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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 564


Someone in this semicircle of nearly illegible graves is that of Alice Roosevelt.

Alice Hathaway Lee was born Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts in 1861. Her father a big time Boston banker and she grew up in the heart of the Boston Brahmins. Her family’s neighbors were part of the Saltonstall clan. In 1878, she met a young man named Theodore Roosevelt when he was in Boston visiting them. He fell in love with her immediately. She seems to have taken more time. He proposed to her in 1879, but she waited nine months before accepting him. They were married in 1880. Being rich people, they were all in the Gilded Age social elite world, going to fancy New York parties and then taking a long trip to Europe. He was elected to the New York statehouse in 1882 and she joined him in Albany.

Roosevelt got pregnant in 1883. They bought a big piece of land to buy a typical oversized Gilded Age mansion. Alice went down to New York to have the birth with her mother-in-law in assistance. On February 12, 1884, she gave birth to a daughter, also named Alice. Theodore was in Albany, as the Assembly was in session. But her childbirth went poorly and he was wired to get down to New York as soon as possible. By the time he got there, she was barely conscious. She died on February 14. Moreover, his mother died the same day. Actually, she and Theodore’s father are buried here too, but I decided to just tell this story from the perspective of Alice. When she died, Roosevelt was devastated. He put Alice in the care of his sister, who was unmarried. He never spoke of Alice ever again. He burned the pages of his diary concerning her. He would not tell his daughter about her. It was her aunt that was her lifeline to her mother. Theodore remarried pretty soon after–upon his return from his North Dakota adventure he used to get over his grief–and they took baby Alice in when she was 3.

Alice Roosevelt is buried in Green Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York. Someone with the tools to really read these graves can identify precisely which one she is, but it doesn’t really mater all that much.

If you would like this series to visit other people associated with Theodore Roosevelt, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Their daughter Alice Roosevelt Longworth, a character in her own right, is in Washington, D.C., while TR’s son from his second wife Kermit is in Anchorage, Alaska. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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