William F. 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,
(Colburn), Hannah Thwing, (Osgood), 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 began, 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 among the largest slaveholders in Kentucky. Susan's sister,
Jessie, married the general's brother, George Albert Draper.
she's Madame Boncompagni. There was a prenuptial agreement that stated that she
wouldn't keep the title if the marriage didn't last at least ten years. It didn't, and as the
headline below states, she fought to keep the title. Evidently she kept it until she
renounced her Italian citizenship, as mentioned in clippings from 1938 and 1940, which
can be found near the bottom of this page. Both articles use the title, "Princess," but in
later years she was referred to as Madame Boncompagni.
Beautiful Boston Princess Fights to Keep Her Title
Boston Sunday Post
November 23, 1924
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.
By C. E. Scott
Eight years ago, when little Miss Margaret Draper of Hopedale married the illustrious
Prince Andrea Boncompagne, 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
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
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
At Margaret's debut the entire Washington social world was present - ambassadors,
rear admirals and foreign ministers, and all sorts of titles and what-not. Many a foreign
nobleman was there who could not honestly have denied that he hoped to bestow his
title upon General Draper's beautiful daughter.
Around her neck 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. [An accompanying
article mentions that her mother had a pearl necklace worth $500,000, which must have
been the one she wore at the Louis XV ball.]
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
"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
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
She wanted the prince. She got him. Now she no longer wants him - and no longer
But she wants the title! Will she be able to keep it in spite of Boncompagne's efforts to
wrest it from her?
It seems that there has been a "family curse" hanging over the Boncompagnis. The
"curse" came into being when Gregory Boncompagni married Ippolita Ludovisi, sister of
the last Prince of Piombino, in 1680.
She was a very beautiful lady, and was engaged to be married to a distant cousin of
hers when Gregory, whose family was as old and illustrious as that of Ludovisi, but
dreadfully poor, decided that he wanted her himself.
She refused him. Gregory, therefore, concocted a plot. He persuaded the girl that her
lover was unfaithful to her. In despair, she announced her intention of entering a
convent and giving her wealth to the Church; but this did not suit Gregory at all.
So one night he carried her off from her ancestral castle with the connivance of a
servant. Her honor compromised, the girl was forced to marry Gregory.
In the meantime, her cousin, hearing of the abduction, hanged himself in his mother's
The mother cursed the Boncompagnis and prophesied that they would never be able
to hold any wealth in their hands - a prophecy which has been strangely fulfilled,
because ever since that time the family has been struggling against financial difficulties,
culminating in that terrible crash of some 40 years ago which caused the ruin of so
many noble Roman families, the Borgheses among others, and led to the sale of the
famous Borghese villa to the Italian government, with all its artistic treasures.
Prince Andrea was the grandson of Princess Agnese Gorghese, the only surviving
child of that lovely and holy Lady Gwendolen Talbot, daughter of the Earl of
Shrewsbury, who was called "The Angel of Rome."
She died in a mysterious manner, together with four of her five children in Rome in
1840. Since she succumbed after a few hours' illness, many Romans whispered that
she had been poisoned, with her children, by her mother-in-law, the old and imperious
Of course, this was atrocious calumny, but diphtheria was not so well known as it is
today, so that when the disease swept into the Borghese Palace it is no wonder that it
took so many victims.
One child survived, the Princess Agnese, and it is from her that all the present
Boncompagnis are descended.
The old palace of the family (which no longer exists as such, having been converted
into a business building) is a beautiful pile, but its artistic treasures have mostly been
sold and are dispersed all over the world today.
Old Prince Boncompagni, the grandfather of Prince Andrea, lost almost every cent he
possessed in the crash.
Ghostly Visitor Haunts Castle?
They said that his palace has a ghost, which was dreaded by all the Boncompagnis -
and might be dreaded by them now, if they still lived in it. Its appearance was supposed
to be the forewarner of some terrible calamity.
The ghost was said to be the spirit of the wife of the first Duke of Zagarola, a nephew of
Alessandro Ludovisi, who was elected Pope under the name of Gregory XV, in 1621.
One of the Duke's sergeants denounced the wife as unfaithful and the Duke, believing,
strangled her. She was supposed to haunt the family and to appear before their eyes
laughing sarcastically whenever anything horrible was to happen to them.
The last to see her, according to the tale in Rome, was the father of the present Prince
of Piombino, Don Ugo Boncompagni. He was married twice, first to the Marchesa Patrizi
and then to Donna Laura Altieri, one of the most beautiful and charming women of her
They both died quite young, Donna Laura succumbing to an attack of diphtheria
caught at the bedside of her stepchildren, whom she had been nursing with devotion
"The Evil Eye"
Hers was a beautiful nature, and she is remembered to this day with affection and
emotion in Rome. Twice Don Ugo saw the ghost of his murdered ancestress. He saw it
just before the death of his Marchesa. He saw it again within a few hours of Donna
And Don Ugo was so impressed by the apparition that he entered Holy Orders, giving
up his titles and what was left of the family fortune in his possession to his eldest son,
Prince Francesco. Today Don Ugo is a Monsignore in attendance on the Pope, and a
very high official in Roman hierarchy.
Family curse or not, the Boncompagnis have been neither lucky nor prosperous.
Certainly they justify the Italian saying which will have it that they are cursed with the evil
eye - the famous Jettatura, which wins awe in Rome and Naples.
Click here to read about the princess's attempt to end the Draper family feud. And here
to see her at a costume ball in Washington. Click here to see the legal paper by which
Margaret donated her parents' estate to be used as the site for General Draper High
School. Here are some newspaper clippings about the princess, from her wedding in
1916, through 1925. To read a little about the prince's second wife, click here.
Pictures on Digital Treasures Margaret as a baby adult
Draper Tombs, Hopedale Village Cemetery Draper Menu HOME
Prince Andrea Bongompagni
William F. (Bill) Draper, on right.
Birth: Mar. 18, 1891
Death: Aug. 28, 1974
District of Columbia
District Of Columbia, USA
Margaret Draper Boncompagni
Services will be held at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow in St. Matthew's Cathederal, Washington,D.
C., for Margaret Draper Boncompagni, niece of former Massachusetts Gov. Eben S.
Madame Boncompagni, 83, died Wednesday at her home at 4732 Van Ness st.,
Born in Boston, she was educated at St. Timothy's School in Catonsville, Md, and made
her debut in Washington and Boston in 1909.
She married Prince Andrea Boncompagni of Italy in 1916. The marriage ended in
divorce six years later.
A generous donor to various charities, Madam Boncompagni also belonged to many
social clubs in the United States and Europe.
She was a member of the Chevy Chase Club and the Sulgrave Club of Maryland, the
Colony Club of New York, the Chilton Club of Boston and the Colonial Dames of
America. She was also a well-known member of the American colony in Paris.
The French government awarded her the Declaration of Chevalier of the Legion of
Honor and she was later promoted to Legion officer.
Before taking up permanent residence in Washngton she sold her property in
Hopedale, Mass., previoulsy owned by her father, Gen. William Franklin Draper,
president for many years of the Draper Corporation in Hopedale.
Madame Boncompagni leaves six nephews and five nieces. Burial will be in the
Hopedale Cemetery. (See Draper mausoleums at Hopedale Village Cemetery.)
Boston Globe; Aug 29, 1974
Hopedale Village Cemetery