Elisabet Ney


Elisabet Ney : biography

January 26, 1833 – June 29, 1907

Early life

Ney was born in Münster, Westphalia, Germany to Johann Adam Ney, a stonecarver, and his wife Anna Elizabeth on January 26, 1833. The only other surviving child in the Ney family was her older brother Fritz. Her parents were Catholics of Alsatian-Polish heritage. She was the great-niece of Michel Ney, Marshal of France. Early in life, she declared her goal "to know great persons."

Personal life

While visiting friends in Heidelberg in 1853, Ney made the acquaintance of a young Scottish medical student, scientist, and philosopherhttp://lsjunction.com/people/ney.htm named Edmund Montgomery. It would be a meeting of minds and idealist rebellious spirits. They kept in touch, although she viewed the institution of marriage as a state of bondage for women. He would not be deterred, and after he established a medical practice in Madeira, they were married at the British consulate on November 7, 1863.

Ney, however, remained outspoken about women’s roles. She refused to use her husband’s name, often denied she was even married, and once remarked:

She wore pants and rode her horses astride as men did. She liked to fashion her own clothes, which, in addition to the slacks, included boots and a black artist frock coat.

Montgomery was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1863. By 1870, the Franco-Prussian War had begun. In autumn of that year, Ney became pregnant with their first child. Montgomery received a letter from his friend Baron Carl Vicco Otto Friedrich Constantin von Stralendorff of Mecklenburg-Schwerin who had moved to Thomasville, Georgia with his new wife Margaret Elizabeth Russell of Boston, Massachusetts, declaring the location "Earth’s paradise." On January 14, 1871, Ney and Montgomery, accompanied by their housekeeper Cenci, emigrated to Georgia, to a colony promoted as a resort for consumptives. Son Arthur (1871–1873) was born in Georgia, and son Lorne (1872–1913) was born in Red Wing, Minnesota during one of their travels. Baron and Baroness von Stralendorff returned to Wismar Germany where he died on July 1, 1872.

In 1873, Ney traveled alone to Texas. With the help of German Consul Julius Runge in Galveston, she was shown Liendo Plantation near Hempstead in Waller County, Texas. On March 4, 1873, Montgomery and the rest of the family arrived, and he purchased it. While he tended to his research, she ran it for the next twenty years. Oldest son Arthur died of diphtheria in 1873.

Additional sources

  • Cutrer, Emily Fourmy, The Art of the Woman: The Life and Work of Elisabet Ney, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1988 (ISBN 0-8032-1438-3)
  • Fortune, Jan and Jean Barton, Elisabet Ney, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1943
  • Hendricks, Patricia D. and Becky Duval Reese, A Century of Sculpture in Texas: 1889 – 1989 (exhibition catalog), Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas, 1989
  • Little, Carol Morris, A Comprehensive Guide to Outdoor Sculpture in Texas, University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas, 1996 (ISBN 0-292-76034-5)

Elisabet Ney in fiction

Ney appears as a character in the novel A Twist at the End: A Novel of O. Henry (Simon & Schuster, 2000) by Steven Saylor.


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