Vielé, Teresa Griffin, 1831 or 1832-1906

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Teresa Griffin Vielé lived in New York City in the 1870s. She was married to General Egbert L. Vielé‚ with whom she had five children: Kathlyn, Herman, Teresa, Egbert and Emily. Around the year 1870, Teresa and Egbert Vielé‚ sued each other for divorce on almost identical grounds: adultery, insanity, and cruelty.

Mrs. Vielé was accused of having an affair with General W.W. Averill, and Mr. Viel with Miss Julia Dana. The suits also involved a custody battle for their five children. Because of the Vielés’ high social standing and the relative rarity of divorce the 19th century, the case was widely publicized in the New York papers.In June 1871, Teresa Vielé‚ won custody of her two youngest children only to have that court order postponed until October. On October 2, 1871, the divorce trial resumed but soon afterwards the Vielés withdrew their mutual charges and the children were divided among them.

Mrs. Vielé seems to have been very involved socially, as were many 19th century, upper-middle class women. She was a member of the American Ladies Aid Association for Cuban Women and Children which raised money and supplies for victims of the Cuban revolution. As a participant in the Southern Relief Association, Teresa Vielé was a member of the Committee on Public Places of Amusement. She also apparently had political interest in Mr. George Francis Train, a candidate in the 1872 presidential election. George Train was a member of the Train Ligue which campaigned on the promise of an equal distribution of political power for all women, men, and ethnicities and supported women’s suffrage.

Perhaps documentation of her divorce drama appealed to Mrs. Vielé’s literary instincts. Hers was a creative family. She had authored Following the drum: a glimpse of frontier life (1858), based on her experiences as a military spouse during her husband’s tour in the American Southwest and fighting in the Mexican War. Mr. Vielé (1825–1902) published Hand-book for active service; containing practical instructions in campaign duties (1861). Their youngest son, Egbert Jr., accompanied his mother to France after the divorce and later changed his name to Francis Vielé-Griffin (1864–1937), gaining renown as a French symbolist poet. Older son Herman Knickerbocker Vielé (1856–1908) achieved fame as a novelist, playwright, and artist in New York, and was best known for Last of the Knickerbockers a Comedy Romance (1901). Teresa Vielé died in Paris in 1906 and was buried in Père-Lachaise Cemetery.

Viele, Teresa Griffin. Following the drum : a glimpse of frontier life. Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 1984. Biographical information also derived from material in the collection.

From the guide to the Teresa Vielé scrapbooks, 1870–1871, (University of Delaware Library - Special Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Teresa Vielé scrapbooks, 1870–1871 University of Delaware Library - Special Collections
creatorOf Willis, Nathaniel Parker, 1806-1867. N.P. Willis letters, poems, and carte-de-visite, 1831-1864. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
creatorOf Viele, Egbert L. (Egbert Ludovickus), 1825-1902. Order : Savannah River, Ga., 1863 Apr. 12. Rosenbach Museum & Library
creatorOf Willis, Nathaniel Parker, 1806-1867. Papers of Nathaniel Parker Willis, 1835-1866. University of Virginia. Library
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Place Name Admin Code Country


Birth 1831

Death 1906



Ark ID: w6qn8gtg

SNAC ID: 5628928