Person Record

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Name Clements, Estelle
Born 1849
Father James William Clements, M.D.
Mother Caroline Ward
Notes 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

Associated Records

Image of Doll - 1906 ca

Doll - 1906 ca

Female doll named "May Blossom", 18" in height, bisque head, blue glass eyes, open mouth with teeth showing, blonde hair, strung joints at elbows, wrists, top of legs and knees, defined fingers. Costume is ivory dress with lace at top of bodice waist, wrists and skirt. Under layer is apron in off white with rows of pleats and scalloped edge. This is a Kestner 162. This doll was a favorite of Augustine's. Named May Blossom, the doll was "saved from the fire" when the first Blithewold burned in 1906. Family friend, Estelle Clements, made beautiful clothes for the doll, a whole wardrobe of coats, hats, dresses, petticoats, even handkerchiefs, some of which are preserved as part of Blithe

Image of Towel, Hand -

Towel, Hand -

One of two cream-color linen decorative towels. Smooth damask weave. "M van W" (Marjorie Van Wickle) monogram. Top and bottom borders have a cutwork design. One edge is finished with a row of tatting*. Estelle Clements writes in her diary about tatting and embroidering guest towels for Marjorie. Perhaps she worked on these particular towels. Excerpts from the transcription of her "Line A Day" journal, January 1st 1914 To December 31st 1914 are below. FEBRUARY 3rd: Tuesday. Swansea. Ther. 32 degrees. Finished Line-a-Day for 1913 at 3.45 spent ½ hour on typewriter. Taught TATTING to Mrs. Tracy in A.M. Wrote & finished Jane Austen: Her Houses & Her Friends. Mrs. Tracy & Miss Dr

Image of Cradle - 1903

Cradle - 1903

Doll-size rocking cradle. Dark stained wood. Includes a stuffed mat and pillow, covered in cotton fabric with light blue background and depictions of small flowers, roosters, stars, hearts, and barns in red, yellow, ivory, blue, green colors. A letter, written by Bessie Van Wickle McKee to Estelle Clements in 1903, refers to this cradle: "The bed for May Blossom (Augustine's favorite doll, 1976.1.0528) is a perfect beauty. Augustine will be crazy over it. The sheets & pillow case are all nicely done & the sheet goes over the bolster so that it is all right & if Augustine does not want it, we can take it off. The bed looks so sweet - the blanket & spread have not arrived but presum

Image of Rug -

Rug -

Moderate size , Malayer area rug. Main colors are dark blue, light blue, pink, cream/white. Evaluated by University of RI students in 1988, #28 in their list. They indicate that the knots per square inch (warp x weft) is 15 x 20.

Image of Pot, Chamber -

Pot, Chamber -

White glazed ceramic pot with a painted, blue floral design.

Image of Chest Of Drawers - 1730 ca

Chest Of Drawers - 1730 ca

Dark wood, probably mahogany, chest of drawers. Four drawers are mounted on a base with ball and claw feet. The feet appear to be Pennsylvania style. There are decorative carved edges on the top and base. The handles and key holes are brass.

Image of Pitcher - 1882

Pitcher - 1882

Pottery pitcher with a green and blue glaze decorated with flower circles. This is a Doulton Lambeth piece. Royal Doulton's first pottery was established by John Doulton in the Lambeth section of London in 1815. His son, Henry, who succeeded him, hired talented artists to decorate the pieces beginning in 1871.

Image of Vase -

Vase -

White porcelain vase with a blue and gold flower pattern made by Royal Crown Derby. The 1" top opening is oval shaped. The Maker's Mark shows that this piece was produced in the Osmaston Road factory between 1877and 1890.

Image of Tray -

Tray -

White china pin tray with advertising for a Paris concern as follows: "LAURENT / Avenue Gabriel / Champ Elysees / Tel. Elysees 14.50".

Image of Chair -

Chair -

This is a cherry fiddleback chair with a rush seat, Philadelphia style. The back legs are straight and connected with a single stretcher. The front legs end with ball feet connected with a turned stretcher. There are two plain stretchers on each side. This chair belonged to Estelle Clement's grandfather. It was re-rushed in 2014. This chair and three others were willed to Bessie McKee by Estelle Clements in a document dated November 8, 1927. The description in the document is "4 fiddle back chairs in cherry, straw seats, in third story."

Image of Bed -

Bed -

This bed has a brass headboard and footboard and flat springs under the mattress. The top rail on both ends is unpainted brass while the remainder of the rails have been painted a cream color. The head has two large outer rails and six smaller inner rails. The rails join the cross piece with decorative medallions. The foot is in a convex pattern with two large outer rails, then two smaller inner rails on each side joining the top horizontal rail, then there are five smaller inner rails joining the lower horizontal rail.

Image of Painting -

Painting -

This is a watercolor landscape of a house in a marsh. It is signed L.F. Edmonds on the bottom left. The frame is a gold leaf collection frame.

Image of Frame, Picture -

Frame, Picture -

This is a padded board covered in the front with gold velvet and on the reverse with green silk faille which serves as a frame for four painted miniatures of Estelle Clements female ancestors. The miniatures are all set in gold oval frames and sewn onto the board with different sorts of thread. On the back is a copy of Estelle's description of each painting. The front and back coverings are hand sewn together. A brass hangar is screwed into the top of the board with two brass screws. See portrait descriptions 1976.1.1491.2-4. The miniatures were left to Bessie by Estelle Clements in a letter dated November 8th 1927.

Image of Painting -

Painting -

This is a miniature portrait of Hetty Griffin, identified by Estelle Clements as mother of Caroline Griffin and cousin of Mrs. Oliver Delancey Ward, grandmother of Estelle Clements. The woman wears a white cap and double lace high collar over a black dress. She has a lacy shawl draped over one arm. The oval frame is copper colored. On the reverse is an oval insert with the monogram "HG" in script. This miniature is displayed on a velvet covered board (1976.1.1491.1) with three other miniatures (1976.1.1491.3-5).

Image of Painting - 1862 ca

Painting - 1862 ca

This is a miniature portrait of Caroline Delancey Clements (sister of Estelle Clements) born December 5, 1858 died June 1862. The painting is of a young girl with bare shoulders and a white drape against a blue background. The frame is gold colored with a plain inner frame and an embossed outer frame. The back is plain. This miniature is displayed on a velvet covered board (1976.1.1491.1) with three other miniatures (1976.1.1491.2-5).

Image of Chair -

Chair -

This is a cherry fiddleback chair with a rush seat. The back legs are straight and connected with a single stretcher. The front legs end with ball feet connected with a turned stretcher. There are two plain stretchers on each side.