October 30

This Day in History

General Interest

Oct 30, 1908:

Queen of American high society dies

Caroline Schermerhorn Astor, wife of William Waldorf Astor, the wealthy newspaper proprietor, dies at the age of 78.

Even before her union with William Astor—the grandson of the American fur magnate John Jacob Astor—Caroline Schermerhorn was prime American aristocracy: She was the daughter of a wealthy merchant and descended from Dutch nobles. In 1890, William and Caroline immigrated to Britain, where they bought their way into British royalty. But their British citizenship, and William's title of viscount, were only means of advancing their already formidable position in New York society. Caroline's death marked the end of old-style high society in New York City. She had ruled over the upper crust as an un-crowned American queen, and an invitation to one of Mrs. Astor's famous balls was the ultimate symbol of one's social rank.

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