Saturday, January 5, 2013

Surname Saturday- Berthoud

I have written of my two elderly twin cousins Maud and Meta Grimshaw before, telling my memories of them and their lives. Today I will look further into their past, to their grandparents and great grandparents. Finding more about them has led me to understand more about what made Maud and Meta the fascinating genteel southern ladies that they were.

Their grandfather was James Grimshaw and their grandmother was Mary Julia Berthoud. Mary Julia Berthoud was born in 1816 Kentucky to the parents of Nicholas Berthoud and Eliza Bakewell. Eliza's sister Lucy was the wife of John James Audubon, famous naturalist.

Nicholas Berthoud was the son of James Berthoud, who was really the Marquis de St. Pierre of France. Nicholas' mother was said to be a lady in waiting to Marie Antoinette. They had escaped the terror in France thanks to a loyal servant who had helped them flee, hiding the eight year old Nicholas under the carriage seat when they were stopped in fear that  he would be mistaken for the Dauphin whom was the same age. The servant was James Berthoud, he purchased tickets for the passage to America in his name for the family. The Marquis and family assumed the servant's name Berthoud and kept it upon arriving in America. They settled in Kentucky. Much can be found written about this story in the Kentucky histories, as well as most of the books written about John James Audubon. The Berthoud family and their story are always mentioned.

Nicholas met and married Eliza Bakewell when she was in Kentucky visiting her sister and brother in law. They had several children and among them was Mary Julia Berthoud.

The first portrait drawings Audubon did were of the Berthoud family. He first drew James Berthoud and after meeting with success he then drew Mrs. Berthoud, and later Nicholas. In later years he also painted Mary Julia Berthoud Grimshaw.

In going back and looking at all of these portraits, I can see the two women I loved so dearly in each of their faces. The noble French heritage is stamped upon them and was apparent in their actions and carriage. I have never known anyone quite like those two ladies. They had a proud history, and they knew it.

Mary Julia Berthoud Grimshaw as painted by Audubon

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