The Princesses Laura and Helena
Alexander MacDonald left most of his vast fortune to be shared equally between his two granddaughters. Helena and Laura were just 16 and 17 years old when Alexander died. The estate was worth roughly $15-million dollars and made the two young women two of the wealthiest women of their day. Their father, Edmund Stallo, who was entrusted to keep it for the girls until they reached legal age, oversaw the estate.
Though both girls had made plans to marry successful young men from the Cincinnati Society roster, they were convinced that two such wealthy beautiful young women could make better matches by striking out for Europe and seeking royalty.
Miss Helena married Prince Murat of France, a nobleman and nephew of one of Napolean’s former Marshals. They had one daughter who they predictably named Laura. Her sister, Miss Laura, married Prince Rosspiglioisi of Italy. The first few years were happy and they had two daughters, Francesca and Camilla.
Unfortunately, their financial situation worsened when both girls realized that her inheritance had been badly managed by their father, Edmund Stallo. Stallo had invested in several bad schemes, including a failed attempt at a Gulf States railway. As a result, the large fortune Alexander had provided dwindled to almost nothing. Both of the “princes” divorced the girls not long after learning that they no longer had access to money. Helena died of cancer at the age of 38 mostly destitute. Laura moved to New York where she had to work to support her family and while she lived comfortably, the family could no longer afford keep the Dalvay property.