Newspapers in New Orleans and other cities carried breathless accounts Rebecca Kruttschnitt (1889-1975) wedding in 1911 to English suitor Henry C. Woodhouse. The reports focused on the resplendent venue, the glamorous dresses worn by the bride and her maids, and the bountiful flowers that adorned the scene. They missed the most interesting event.
“The wedding reception,” Rebecca told her grandson Henry, “was enlivened by her youngest brother (John) who, having contrived not to name the guests he had invited, welcomed a bevy of New Orleans’s most notorious (and select) mesdames! Becky related that he quit the parental home not long afterwards.”
The prank occurred early in the storied career of the wacky John Kruttschnitt (1887-1982). John once fired his brother, mining magnate Julius Kruttschnitt, for failing to find the Lost Dutchman’s Mine, which no one else could find either. Among his other claims to fame, he stood and watched his unchocked plane, with no one aboard, fly off a runway and crash. His most notorious deed, though, may have been to seduce, with his mother’s help, a Polish countess who later sued him.
Notwithstanding the unintended guests, Englishman Henry C. Woodhouse, made quite a catch when he married the fashionable Miss Rebecca Demender Kruttschnitt, the only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Julius Kruttschnitt. The Kruttschnitts were not only wealthy — one of the “most prominent families” of Louisiana — but the beautiful Rebecca was a published illustrator who won commendation at various art exhibits, according to one newspaper account.
The Times-Picayune called Rebecca a “splendid type of American girl” who had lived much of her life abroad and in the great cities of the North and East. “She was very popular in the social circles in the cities of Europe and in the metropolitan centers of her native land.”
The couple married in the Charles Street home of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Paxton Blair, Rebecca’s uncle and aunt, in a room decorated with a profundity of palms and rare flowers that added “beauty and richness,” according to an account in The Call, a local newspaper. Monseigneur Lavalle of St. Louis Cathedral officiated the Roman Catholic ceremony. Rebecca’s mother was Jewish.
While Woodhouse waited in the bower, circled by a barrier of white satin ribbons tied in dainty love knots, “Miss Kruttschnitt entered with her father, who gave her away. She was lovely in a bridal dress of white satin with trimmings of exquisite old lace, an heirloom in the Kruttschnitt family. She wore a long veil of illusion, which was very becoming to her piquant French type of beauty, and carried an ivory and gold prayer book.”
Interestingly, Rebecca elected not to have bridesmaids. The Times-Picayune explained it this way: “No bridesmaids were chosen for the reason that Miss Kruttschnitt had so very many close friends that it would have been difficult for her to make her selection.” It’s too bad she didn’t ask her brother John for help selecting a bridesmaid.
Rebecca’s attendants wore suitably elegant dresses as well. Mrs. Julius Kruttschnitt wore a rich gown of silver and cloth of gold with chiffon finishings. Mrs. J. P. Blair wore a black-lace gown with colorful accents. It’s unclear what Rebecca’s aunt, Miss Alma Kruttschnitt, wore.
It was only appropriate that Rebecca married in New Orleans. Though her family was living in Chicago at the time, and she had met her husband-to-be during a trip to Santa Monica, she grew up in the Crescent City and returned often. The Blair house was big enough to provide guest accommodations for Rebecca’s family during their stay in New Orleans. They arrived via a private coach from Chicago.
The only attendant was best man Ralph J. Hope-Vere of England. He came in from the West Coast with Woodhouse on Wednesday. Only a few close friends attended as guests.
Woodhouse and his bride left for California after the wedding in a private Pullman Car, “The Constitution,” equipped with an elaborate wedding suite, kitchen, dining room, and library. They sailed from San Francisco to Hawaii, Japan, China, and the Philippines, intending to return through Europe. They expected to live on Woodhouse’s ranch in Klamath Falls, Ore. “Both are devoted to outdoor pleasures.”
Woodhouse, 11 years older than his wife, served in the English army as a member of Lord Roberts’ Light Horse in the South African war. Newspaper accounts had nice things to say about Rebecca’s mother. “Mrs. Kruttschnitt also belongs to one of the aristocratic older families of the state. As Miss Minna Koch she was a great belle here until her marriage and always has been noted as one of the New Orleans greatest beauties.”