A Green Mount Cemetery tour guide keeps history alive
“Betsy Patterson had some Kardashian in her,” says Wayne Schaumburg as he points to the light gray, well-kept headstone of the daughter of one of Baltimore’s historical patriarchs, William Patterson. His past-meets-present analogy—one of many that comes with his explanations on his tour of Green Mount Cemetery—refers to Ms. Patterson’s love of spending her father’s money on travel and other lavish activities. She might’ve fallen into the category of famous-for-being-famous during the early 19th century as well.
Schaumburg had just told the tale of how Ms. Patterson married Napoleon Bonaparte’s younger brother, Jérôme Bonaparte, after meeting him at a gala for Baltimore’s elite while he was visiting the city on leave. After they were married, though, the French royals protested and recalled Jérôme back to France, forcing him to annul the marriage lest he be financially cut off from the royal family. But, having given birth to Jérôme’s son, Betsy spent the rest of her life pining for her royal ex-husband and fighting for his family to acknowledge their son as royalty.
“See that her gravestone,” says Schaumburg while framing it with his arms in Vanna White fashion, “still professes her love for Jérôme.” The stone reads, “Sacred to the memory of Elizabeth, Daughter of William Patterson, and wife of Jérôme Bonaparte.” At the bottom in italics, it states, “After life’s fitful fever, she rests well.”
“She loved him until the day she died at 94,” Schaumburg says, almost wistfully. This story complete, he quickly moves on to the next headstone and the next story.
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