Scholar of the Strange and Mysterious
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Professor Hex
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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

A FALLEN STAR - A Once Famous London Actress Picking Coal in Kansas City (1873) 
The Kansas City Times says: The recent arrest of a number of poor coal pickers in West Kansas City, resulted in the discovery of the identity and the present home of a once very popular actress, who made her debut in, and for a season drove the play going public of London, wild over her beauty and power of delineation. Mrs. Caroline Whittlesey, or, as she was better known, the "Brighton Pearl" appeared on the stage in Drury Line about twenty years ago, and after a brilliant season of favor and popularity suddenly – faded from the London stage, and for several years was lost to the public eye. When next she appeared before the footlights, it was as Mrs. Whittlesey in the Theatre Royal, Hull, Yorkshire.

These brief outlines of this woman's remarkable history were given by herself to a neighbor, who has by kindness and attention to the child of this gifted and eccentric woman – a little girl of thirteen years, who was caught by a railroad watchman a few days ago, in the act of filling her little basket with coal from the cars of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Mrs. Whittlesey appeared in behalf of her child, and her calm lady-like manner, and pale, careworn face, was all the eloquence required to release the little girl from the watchman's grasp. This man, to test the woman's word as to her poverty and destitution, visited her shanty, a rude, unplastered hovel in the bottoms near the rail road track. The contents of the home of this once brilliant woman is a vivid contrast to her fine palatial residence, furnished her while the mistress of the late Lord Denbigh. A clean but humble bed, a few chairs, a table, a number of relics of the stage, such as play bills, portraits, etc, and a sewing machine, comprise all her earthly possessions. Although poor and pinched by poverty this woman preserves all the dignity of a queen Elizabeth, a character she has no doubt filled to perfection some day, long, long ago. She came to Kansas City about five years ago and has lived here since the death of her husband in 1870, by her own exertions as a seamstress. She wears upon her finger a handsome ring with the Denbigh coat of arms engraved thereon. She says, when she left the stage in 1853 she did so to become the wife of Lord Denbigh, with whom she went as his wife, to Geneva and thence to Florence, where they lived in retirement several mouths. On his death her claims as his wife were set aside, and having neither money nor friends she abandoned her claims and again returned to the stage, and for several years was a popular provincial favorite in England, Australia and Canada. While in England in 1860 she married a young Englishman named Whittlesey, with whom she lived many happy years in domestic quiet. She says she has been compelled to send her child to gather coal, to assist in ekeing out the scanty support won by her needle.

Among the curious mementoes of her early life Mrs. Whittlesey preserves nothing with such jealous care as a folio of play bills giving her "cast" in plays for several years in England, Australia and Canada. This lady still retains some trace of that remarkable dash and beauty which made her the favorite star of the London stage twenty years ago.

-The Leavenworth Weekly Times, November 6, 1873.

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