Years ago, I began extensively sorting out the Rands & Other Families of North Chester, NH in search of my own ancestors. Someday I’ll get the book done....but not today. :) However, I thought I’d share a little something I found about a talented distant cousin.
Cora Chase was the daughter of Lucius Wilder and Mary (Rand) Chase. She was the youngest of five, and the fourth daughter, born in May 1892 in Haverhill, MA. According to a wide variety of sources, about 1909 at the age of 17, she traveled to Italy to study voice, and perform there as well as other places across Europe for 10 years. Her well publicized return to America in 1920, and her anticipated portrayal of Gilda in “Rigoletto” with The Metropolitan Opera House, seems to show many in the musical community were anxiously awaiting her performance.
Feb 5, 1921, The New York Times reports she was “unknown to her own countrymen when she stepped on stage” - personally I think that’s an understatement given the amount of articles the previous year across the nation that mention her. There is no argument though that in her opening performance she stepped on stage in the second act, and 10 minutes later was in the midst of an ovation that could not wait catapulting her into the society pages everywhere. “Charming Cora Chase of Haverhill, Mass., tall, strong, slender, a New Englander every inch of her, had somehow touched the heart-strings of the most aloof and difficult musical audience in the world.”
Cora Chase married her childhood sweetheart Samuel Thurston Williamson on May 5th 1923 in Haverhill, Ma. He was, at the time, part of the Washington staff for The New York Times. President Harding apparently sent flowers and a telegram which stated “Mrs Harding joins in most hearty congratulations and most cordial wishes to yourself and bride. We shall be glad to have you share with Mrs Williamson the high regard we hold for you. ~Warren G. Harding”
Cora is memorialized by The Haverhill Mural Project in the City of Haverhill, MA (see link below). She d. Feb 1984, a91, in Rockport, Ma. Samuel had died at age 70, June 18, 1962 in Gloucester, Ma. He was by then the former editor of Newsweek (having been the first) and Sunday assistant editor of The New York Times. They had no surviving children at the time of his death.
Check out more on the couple in the articles listed under sources and numerous others over the mentioned time periods.
Until next time...Live & cherish the moment while exploring the past!
Photo via: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ggb2006007347/
The New York Times, May 6, 1923, “Cora Chase Weds S.T. Williamson”
The New York Times, Feb 5, 1921, “Cora Chase Gets Ovation at Debut”
The New York Times, Feb 10 1929 “Cora Chase, Soprano, in Recital Over WOR”
Boston Herald, June 19, 1962, “Samuel T. Williamson, 70, First Editor of Newsweek”
Massachusetts Vital RecordsSocial Security Death Index, for Cora Williamson
The Haverhill Mural Project - http://teamhaverhill.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/HaverhillMuralMap-July2010.pdf
Amylynne (Baker) Murphy