|Father||James William Clements, M.D.|
Estelle was a close friend and confidante to Bessie Pardee Van Wickle McKee and Bessie's daughter Marjorie. She was a beloved "second mother" to Augustine. Bessie's daughters adored Estelle, whom they always called 'Aunt Dellie'.
Estelle Clements had been a little-known part of Blithewold's history until a study of her diaries and letters helped clarify her role in the family history. This unassuming, cultured woman played an influential role in the life and well-being of Bessie Pardee Van Wickle McKee and her family for over fifty years. Through her writings - letters, diaries, and journals - she left behind not only an interesting self-portrait, but valuable information about people and places connected with Blithewold.
Estelle was born in 1849 in New York, to James William Clements, M.D. and Caroline Ward Clements. While living in New York, Estelle taught at The Graham School, the one attended by Bessie and all her sisters. After Dr. Clements' death in 1892, Estelle and her mother went to Hazleton to live, and Estelle taught elementary education to a small group of Pardee children, including Marjorie Van Wickle. She and her mother were on hand to help look after Augustus Van Wickle and Marjorie when Bessie spent extended time at a Sanatorium in 1893. Estelle was well-educated and well-connected and, like Bessie, a member of the prestigious Colonial Dames of America. When Augustus Van Wickle died in 1898, Estelle moved into Bessie's home to help her and the children. She lived with Bessie for the rest of her life, first in Hazleton, then later in Bristol and Boston.
By today's standards Estelle Clements' life appears sadly limited, but there is no sign of regret or envy in her prolific writings and she seemed fulfilled in her role of nurturer to Bessie and her family. Estelle was in Greenville, Mississippi, visiting her brother William, when she died suddenly at the age of seventy-nine. Will Clements made the last entry in his sister's diary, which seems a perfect summation: "Thus ends a most wonderfully self-sacrificing life."
--M Whitehead 2016, Blithewold Curator