In 1901, North Carolina songbird Mary Lily
Kenan became the third wife of Standard
Oil/Florida real estate millionaire
Henry M. Flagler
-- she was 34, and he was 71. In 1913, after
Flagler died following a fall at their
palatial estate, Mary Lily Kenan Flagler
became the wealthiest woman in the U.S.,
with an estimated fortune of almost $100
Three years later, Kenan married an old college sweetheart, lawyer Robert Worth Bingham -- who happened to be deep in debt. Although he had signed a prenuptial agreement giving up all claims to Mrs. Flagler's fortune, she was very generous with her new husband, giving him a trunk filled with $1 million and paying off his debts.
Shortly after their marriage, however, Bingham began to spend considerable time away from home, coinciding with his engagement of a physician to treat Mary Lily for heart trouble with injections of cocaine and morphine. After Mary Lily was found dead in her bathtub at age 50, scarcely a year after her marriage to Bingham, Bingham showed up with a signed codicil to her will giving him $5 million.
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