Evelyn Nesbit, later to be known as "the most beautiful artists' model in the world," was born in Tarentum, Pa., a little village near Pittsburg, in 1884. Even as a baby she was surpassingly pretty, and her face, like that of a dark-haired cherub, attracted hundreds of visitors to her parents' humble home, a little two stoiy frame cottage worth less than $2,000.
Evelyn's life was like that of most young girls in country towns. She went to Sunday school regularly, and at the age of five made her first public appearance in a Sunday school entertainment.
The family moved to Pittsburg, and Evelyn was still a school girl when the death of her fathter, Winfield Scott Nesbit, a struggling lawyer, left her mother and hersrlf in almost destitute incumbrances on the little property left by her father shut off almost every source of income. The schoolgirl had to face a more serious problem than usually falls to the lot of a girl in short skirts.
When Evelyn was only thirteen years old, a Mrs. Darragh, a portrait painter and miniature artist of Philadelphia, discovered her rare beauty and painted her head. Later Phillips, a photographer of Philadelphia, asked the Pittsburg child to sit for several photographic studies. The pictures were printed in an art magazine and attracted attention. Before her father had been dead long Evelyn Nesbit found that she was being sought by such artists as Carroll Beckwith, F. S. Church, Carl Blenner, and J. Wells Champney.
Demand for the privilege of photographing her beautiful face or portraying it on canvas became so great that the money earned by the little girl by posing became the mainstay of the family. With her mother she moved to New York, took rooms in a low-priced boarding house, and began frequenting studios of famous artists. Her work was in constant demand. It was while she was posing that she met the man whose acts toward her resulted in his killing by Harry Kendall Thaw. It was when her mother, modest, yet proud of her wonderfully beautiful little daughter just budding into girlhood, took her to a photographer's that Evelyn Nesbit flashed into public view as a famous beauty. The pictures were so remarkable, so perfect in feature, so graceful in every outline that the artist exhibited them in his studio.
Little wonder it was that every one who passed the show case stopped spell-bound by the youthful beauty of the subject; little wonder that Charles Dana Gibson, then in the zenith of his success, with his studies of the American girl, looked upon Evelyn's photographs in rapture and wished immediately to meet the original and arrange to have her pose for him.
One day as the little model was about to leave the studio she was met by a man about to enter the door.
'By jove! Gibson, who is this little vision of the empyrean blue? Tell me. I must know the little sprite, whether she is of this earth or just a fairy from out of wonderland,' the man added, lightly, as he held the girl a shy and pretty captive at the door.
The usual unconventional studio introduction followed. The man who gasped in admiration of the exquisite flower-like beauty of the young girl was Stanford White, the renowned architect; the girl was Florence Evelyn Nesbit, artist's model.
The man of the world saw in the innocent young thing an easy victim to his wiles, and opportunities were made for him to meet the girl, whom he planned to make his puppet, his plaything, his slave.
His efforts were not long in being crowned by success. The pretty trinkets which the girl loved so well were hers with the first expression of her desire; she was flattered when she realized from whom she was receiving adulation, the subtle, crafty methods of the connoisseur of beauty, of art, the epicure in all his fleshly wants, the polished manner, the refined taste that were his by birth, all added a charm new and irresistible to the ingenuous, luxury-loving little model with the eyes of a Madonna and the smile of a siren.
Soon the beautiful, innocent Evelyn Nesbit was ensconced in a high class apartment house and Stanford White, who paid the bills, became a constant visitor to the magnificently appointed suite.
There she lived in ease and the artist-architect brought his men friends to see this girl, and boasted that she was his "by right of discovery." She was taken to the restaurants complimented by the men and women about town. Evelyn Nesbit became the toast of the companions of White.
Finally a stage career was mapped out for her. White managed it, and Evelyn Nesbit's fame spread as she flaunted her lithe form and graceful beauty in ''Florodora" and ''The Wild Rose.''
It was at this time that Harry Thaw made her acquaintance. The late hours and the endless, restless round of pleasure had told upon the fragile girl and she fell ill.
A European trip was planned for her and Stanford White was one of the party. In a few weeks they returned to New York, but Evelyn Nesbit could never dance again. Instead she was sent to a boarding school where White hoped that she would regain her health sufficiently to reappear upon the stage and, incidentally, learn better how to spell and write.
At this time Evelyn Nesbit was a mere slip of a girl, just sixteen, with a wealth of brown hair and great brown eyes. It was in Mrs. Henry C. De Mille's school that White chose to have his "ward'' educated, at "Pimlico," N. J. Stanford "White's checks were forwarded with great regularity and the girl, known in the school to be the ''ward" of the great and prosperous architect, became a favorite among the girLs -- girls of the most exclusive of families.
It began soon to be whispered that Evelyn Nesbit was a soubrette and exceptions were taken to the visits of Stanford White and of Harry Thaw and other men of their types.
One day Stanford White went to the school in a big touring car and invited some of the pupils for a ride. During that ride his conversation was of such a nature that three of the girls insisted upon being permitted to alight and they returned to the school on foot.
This caused such an uproar in the school that Evelyn was asked to leave, but she was prevented from going by a sudden illness. During this illness, Harry Thaw, who had made her acquaintance in New York while she was on the stage, was in constant attendance upon her and when the girl was finally forced to leave, Thaw was there to defray all her expenses.
