Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Notable Women Ancestors: Connecting to the South


My New England ancestors haven't afforded me the opportunity to explore the lives of individuals from too many other states. I was excited to take that journey on the trail of my nephews' fore bearers. Meet Cuthbert Dufour!

When William Frederick Lamb married in 1926, he was 42 and established as a New York City architect. He grew up in an upper class family in Brooklyn, likely pampered by five older sisters. He was a graduate of Williams College and had also studied at Columbia and Beaux Arts in Paris. His bride had also seen some of the world by the time they married when she was about 33. She possessed a pedigree reaching to colonial South Carolina and Louisiana.

Cuthbert Dufour was born March 2, 1896 reportedly in Norfolk VA, although the Virginia Health Dept. provided no such record. Cuthbert is more typically a boy's name and there is likely a family connection to the name, yet undiscovered. She was the fourth of six children of Albert J. Dufour and Elise Roman, both of whom were born and raised in New Orleans. She came into a family with 9 and 10 year-old sisters and a four year-old brother, Rhett.

In 1900 the family was living in New Orleans, where they had a large extended family. The family had a French nurse, as well as an elderly black nurse and another white servant. When she was six, her younger sister Adele was born. In that summer of 1902 she vacationed with her grandmother in Sullivan's Island, SC. Another newspaper item notes that they went inland in 1903 to Blowing Rock, NC.

There had been another son, Horace, who died before Cuthbert was born, at only four months of age in Norfolk in 1894. The family lost their oldest child in 1903 when Maude died in New Orleans at 17.

Early in the 1900s her parents divorced. Elise recorded the sale of land in New Orleans as a divorced woman in 1906. By 1910 they were living in Asheville, NC in a rented house near Hillside Academy. Elise had no occupation. Her mother, Sallie Roman was also living in Asheville with her unmarried children, including Rhett Roman. Rhett Dufour was 15 and working as a railroad laborer. They had a boarder, Stanley Cunningham, who was a railroad clerk. A black cook lived in. It appears that her father was in New York.

Sister Frances Elise Dufour married in 1911 in Asheville. She and her husband James Hobart Allport had four daughters by 1920.

Cuthbert and her family moved to Staten Island, NY in 1914. This was her fourth state of residence, and would have been a big move away from the extended family in the south. In 1919 she applied for a passport and traveled to France with the Red Cross. She returned to France in 1920 and spent February to September there. Her occupation in the 1920 census was private secretary. Under the auspices of the American Committee for Devastated France she again crossed the Atlantic in 1921 and returned on the Cherbourg in March of 1922. She was an activist at an early age.

Cuthbert's father had died by the time her sister Adele married Howell Sawyer in New York in 1927. She died at 32 in 1934 without children.

Cuthbert's only child was born February 17, 1930 in New York: William Rhett Lamb. That is a time that her husband, William Frederick Lamb, was very busy with the construction of the Empire State Building, for which he was principal architect. They resided at 55 East 72nd Street in Manhattan. She lived more than 30 years longer than her husband, who died in 1952. She died in 1985 in New York.

Note: The details found in public records do not likely do justice to the life of this interesting woman, nor does the passport photo above.

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