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When Hats Were Big: 1909

When Hats Were Big: 1909

"Miss Twombly, whip of Ladies' Coach Run, and two other ladies beside coach on street." April 26, 1909. View full size. George Grantham Bain Collection.


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Twombly sisters

Hamilton McKown Twombly (1849 -1910) was from Boston. He had one older brother, Arthur Butler Twombly who outlived his brother by seven years. Previous generations may have moved to other areas of the US. Neither of the brothers had offspring to survive into adulthood.

Ruth was indeed the last owner of the Florham and Vinland estates. Her older sister, Florence Burden, has the task of selling off the family properties after her sister's death in September of 1954. This photo must be of Ruth since her sister Florence was in mourning for her husband who died two months earlier if this April 1909 date is accurate.

Ruth Twombly

This is Ruth Vanderbilt Twombly in the photo, daughter of Florence Vanderbilt and her husband Hamilton Twombly. She was not the last to die. Alice, the eldest, died at 16 years old in 1896. Hamilton drowned in 1906 at the age of 18. Ruth, who never married, died in 1954 in Paris. Florence Vanderbilt Twombly, daughter of William A. Burden, was the last of the Twombly children to die, in 1969.


Very long hat pins were used to hold those hats to buns of hair underneath.


According to a knowledgeable friend, Barry Dickinson, this is Ruth Twombly, daughter of Florence Vanderbilt (Alfred Vanderbilt's sister). He says that she was the last of the family to die, in the early 1950's in Paris. They owned the Florham estate in NJ, where they raised Hackney horses. Ruth was a member of the ladies Four-in-hand club and Belle Beach was her teacher. He also says that they used scarfs to hold the hats on, especially on ships.


Interesting last name, there's a Twombly Rd in NW ILL just south of Rockford, I wonder if they could be related? I'd like to see what happened on windy days.

Sun Protection

Women favored wide-brimmed hats and bonnets to keep the sun off their face.

Hats By...

Elmyra Gulch

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