Lexington: Belle Brezing’s Gravesite

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Calvary Cemetery, Lexington, Kentucky

Lexington’s notorious madam, Belle Brezing or Breezing (1859-1940), is buried at Calvary Cemetery, a Catholic cemetery in Lexington, Kentucky.  She is believed to have been the inspiration for Belle Watling in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.

Belle Brezing opened her first brothel in a row house at what is now 314-318 North Upper Street, a block away from where my daughter lived during her time in Lexington.

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Belle is buried next to her stillborn infant born in 1882.

Belle_Brezing_in_a_feather_hat_(circa_1895)

University of Kentucky Libraries

Brezing’s  descent into prostitution is a sad one and not uncommon for a woman who had fallen on hard times in that period.  Seduced by an older man when she was only 12 and pregnant by 15, Mary Belle Cox’s mother died in 1876.  Belle was evicted and her developmentally disabled daughter Daisy May was placed with a neighbor. Belle became a prostitute, but provided money for Daisy May’s care for the rest of her life.

On December 24, 1879, Brezing began to work for Jennie Hill, a madam who ran a brothel out of the Mary Todd Lincoln house at 578 West Main St. Brezing worked there for two years until she had saved enough money to start her own house and assume the position of madam.

University of Kentucky Libraries: Special Collections Research Center

If you’d like to know more about Belle Brezing: 

One Scrappy Belle Chevy Chaser (May 31, 2012)

Belle’s Birthday Ball  Lexington History Museum (June 9, 2009)

Belle of the Brothel Kentucky Monthly (November 26, 2014)

New book tells sad, fascinating story of madam Belle Brezing  The Bluegrass and Beyond blog (October 7, 2014)

Miss Belle’s Mirror Finds Home at KHS  Kentucky Historical Society (September 29, 2014)

 

 

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Lexington: Belle Brezing’s Gravesite

  1. What a colorful character! That photo of her at eight made me think of how much a child she was still at twelve. I feel deep sadness for that little girl, yet gladness for the woman who triumphed with the hand fate dealt her. Thanks for the links. I only have time to follow one today, but I hope to come back another and learn more about her. Wasn’t she beautiful!

    Like

    1. She was a very wealthy woman who was known across the country, with an obit in the New York Times. Certainly not a conventional life and probably not the life she would have chosen, but, yes, she played the hand she was dealt quite skillfully. I hadn’t seen the photo of her as a young girl before–quite poignant.

      Liked by 1 person

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