, Belle’s greatest plea sure wasdoing for others, giving not only money but her time and attention.Her philanthropies were extensive and included organized charities such asthe Seeing Eye of Morristown, New Jersey; the Eye Bank for Sight Restora -tion of New York; the Visiting Nurse program of New York; and the CatholicGuild for the Blind of Newton, Massachusetts. All but one were legatees in...
28 The Passing of Jean Darthez and Souriant III
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In 1956 Belle’s friends joined her in mourning the death of her beloved Toto,Souriant III. Toto had passed thirty years of his life with Belle and JeanDarthez, loved and pampered, but all the affection they lavished on him couldnot stave off the ravages of age. Toto had reached the point where he couldhardly stand, and on a few occasions, Jean had rigged a harness to lift the greatjumper to an upright position to prevent pneumonia. Finally, a heartbroken...
29 Into the Twilight
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Bernard Baruch ushered in the new decade with the publication of vol-ume 2 of his autobiography, Baruch: The Public Years, creating quite a stiramong his political contemporaries. He still had enough clout that the youngSenator John F. Kennedy from Massachusetts came to pay his respects as heFriends and family celebrated his ninetieth birthday in August with an enor-mous tiered birthday cake. At Christmas he sent photographs of himself swim-...
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A s often happens when someone of great wealth dies, there was dissen-sion and controversy following Belle Baruch’s death. Belle had oftenexpressed the wish to be buried at her beloved Hobcaw Barony but had not sodesignated in her will. Bernard Baruch insisted that she be interred in the fam-ily burial plot at Flushing Cemetery in Queens. Disregarding her Catholic bap-tism, Baruch held the funeral ser vices at the Chapel of the Beloved Disciple,...
Appendix: Hobcaw Barony Today
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Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2012