Cornelia <I>Rutjes</I> Churchill


Cornelia Rutjes Churchill

Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, USA
Death 23 Dec 1921 (aged 70)
Bronx, Bronx County, New York, USA
Burial Woodside, Queens County, New York, USA
Memorial ID 102919140 View Source
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Cornelia Rutjes Churchill (or Churchell) was the only child of Adolph John Rutjes (b. ca. 1825) and his first wife Théonie Marie Louise Alexandrine de la Rivière Mignot Rutjes (1819-1875). Her father's family were Dutch from Appeldorn in present-day western Germany. Her mother was from an aristocratic French family resettled in Charleston following the successful slave revolt on the French colony of Saint-Domingue (Haiti). Her mother's first husband was Rémy Mignot (1801-1848), a French immigrant and confectioner by whom she had four children. Soon after Rémy's premature death, Théonie married Rutjes, a close friend of the family. Rutjes and Théonie took over the Mignot business and grew it into a successful catering establishment patronized by the Low Country elite.

As war threatened, Rutjes and his wife sent the four Mignot children to live with his relatives in Eindhoven, Netherlands. Théonie remained behind, apparently with Cornelia. The family was burned out of their house by the Great Fire of 1861 and removed to the relative safety of Columbia, SC, where Théonie opened a boarding house. By 1870, reunited with Rutjes (whose whereabouts during the war is unknown), Théonie and Cornelia were living in Raleigh, NC where A.J. Rutjes was now proprietor of the National Hotel.

In Raleigh Cornelia met a young bookkeeper Mortimer Churchill (1843-1873) from Upstate New York. They were married on May 5, 1870. Sadly, Mortimer died three years later of consumption. The couple had no children. The widowed Cornelia never remarried but instead lived with her parents who moved north to manage hotels first in New York City, then in Greenwich, CT. After Théonie's death in Connecticut in 1876, Cornelia lived with relatives in New York, then Boston. Around 1906 she returned to New York and took a room in a women's boarding house in Manhattan, until she fell ill with cancer and died at the House of Calvary, a Catholic hospital for destitute women with terminal illness. She was buried on December 26, 1921. She was 70 years old at death.

A Historical Gown
A modiste in Fourteenth street, New York, has on exhibition an elaborate satin gown, whose history can be traced without a break, it is claimed, to its original owner and wearer, Queen Marie Antoinette....Its asserted genuineness is thus made out: During the spring following the execution of Louis XVI, January 21, 1793, the revolutionary tribunal decreed that the furniture and entire contents of the Tuileries should be disposed of. The sale continued six months, and would have continued much longer had it not been legally stopped. Pierre de la Riviere, minister of foreign affairs, then bought three gowns belonging to Marie Antoinette, which passed to his son, who went to San Domingo, and fled, during the last insurrection on the island to Philadelphia. The gowns descended to his daughter, Mme. Remi Mignot, of Charleston, S.C., (granddaughter of Pierre de la Riviere), who was afterward married to M. Rutjes, of that city. Through her the pale yellow satin came into possession of her eldest daughter, now Mrs. Churchill, and from her the modiste purchased it some months ago....One of the two gowns, a blue one, was given to another daughter of Mme. Mignot, who, after marriage, removed to Holland, and it was used as covering for some handsome pieces of furniture now in possession of her husband, living at the little town of Einhoven, North Brabant. The third, a purple gown, having been owned by a sister of Mme. Mignot, returned to madame after her sister's death, and was burned during the great fire at Charleston in 1861. The authenticity of the sole surviving gown appears to be pretty well established.
[The New York Times, June 19, 1880.]

Gravesite Details

Thanks due to Thomas Wayland for providing death certificate of Cornelia Churchell.

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