Thursday, October 28, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - The Duchess's Chest

I just love this story that I came across about my husband's great-great-great grandmother, Margaret Ann (Unknown) Hildinger (1795-1880).  She was married to John Hildinger (1794-1848) and they both came to the United States from W├╝rttemberg, Germany in 1833 and settled in Armstrong County, PA.  They were the parents of John A. Hildinger (1831-1887) whose youngest son Charles Clark Hildinger (1876-1931) was to found the very successful Hildinger Amusement business in Trenton and feature some of the first moving pictures in Trenton, NJ.  According to her great-grandson, Charles Sweet, in a story in the Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser in which he was talking about the Hildinger movie enterprise, Margaret Ann was a German duchess.  Here is the excerpt:


Charles Hildinger was a character and so was their mutual great-grandmother according to Charles Sweet.  According to family legend the great-grandmother, a duchess in W├╝rttemberg, ran away with the court tailor, a Hildinger.  They came from Germany on a sailing ship before 1830.  The ship had extra long paddles to fend off man-eating sharks during the voyage.  The couple bought a large farm in Armstrong County, Pa. and the ex-duchess took over its supervision.

A strong-willed woman, she had a custom with which she allowed nothing to interfere.  She would return from the fields shortly before 4 in the afternoon, dress in the finery from the trunks she had brought from Europe and have tea served to her in the court tradition.  The trunks and the clothes remained in the family for years.
If the story is true (which I really have my doubts), wouldn't I love to get my hands on that treasure chest!

Source:  Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser 22 Aug 1954

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