Stanford White meanwhile had deserted the beautiful girl and refused to pay her tuition, which amounted to $3,000. He declared he was Evelyn's "guardian" by courtesy only. His failure to keep his word to defray the girl's expenses was a severe blow to Mrs. De Mille, whose school had become so depleted through the notoriety that he had brought upon it that it was forced to disband.
Meanwhile Thaw became desperately in love with the girl and took her back to her mother and told her of his love and begged her to take Evelyn to Europe as his guest. It was in Pittsburg sometime later that he married the girl who had been spurned and repudiated and left friendless by the man who claimed her "by right of discovery."
Evelyn's stage career was brief but brilliant. While an actress in musical comedies she was pronounced by all ''The most beautiful woman behind the footlights," but her natural beauty was destined to become fatal -- fatal to Stanford White -- fatal to her own good name -- fatal to her husband's hope of happiness.
A great trial has come to a close. It has attracted the attention of the entire civilized world for three widely separated and distinctly defined reasons -- the unusual degree of heart interest underlying the tragedy that brought it about; the startling and sensational disclosures of life in the great metropolis, and the legal precedents established, particularly in relation to the universal, unwritten law.
Realizing that this remarkable case is destined to be more than a passing sensation of the hour or the year; that it will exercise a wide influence on the thought and lives of uncounted thousands, it has seemed meet that a carefully prepared, clean and accurate record should be given the world in permanent form.
This, because its eloquent sermon cost too great a price to be lost, and its awful warning against a vicious life is of too great value to the world to trust it to fitful memory.
Men standing on the brink of the precipice hewn by unbridled passion, may read in the terrible fate that overtook Stanford White at the hands of an avenging husband, an injunction against the worst in their nature and reflect before it is too late. Mothers, tempted by the pressing, material needs of the day to permit tender daughters to aid in the family support by entering occupations, which, while not vicious, are beset by pitfalls, may think twice before reaching a decision after contemplating the sufferings and humiliations suffered by Evelyn Nesbit.
Young women in the exuberance of youth, hungering for the empty bubble known as a career, may recall the pathetic picture presented by the same girl when on the witness stand as Mrs. Thaw, and recoil from thought of a butterfly life after viewing that crushed, unhappy figure.
Even more exalted personages may find profit in taking inventory of the Thaw case. Prosecuting attorneys are found in every county in this broad land. Let them observe the attitude of District Attorney Jerome in this case and search out their minds to determine if they are ever guilty of persecution in the name of prosecution, or inflict unnecessary torture on the innocent, to vindicate an immaterial theory, of interest only to the occupants of the grandstand.
Modern times reveal no parallel to the Thaw case in its various phases. Shakespeare's wonderful creations of fancy contain no more thrilling features nor more humanizing passages in their philosophic application than have been disclosed by this life tragedy of love, hate, villainy, perfidy and outraged innocence.
Chronological Story of the Thaw Trial.
June 25, 1906 -- Thaw killed Stanford White.
June 28, 1906 -- Indicted by grand jury.
Jan. 21 -- Case set for trial.
Jan. 23 -- Trial began.
Feb. 1 -- Jury completed.
Feb. 4 -- State presented its testimony.
Feb. 4 — Defense introduced its first witness, a minor character.
Feb. 7 -- Evelyn Nesbit Thaw, wife of the defendant, called as a witness.
Feb. 11 -- Dr. C. C. Wiley, expert on insanity called by defense and severely cross-examined by District Attorney Jerome.
Feb. 12 -- Delphin Michael Delmas assumed full charge of the defense.
Feb. 12 -- Dr. Britton D. Evans, chief medical expert for the defense, called to the witness stand.
Feb. 14 -- Trial delayed by the death of Juror Belton's wife.
Feb. 19 -- Evelyn Nesbit Thaw recalled.
Feb. 20-26 -- Evelyn Nesbit Thaw cross-examined.
Feb. 27 -- Evelyn Nesbit Thaw recalled by defense.
Feb. 28 -- Dr. Evans cross-examined.
March 6 -- Mrs. William Thaw, mother of the defendant, testified.
March 7 -- Trial delayed by death of a relative of Justice Fitzgerald, presiding judge.
March 8 -- Defense rested.
March 11 -- State began rebuttal testimony.
March 12 -- State called James Clinch Smith, brother-in-law of Stanford White.
March 15 -- Thaw declared sane by state's experts.
March 18 -- Couit admitted the Abe Hummel affidavit in which Evelyn Nesbit is alleged to have denounced Thaw.
March 20 -- District Attorney Jerome asked court to appoint a commission in lunacy to examine Thaw.
March 21 -- Lunacy commission appointed.
April 4 -- Lunacy commission pronounced Thaw sane.
April 8-9 -- Attorney Delmas made his plea to the jury.
April 10 -- District Attorney Jerome closed for the state.
April 10 -- Justice Fitzgerald read his charge to the jury.
April 11 -- Jury called for rereading of evidence after having retired.
April 12 -- Jury annoimced disagreement, and was discharged.
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Full Trial Details:
Harry Thaw Trials (Stanford White Murder)