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Mary Bell Brezing (Cox)

Also Known As: "Belle McMeekin", "Belle Breezing", ""Madame" Belle Brezing", "Mrs. James C. Kenney"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Lexington, Fayette , Kentucky, United States
Death: Died in Lexington, Lexington-Fayette , Kentucky, United States
Cause of death: Uterine cancer
Place of Burial: Lexington, Lexington-Fayette , Kentucky, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Sarah Anne McMeekin
Wife of James C. Kenney
Partner of John Andrew Cook and William "Billy" Mabon
Mother of Daisy May Kenney
Sister of Hester Norton

Occupation: Keeper - House of Ill Fame
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Belle Brezing

Belle Brezing (June 16, 1860 – August 11, 1940) was a nationally known brothel madam in Lexington, Kentucky at the end of the 19th century and into the beginning of the 20th.

Her luxuriant salon was famed for its influential patrons and for being "the most orderly of disorderly houses".

"Belle Brezing was the most successful madam this town ever had. The bed she (and others) slept in for 40 years was bought at the 1894 Exposition in San Francisco and was later sold for a whopping $30,000 at auction simply because it was hers. It is slept in every night in a private home in Lexington and has inspired the Downtown Lexington Corp. to run its first-ever bed race downtown Thursday afternoon in her honor." (1)

Belle is said to be the prototype for "Belle Watling" in Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind." Her first employer was Jennie Hill, whose brothel was located in the same house that was the childhood home of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.

A long term morphine addict with a legal prescription, she died August 11, 1940 of advanced uterine cancer, at the age of 80. Her fame was still wide-spread; her obituary appeared in Time magazine.

On the side of her monument facing her grave in Calvary Cemetery, Lexington, Kentucky (plot next to her mother's): "Blessed are the Pure in Heart." 

References

  1. Madam Belle Brezing, by Buddy Thompson (Buggy Whip Press, 1983).

Sources (see timeline tab for details)

  1. The Book on belle Published: April 9, 2008 in the Lexington Kentucky Herald-Leader
  2. Belle Brezing: a short biography of Lexington's Most Famous Lady
  3. 1880 - US Federal Census.
  4. 1900 - US Federal Census..
  5. 1910 - US Federal Census. Occupation: Keeper - House of Ill Fame.
  6. 1920 - US Federal Census.
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Belle Brezing's Timeline

1860
June 19, 1860
Lexington, Fayette , Kentucky, United States
1876
March 14, 1876
Age 15
Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky, United States
1940
August 11, 1940
Age 80
Lexington, Lexington-Fayette , Kentucky, United States