The Detroit News (possibly inspired by recent episodes of Downton Abbey) has come forth with stories of Michigan women of the late 1800s who turned up their noses at the lumberjacks and pasties of Michigan, for barons and caviar in Europe. It's an interesting story, with tales of women from Michigan who got caught in foreign rebellions, rode hundreds of miles on camel-back and lived in castles once they were married to royalty.

And then there's Clara Ward. Clara was from Detroit, but had been sent to school in London by her wealthy family. She was kicked out of two schools, but she was known as "the most beautiful woman in Europe". As a teenager, Clara married a prince who liked hunting - more than he did Clara. One night he took her to a restaurant in Paris, where she fell in love with a five-foot-one Gypsy violinist named Rigo. She ran off with Rigo, got married, got cut off from her family's money and ended up modeling cigarettes and posing for postcards. And apparently doing the 1890s version of twerking, or something.

Sadly, for everyone back then - there was no reality TV or internet to document any of this.


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