Heritage, Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 1988 Page: 13
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enjoy visiting with intelligent women who
came into her sphere. In fact, she welcomed
and was friends with Elizabet Ney, a
bohemian female not widely accepted in
upper class society of Victorian Austin.
Lucadia managed to mix business with
pleasure by enjoying the parties that she
gave; at least she reports them in letters to
her sisters as being pleasant while complaining
a bit about the trouble they were
to give. The entertainment at one of her
parties is of "tableaux", a popular entertainment
of the time:
"One scene was a wedding scene. Miss
Groce with a bridal wreath and veil, and Mr.
Fisher as groom. Mr. Robards with his bands
on, and prayerbook in hand, and Marshall
giving away the bride, made a very pretty
Hallie Bremond frankly sounds bored
and listless in her diaries. She rarely mentions
social interactions outside of her
family. She frequently goes to visit her
mother, or her mother comes to visit her.
She seems to sit at home and "sew a little on
my black basque" most of the time for the
ten years her diaries exist. She reports her
husband and son and daughter attending
the theater often, as much as five nights per
week. And most of the time she says, "I did
not go," but does not specify why.
Southwell summarizes the social life of
the upper crust of Austin society as follows:
"In July, all those who could afford it went
to the coast to escape Austin's hot summer,
but until that time the social season continued
in full swing. The season ending July
1891 saw 75 receptions, more than fifty
germans (dances), a score of balls, and over
a hundred and fifty card parties and musicales.
In addition, theatre parties, moonlight
dances, lake steamer dances, open houses at
New Years, afternoon buggy rides, etc."
While the women may have enjoyed
these events, they also served the important
social function of maintaining ties
among people of the same class, and providing
their children with the opportunities
to meet and marry suitable partners.
The maintenance of these kinds of ties in
society also had the function of maintain
ing the status quo, very desirable in a period
of such change as Austin and the western
world were experiencing in the Victorian
RELATIONSHIP WITH SPOUSE
From the distance of 120 years, it might
be easy to assume that because of the restrictions
placed on women by society in
general and husbands in particular, it
would be difficult to be happy; that a great
gulf must have been fixed between husband
and wife, a distance making real intimacy
difficult. However, Lucadia and
Marshall Pease's letters and diaries reflect a
very happy married relationship. Marshall
repeatedly tells Lucadia of his high regard
for her wisdom and intelligence, his deep
concern for her continued good health and
welfare, his love for her and the children,
his respect for her industry and excellent
discharge of her role as wife and companion.
She seems to have been very happy
with her life, being a woman who is valued
by her husband and knows it. And she
clearly respects and values him as well.
Hallie Bremond, on the other hand,
sounds deeply bored and passive, with little
energy or enthusiasm for her life. She rarely
mentions her husband, except to report
that he said this or that about the weather.
She seems to have contributed little to the
subsistence of her family. She came from a
family that had servants and position in
Southern society, and married a man who
could afford servants to attend to things,
while she was idle. Her diary describes the
weather every day. Admittedly, in a central
Texas mansion without central air or heat,
it must have been of interest. However, it is
difficult to understand why she kept a diary
at all when she had so little to report about
activities and relationships. This diary did
not reflect a person who felt valued.
The 1866 obituary of Mrs. Mary L.
Robertson, a relative of Hallie Bremond,
has some powerful statements about the
virtues of this woman. Even if, as is often
the case, reports of these virtues are greatly
exaggerated, they present a reflection of
what people preferred to believe about
women. The obituary uses language indicating
that selflessness and devotion were
the ideal for a woman, in death as in life.
"She was educated, a zealous Christian,
and possessed to a remarkable degree all the
attributes which crown and ornament the
lives of noble women. Faith, hope and charity
were the moving impulses of her life, and
scores of people in this city can bear tribute
to her sterling worth in all that pertains to a
beautiful life made hallowed by deeds of
kindness and acts of unselfish love." (Austin
Daily Stateman, 1866)
The lifestyle of Elizabet Ney offers an
interesting counterpoint to the Victorian
ideal and the lives of upper class women of
Austin in that era.
She was not, in several respects, a Victorian.
She was born and entered her career
as a sculptor in Germany, where the Victorian
influence was not predominant. She
was involved in philosophical discussion
and political intrigue with such figures as
Schopenhauer, Garibaldi, Bismarck and
Ludwig of Bavaria. She came to the United
States as a part of an intellectual Utopian
movement. During her life in Austin, as a
55-year-old woman, she very much enjoyed
flaunting convention, so ostentatiously
that it was impossible for the ladies
of upper middle class Austin to mingle with
her. She was opposed to the convention of
marriage and, even though legally married
to her husband, she pretended not to be.
She rode around Austin in a chariot, wearing
a grecian gown.
The story of her home life is far from one
of domestic bliss. She didn't like parenting
and, frankly, failed at it. Her only surviving
son remembered bitterly all his life her
controlling ways. Although she and her
husband appear to have been quite fond of
one another, they lived apart much of the
time, he at the plantation near Houston,
she in Austin in her studio. She did, in fact,
have some good friends in Austin, and was
often a visitor at the Pease home.
Elizabet Ney earned a good living
through her art and was not dependent on
a man for her economic support. She was
extremely independent and had friends
and life very separate from her husband.
Because of her unconventional behavior,
many very disreputable stories circulated
about her, all reflecting a distrust of
the private behavior of one who was so
unlike the norm in public. The stories were
about liaisons with multiple men, corpseburning
and witchcraft surrounding the
death of her baby. The contrast with her
friend Lucadia is interesting, since although
Lucadia disagreed with many cus
toms and conventions, she managed to
conform sufficiently to be accepted and
respected in mainstream culture. Elizabet
could not and would not blend into the
Victorian Austin scene.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 1988, periodical, Spring 1988; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45435/m1/13/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.