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Mrs. Elizabeth Thomas Werlein (1885-1946)
Daughter of Henry H. and Marie L (Smith) Thomas.

1918 brief biographies. (Added Feb., 2011)

International Who's Who in Music - 1918

WERLEIN, Elizabeth I.:
Singer, patron: b. Bay City, Mich., d. Henry H. and Maria Louise (Smith) Thomas; ed. in Europe; stud. singing w. Antonio Baldelli and Jean de Reszke in Paris. Active patron of music, sec.-treas. New Orleands Philharmonic Soc., an organization of 2,000 mem. (largest in the Southern U.S.).
Address: 2228 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, La.

WERLEIN, Phillip 3rd.:
Music publisher; b. New Orleans, La., b. Jan. 5, 1878, s. of Philip and Bettey (Parham) W.; ed. Emery Coll., Georgia; Tulane Coll., New Orleans. After leaving college took charge of the Philip Werlein Co., music house and publishers of "Dixie" and other southern songs (owned 74 yrs. by same family); has conducted business since then; patron of music in all its forms, supporter of the French Opera of New Orleans. Address: 2228 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, La.

1846 news article. (Contributed by Jim Petrimoulx, Apr., 2009)

The Bay City Times - March 31, 1946 (Page 13)

Native Bay Cityan Still Making News In New Orleans,
Where She Went after 1904 Marriage Here

“A large and beautiful wedding took place at the home of the bride’s parents last evening” is the way which the wedding story of Miss Elizabeth Thomas, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Thomas of Bay City, and Philip Werlein of New Orleans, La. Began as it was published in the Bay City Times of Aug. 5, 1904.

The story was recalled in a feature story published in a recent edition of the New Orleans Item, and brings to the minds of longtime Bay Cityans one of the most vivid personalities of the pre-World War I young set of Bay City.

The New Orleans story was inspired by the fact that Mrs. Werlein is writing her memoirs and the Louisiana writer said the sparkling New Orleans society woman’s career “has been as crowded with exciting events as an old Pearl White serial” The story in part:

Engaged to a Russian prince, she jilted an English earl to marry (for love at first sight) the late Philip Werlein III.

Exchanged Cables

“The Earl cabled and asked her to wait until he got here from England – that he was coming on the next boat. But she cabled back that she was already married. “Philip actually cabled for me, and we weren’t married then, but we were a few months later” she said.

Among the experiences which Mrs. Werlein has had, the story said, included being one of the first three women in the country to go up in a balloon; she picked out all of the landing fields in Louisiana for the army in World War I; she shocked London as a girl by appearing in a “sports costume” that didn’t drag the ground, (almost an inch above the soles of her shoes.)

In addition Mrs. Werlein is personally spotlighted in Louisiana, having headed countless political, civic, cultural and business enterprises and has put a spectacular fight to restore and preserve New Orleans’ historic French Quarter Her name has appeared in “Who’s Who” for 15 years skipping a few when she simply “didn’t bother to fill out all the queries “ she nonchalantly explains. In the current edition, the mere listing of her chairmanships and accomplishments takes up more than a quarter of a column.

Native Bay Cityan

Mrs. Werlein is a native Bay Cityan and her father Henry H. Thomas, operated a dynamite factory here. She studied early in Bay City, later attending Liggett School in Detroit, and then studying voice at the Detroit Conservatory. As the Thomas wedding story points out, she had been studying voice in Europe for three years prior to her marriage. However her operatic ambitions gave way to romance.

While living in Paris she became engaged to a Russian prince, and visited his family in St. Petersburg. She still wears a heavy gold ring given her by Empress Eugenie, but it is so weighty that her fiancé had a chain guard ring made to hold it on her finger.

Transferring her affections to Viscount Charles Yorks Roystron, son of the and later successor to the title the daring Miss Thomas disturbed the gentleman however by such escapades as the balloon expedition, for he was afraid she would show her ankles in the shocking costume as she stepped on aboard.

Love at First Sight

Betrothed to the Englishman on her return to the U.S., New York papers blazoned the news of “another rich American girl marrying a title” the New Orleans writer avers. However while on an eastern shopping trip to buy her trousseau, the young Bay Cityan visited New Orleans and met Mr. Werlein, head of the publishing house which bore his name. “It was love at first sight and we both knew it” Mrs. Werlein summarized.

The wedding in Bay City was the outgrowth. For it, so it reads the Bay City story of slightly more than 41 years ago, the bride was gowned in an embroided white satin robe and long tulle veil with orange blossoms. She carried white orchids in an arm bouquet. It continues that later supper was served in a tent on the lawn of the home for the purpose after which Mr. and Mrs. Werlein left for a protracted trip ending in New Orleans where they established their home in October 1904. Both thereafter figured prominently in the development of New Orleans and all of Louisiana.

1946 Obituary. (Contributed by Jim Petrimoulx - Apr., 2009)

The Bay City Times - Sunday May 5, 1946 (Page 4)

Mrs. Elizabeth Werlein

Socialite Dies In New Orleans
Colorful Career Ends for Native Bay Cityan

Word has been received here of the death last week in New Orleans, Louisiana of Mrs. Elizabeth Werlein, native Bay Cityan, after an illness of many months. She was 59 years old.

