September 15, 2004
Margaret Preston Draper was the daughter of General William Franklin Draper and Susan Preston
Draper. The general was the son of George and Hannah Thwing Draper. George joined the Hopedale
Community in 1853. His brother Ebenezer had been with the Community since its founding in 1841-2.
Those who became The Drapers in Hopedale were all descendants of George and Hannah. In
addition to the general, their children who survived to adulthood were Frances Eudora, Hannah
Thwing, George Albert and Eben Sumner.
The marriage of William and Susan was probably the only case of a Yankee general marrying the
daughter of a Confederate general. Susan came from a very prominent Kentucky family. Her father
had been a member of Congress and ambassador to Spain. When the war started he returned to
Kentucky and served as a general in the army for a while before becoming the Confederacy's
ambassador to Mexico. Susan's mother's family, the Wickliffes, had a plantation in the Lexington area,
and were the largest slaveholders in Kentucky. Susan's sister married George Albert Draper.
Margaret Preston Draper
Beautiful Boston Princess Fights to Keep Her Title
Boston Sunday Post
November 23, 1924
By C. E. Scott
Did Boncampagni “Curse” Bring Sad End to Margaret Draper’s Love Story?
The “evil eye” and family skeletons—
Has Princess Boncompagni, formerly Miss Margaret Draper of Hopedale, suffered from the curse that
is said to have followed the noble Italian family since the 17th century?
She has left her princely husband. Why, no one knows. But the great romance of Margaret Draper,
favored daughter of fortune, is crushed.
Princess Boncompagni, who is fighting to retain her title, is now in Boston.
Eight years ago, when little Miss Margaret Draper of Hopedale married the illustrious Prince Andrea
Boncompagni, untold and unfamed Cinderellas sighed in envy.
For “the girl who always got what she wanted” had at last got what she wanted most.
Think of having everything you wanted! Of wanting glorious gowns and hats, and having them! Of
saying, “I’ll wear a nice new rope of pearls at my next party”—and having it come true! Of wanting a
prince for a husband—and getting him! And a hero, to boot!
Margaret Draper’s story would be perfect in its pretty romance if it ended where all good romances do,
when written in books. But, as is often the case in life, the story begins romantically and finds its
sequel in the fields of grim realism.
For the Boncompagnis have family skeletons. Margaret Draper, in her high role of princess, has, of
course, heard them rattling in their various closets.
And yet, in the grand glitter of Roman society, what is a skeleton, more or less? No doubt she
shrugged at the thought these stark occupants of hidden nooks in her princely husband’s palace. The
past is past…And what happiness the present held! What happiness in the future!
Unfortunately, Princess Boncompagni (nee Draper) was overly optimistic in her girlish enthusiasm.
Gorgeous Debut Dazzled Washington
What a gorgeous girlhood and debut she had! A few years before Margaret’s marriage her father, the
late General William F. Draper, multi-millionaire Hopedale cotton mill owner and diplomat, died,
leaving half his huge wealth to her. Her uncle was the late Governor Eben S. Draper. Her family
summered in Manchester-by-the Sea.
She was the most notable debutante of her year in Washington. She succeeded Helen Taft, daughter
of the president, who had been the outstanding bud of the previous season.
At Margaret’s debut the entire Washington social world was present – ambassadors, rear admirals
and foreign ministers, and all sorts of titles and whatnot. Many a foreign nobleman was there who
could not honestly have denied that he hoped to bestow his title upon General Draper’s beautiful
Around her nick was a string of pearls valued at $30,000. She was modestly attired, you see, for her
first bow to the world.
More luxuriously, some months later at the marvelous Louis XV ball given by her mother at the capital,
Margaret was the bell of the ball beyond all dispute.
Wore World’s Richest Pearls
That night she wore the most valuable pearl necklace in the world.
She was dressed as a young woman of the Court of Louie Quinze, and she wore that famous necklace
whose separate jewels have come from the four corners of the globe. The first jewel in the necklace
was given to her by the Dowager Queen Margarita of Italy, when her father had been the American
ambassador. Queen Margarita had been Margaret Draper’s godmother.
And among these people at the ball – and whom Margaret was said to have outshone – were the
stunning Mrs. Joseph Leiter, Mrs. Peter Goelet Gerry (who has been having so much trouble lately –
trouble blamed by some on the black Youssoupoff, Helen and Robert Taft, and so forth.
If, in those days, a titled foreigner had come to you and said,
“Look here, I want to marry an American girl who’s rich, and beautiful and nice,” you’d have replied,
“Well, you might try Miss Draper. She’s all of that. But you’ll find her pretty particular when it comes to
the husband business; and anyway, they say she’s not considering anything less than a prince.”
Social Arbiter at 18
At 18, Miss Draper was the social arbiter of Washington, which was quite a distinction! And naturally
she was the most talked about maid in the entire capital.
Well, men came and men went. She was reported engaged to Count de la Tour d’Auvergne, and there
was high old excitement when the news came out; but it must have been something of a canard, for
nothing more was heard of it. The Prince Ludovico of Rome was made famous as “Margaret’s
fiancé.” He’d known her as a little girl, and all in all it looked like a possible alliance. But it came to
nothing, for the prince married someone else.
It must have been great fun to Margaret Draper to read of her numerous engagements.
But at last, in war time –
He came. He was a prince and hero; and Margaret Draper was feverishly interested in war-time
activities. Also, she knew him well. He came wounded and unfit for further service at the front.
Rumor spread that Prince Boncompagni was the luckiest man of earth.
Washington was interested. It was something to talk about, anyway.
Then Margaret admitted it was so. Washington felt the shock then. Somehow the city had become
accustomed to having Miss Draper engaged and disengaged by the tongue of gossip. More than one
young man’s heart was badly bent.
Married by Cardinal Gibbons
Because of the prominence of the two families and the affiliations of the Boncompagnis in Rome, they
were married by Cardinal Gibbons.
For about six years, then, all seemed to go smoothly, Then stories of rupture got about. They were well
founded. Another international romance had gone to pot.
And now, back in Boston, Margaret Draper is fighting to retain her title of Princess Boncompagni. The
pretty-looking title is all that is left of her dream-romance with a prince.
She wanted the prince. She got him. Now she no longer wants him – and no longer has him.
But she wants the title! Will she be able to keep it in spite of Boncompagni’s efforts to wrest it from
Well, that's not the whole article, but probably as much as most of you have time to read right now. If
you'd like to read the rest of the story, including sections titled Family Curse, Hanged Himself, Rome
Whispers, Ghostly Visitor Haunts Castle and The Evil Eye, go to
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