July 16, 2007

A Royal Relative?

kurt freshelThis is a snapshot which I inherited from my grandfather's collection. On the back is pencilled 1956
CPF + Sister Erma Mowbray
. CPF is Curtis P. Freshel, who married Emarel, my grandfather's half-sister. Curt and Emarel were well-known vegetarians. My aunt tells me that Curt's name was originally spelled Kurt but he changed it at the outbreak of World War I so that it wouldn't looked German or Austrian.

Anyway, I found Uncle Curt mentioned in a book on Amazon called Ripper and the Royals. Turns out that one Joseph Sickert, the son of a man whose reputation became linked with Jack the Ripper, had been looking for his long-lost brother Charles some years ago and thought it could be Curtis Freshel. It was not. However, Curt is said to be a grandson of Edward VII !

Here is what the book says:

An American, Henry Bailey Stevens... had once mentioned knowing another American, Curtis Freshel, who had a connection with the Royal Family. Stevens was traced, and in due course Joseph received the following letter from him. Though it provided no clue to Charles's whereabouts, it did reveal a gobbet of information ...

Dear Mr. Sickert,

I deeply appreciate your letter of August 28. Although I have to report that Curtis Freshel could not have been your brother, he must have been some sort of cousin.

He was born in Detroit on April 22, 1886. Most of his boyhood was spent in England, graduating from the International College in 1908. He died in his apartment in New York July 1 1968.

I do not know his grandmother's name, but she was a Lady-in-Waiting at Queen Victoria's court and was seduced by Prince Edward Albert probably in the early 1860's. The understanding was that if the child proved male he would be in line to the throne. She took her child to America and possibly with help from the Queen brought her up well. Curt's father was a successful industrialist with important holdings in both Detroit and Brazil.

In 1914 Curt married M.R.L. Sharp (nicknamed Emarel by Bernard Shaw and was a warm friend of them both) in Boston. There they used their beautiful home,'Providence House', as a cultural center and home for their Millenium Guild. My wife and I came to know them and admire them. The inflation caused by World War I nearly bankrupted them, and they moved to New York, where Curt developed Bakon [sic] Yeast, a profitable industry of the vitamin B class. He kept his lineage a secret until he knew Death was taking him.

I am enclosing two photographs of him, young and old.

Yours sincerely,
(signed) Henry Bailey Stevens

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Said photos are not in the book but you can see a photo of Curt Freshel with Henry Bailey Stevens (who wrote the letter) at http://www.ivu.org/congress/1949na/. The Freshels, by the way, did not have any children.

Since I don't know much about Queen Victoria, I pieced together the following using a chart in the book plus Wikipedia.

Queen Victoria's mother was German. Victoria and Albert's son was Albert Edward,, who became King Edward VII in 1902. Although he was married to Princess Alexandra of Denmark, he had numerous affairs.

Their children were George V and Prince Albert Victor. George became king and Albert Victor had a daughter who married Walter Sickert; their sons were Joseph Sickert. and Charles Sickert. Charles, it turns out, was deaf and epileptic and died at age 14 but apparently this was hushed up at the time. Father Walter was an artist who became intrigued by a rumor that Jack the Ripper had lodged in his room. Much later, writers theorized that Walter Sickert WAS Jack the Ripper; thus his story becomes part of the book Ripper and the Royals. Son Joseph's efforts to clear his father's name are part of the book Ripper And The Royals , which is searchable on Amazon.com.

2 comments:

Linda said...

A reader sent me this information on Curt's family: Curt's grandmother was Wilhelmina KOESCH (married name) and his mother was Louise Koesch, born betw. 1859-1862 Curt's father was Alfred Freschl, the industrialist.

My correspondent asked about Henry Bailey Stevens. I found his bio at http://www.izaak.unh.edu/specoll/mancoll/hbstevens.htm

Judith Berlowitz said...

Hi Linda,
Here I am again.
First I need to correct my misspelling of Curt's mother's and grandmother's last name: it was KOELSCH! I have found the grandmother's grave, in the Jewish Mountain Home Cemetery in Kalamazoo and can send you a photo if you like. No mention of any royal liaisons there!
Another item: The explanation for the change of spelling. I found a Chicago Blue Book listing for the family, from the year 1908, LONG before WWI, and Curt appears as "Curt P. FRESHEL" - so the mystery continues.
Take care,
Judith