Born Elizabeth Marie Thomas in 1887, she was the daughter of Henry H. Thomas, owner of dynamite factories and Mrs. Thomas. As a young girl her engagement to a Russian prince and an English earl and her romantic marriage to <>Philip Werlein III were fables among the international social set. After going with her husband to New Orleans, Mrs. Werlein took an active part in civic affairs, and was also prominent for her political and social leadership.

Miss Thomas was educated in the Bay City grade schools, attended the Liggett School in Detroit and studied singing at the conservatory there. When 18 she went to Paris to study opera, and there she became engaged to a Russian prince. Later she was betrothed to an English earl.

She was one of the first women to make a balloon ascent, and later was credited with being the first woman to go up in an airplane. She returned to the United States, met Werlein, and broke her previous engagement to marry the Englishman.

Surviving her are a son, Philip Werlein IV ; three daughters, Mrs. Donald Smith and Mrs. John Hewlett of New York City and Mrs. Hodding Carter, wife of Greenville, Miss. Author and publisher and five grandchildren. Also surviving is a sister, Mrs. Ida Belle Thomas VonBuelow, formerly of California, now of Frankfurt, Germany.

Husband, Philip Werlein, III. (Added Apr., 2009)

One Thousand American Men of Mark of To-day. (1916)

PHILIP WERLEIN, Merchant and Insurance Official. He was born Jan. 5, 1878, in New Orleans, La. He was educated at Dyer's Prepatory School, Tulane College, New Orleans, La.; Emory College, Oxford, Ga.; and Tulane University. He is president of Philip Werlein, Limited Incorporated, piano merchants; and director of the Mechanics and Traders' Insurance Company. He served three terms as president of the New Orleans Progressive Union, now the Association of Commerce; and one term as president of the National Association of Piano Merchants. He has been vice-chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee. He is a member of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity; and of the Boston, Pickwick and Country Clubs.

Daughter, Betty B. (Added Jun., 2011)

Lives of MIssissippi Authors, 1817-1967.

CARTER, BETTY BURNHILDE WERLEIN (MRS. W.HODDING, II 1910 -- Born in New Orleans on 19 July 1910 to Philip and Elizabeth Thomas Werlein. Betty Brunhilde Werlein received her B.A. from Newcomb College in 1931. In that year she married William Hodding Carter, II (q.v.) on 14 October. Mrs. Carter has worked for the Daily Courier (Hammond, Louisiana, 1932-36, the Delta Star (Geenville, Mississippi, 1936-38), and the Office of War Information (1942-45). A freelance writer, she has co-authored various historical works with her husband and lives in Felicians in Greenville, Mississippi, 38701. WWSS 15; F.

and Carter, Hodding. Doomed Road of Empire: The Spanish Trail of Conquest. New York: McGraw Hill, 1963.
and Carter, Hodding. So Great a Good; A History of the Episcopal Church in Louisiana and of Christ Church Cathedral, 1805-1955. Sewanee, Tennessee: University Press, 1955.

Additional Notes:

    Biography of Henry H. Thomas, by Jim Petrimoulx.

  • Elizabeth's father, Henry H. Thomas, owned the Ajax Dynamite Works located in Kawkawlin, Bay Co., Mich. Henry was married twice, his first being to Maria Smith on May 12, 1881, who was Elizabeth's mother. From this marriage there were three children, Elizabeth, James and Henry R.. Her father's second marriage was to Delia Stewart, in this marriage one child was born, Ida Belle.

    1908 - Michigan Marriages: Bay City.

  • Date: August 2, 1908.
  • Groom: Philip Werlein, of New Orleans, b. 1878, son of Philip Werlein and Bettie Parham.
  • Bride: Elizabeth Thomas, of Bay city, b. 1885, daughter of Henry H. Thomas and Marie L. Smith.
  • Official: Halsey Werlein J., Rector.
  • Witnesses: J. A. Griffin, of New York and John P. Werlein, of New Orleans.
Related Pages/Notes

Elizabeth (Thomas) Werlein

Elizabeth (right)

{1890s: Werlein Store}

Cable St., New Orleans

Related Pages:
{Map 1867, Great Lakes}
Theatre News
Thomas, Henry H. father
People Referenced
Baldelli, Antonio
Carter, Wm. Hodding II (s-inlaw)
de Reszke, Jean
Eugenie, Empress
Hewlett, John Mrs. (dau.)
Parham, Betty W. (m-inlaw)
Roystron, Charles Yorks
Smith, Donald Mrs. (dau.)
Smith, Maria L. (mother)
Steward, Delia (s-mother)
Thomas, Henry H. (father)
Thomas, Henry R. (bro)
Thomas, Idabell (s-sister)
Thomas, James (bro)
VonBuelow, Thomas Mrs. (dau.)
Werlein, Betty B. (dau)
Werlein, Elizabeth I. (subject)
...nee Thomas
Werlein, Philip II (f-inlaw)
Werlein, Philip III (husband)
Werlein, Philip IV (son)
Subjects Referenced
Bay City, MI
- Ajax Dynamite Works
Detroit, MI
- Detroit Converatory
- Liggett School
Emery College, GA
English earl
Frankfurt, Germany
Greenville, MS
Kawkawlin, MI
New Orleans, LA
- French Opera
- New Orleans Item
- Philharmonic Society
- Philip Werlein Co.
- Tulane College
New York, NY
Paris, France
Russian prince
St. Petersburg, Russia
World War I
Related Internet Sources
[-] Elizabeth Werlein's role preserving the Vieux Carre in New Orleans.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.