#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #22 Nina Tourville (?-1910)

My annual research trip to Salt Lake City is coming up fast and I have started preparing for it. I often get the same comment before leaving: “Again?! Aren’t you done?” No I’m not… 😉

Here is one example of a research I will be doing while I’ll be there.

If you have read some of my previous posts you must know by now that I looooove newspapers! Well, there is this one article I spotted a long time ago and I always wondered who that extravagant Nina Tourville was. Here it goes:

“All” Laugh; But Few Weep. ~ None of Two Thousand Who Attended Wedding is Present at Funeral. — St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 27 [1910]. Only four carriages followed the hearse which took Mrs. Nina Tourville to her grave in East St. Louis yesterday. Among the mourners were none of 2,000 men and women whom only two years ago she entertained at the feast of food and drink which she prepared when she married a second time, a month after her first husband’s death.

Mrs. Tourville will be remembered as the woman who spent $6,000 in one day. To Tourville as a wedding present she gave $300 worth of clothing and $6,500 worth of jewelry. She hired the Lame Goose saloon outright, including a hall on the second floor, and issued a general invitation to “everybody in East St. Louis”, to help her celebrate the marriage. The bill for the celebration was $6,000.

—Tuesday, September 27, 1910, The Coffeyville Daily Journal (Coffeyville, KS), page 5

Wow! Can you imagine?! $6,000 in 1910! And the jewelry? What was it? A crown??

The only clue I had was a name, Nina Tourville, and obviously I knew it was her second husband’s name but no first name for him. I already knew there were Tourvilles in East St. Louis but with events like this one that happened between the census years, the search is not that easy.

Fortunately for me, I kept looking in the newspapers and I came upon this one which contains more details:

Once Rich; Dies in Want ~ Mrs. Nina Tourville, who spent $6,000 at Wedding, dies in poverty ~ Mrs. Nina Tourville of East St. Louis, better known as the “Lame Goose Bride,” or as the woman who spent a small forune [sic] in a single night, was buried Thursday from her home, 818 Bowman avenue. None of the pomp which distinguished her last wedding was attendant at her burial. She died in poverty.

Her first husband, T. J. Deleban, died November 15, 1908, leaving her a $6,000 insurance policy. The day following the payment of the money she announced that her marriage to J. W. Tourville would be celebrated in the Lame Goose saloon. All of the city was invited and almost all of her little estate was spent in entertaining her guests.

Tourville died a short time ago, but he only left her $2,000 in insuarnce [sic], and it was so involved in legal tangles that the widow had secured none of it.

Friday, September 23, 1910, Belleville News Democrat (Belleville, IL), page 3

OK, now we’re talking. I do have one John W. Tourville from East St. Louis in my database. He’s listed as being married to “Minnie”, no marriage date or place though, but he supposedly died on December 31, 1909 in East St. Louis, so he could be Nina’s husband “who died a short time ago”. But his death date and place are not sourced.


Broadway in East St. Louis, IL ~ Virtual East St. Louis Historical Society

I didn’t find anything in the East St. Louis City Directories available. As for the Illinois marriages on the Web, the date span ends in 1900 for St. Clair County. I didn’t find anything either on any Deleban or Delehan in the 1900 US Census. Nothing as well on Find A Grave.

So, from my Québec home, this is kind of a brick wall for me. The marriage licenses for St. Clair County are available on microfilm at the Family History Library. As we already know that the marriage took place one month after the death of Nina’s first husband, that should be quite easy to find.

An update will be published while I’m over there. I will keep you posted! Wish me luck!


2 thoughts on “#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #22 Nina Tourville (?-1910)

  1. Hi Diane: John William Tourville is my Great-Uncle and he married once to Mina Mary (Minnie) Mitchell. I have the information on my family tree (ancestry). He died of tuberculosis at the family home located at 1314 N. 11th Street in East St Louis. He is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Belleville, IL. I have his ‘will’ but not the marriage license. I was also aware of the marriage celebration at the ‘Lone Goose Saloon’. Thanks for posting. I enjoyed reading it again. Cousin, Bob

    • Oh! thank you Bob! I will go after that marriage license then! 🙂

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