Kate Chase lived a belle-of-the-ball life in Washington, D.C. during the Lincoln administration.
The stunning daughter of Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase married immensely wealthy Rhode Island Senator William Sprague.
She dazzled Washington society with her expensive jewelry and eye-catching party gowns.
The senator drank heavily though, and Kate’s many male admirers were the source of rumors.
In 1873, her beloved father died, a financial panic wiped out the Sprague fortune and Kate gave birth to a fourth child, who was mentally handicapped.
The Spragues separated but reconciled.
Sprague’s jealous tirades made headlines. He attacked a New York senator with a gun. The Spragues divorced in 1882.
Kate went abroad with her three daughters, leaving her son in his father’s custody.
Four years later, she returned to the U.S., her beauty faded and her clothes shabby.
She went to live in poverty at Edgewood, an estate outside Washington that her late father had purchased.
She survived by raising chickens and selling milk.
Her son committed suicide in 1890.
Source: Reveille in Washington by Margaret Leech