The Osgood Wives

Irene Osgood
Irene Osgood

IRENE OSGOOD

Nonie Irene de Belote married John Osgood, who her friends called Cleve, in 1877. He was ten years older but he was, of course, a multi-millionaire. Irene was born on a plantation in Virginia, even though she also claimed on occasion that she was born in England.  There was no record of her home plantation or of a family name of Belote in England during that period.

One of her passports showed that she was born in 1861. She later changed her birthdate to 1866, then 1869, then 1875.  She was a young socialite writer of purple prose. John created a publishing company to publish her books and those of her friends. She prided herself on being an author of poetry and a novel named Shadow of Desire. Her novel was reviewed by the New York Times and they concluded that, “The book is as unwholesome as any they have had the bad fortune to read.”

She was high-spirited and after refusing to move to the “Wilds of Colorado”, she consented to be housed in the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs.  The Hotel was one of the finest anywhere and she was relatively satisfied.  However, the Hotel thought differently and she was invited to leave the hotel bar for being “rowdy and obnoxious”.

She did not let her marriage interfere with her lifestyle, which involved traveling in Europe with her author friends.  At about the time that Cleve began planning the construction for their mansion, Irene chose to run off with a Captain Charles Harvey.  John circulated the story that she had been killed by a runaway horse in Central Park in New York.  They divorced in 1899 and had no children.

Alma Osgood
Alma Osgood

ALMA OSGOOD (Lady Bountiful):

Alma Regina Shelgrem originally met John at the court of King Leopold of Belgium.  While it is reputed that Alma was Swedish countess, there is no historical evidence to back this up.  He was a perfect gentleman during the meeting and Alma remembered him kindly.  When they met again, he showed an interest in Alma and they married in 1899, three months after his divorce from Irene.  After relocating to Colorado, they both worked on the design of his mansion and the town of Redstone. Alma was in her late 20’s at the time and John was 48.

They were very proud of the finished mansion and no expenses were spared. They entertained many business associates such as John D. Rockefeller and J. Pierpont Morgan, as well as King Leopold of Belgium, and President Teddy Roosevelt.

John and Alma traveled the world gathering furnishings and treasures to furnish the new mansion.  It was ornate and lovely, and their guests were suitably impressed.  They moved in at the completion of the manor in 1902.

Alma was genuinely concerned about the welfare of the people in Redstone. She purchased the latest fashions to have in the Company Store and was very influential in the curriculum at the school. At Christmas she had the children in town write a letter to Santa Claus to ask for one gift, and then they travelled to Chicago to purchase an item for each child. They received the gift at the Christmas Party at the Redstone Inn on December 24, where they served them Jell-O as a dessert. For her generosity, she was proudly nick-named Lady Bountiful by the townspeople.

When the World War I broke out, Alma was asked by a French Hospital Organization to help with the war effort so she went to France.  John divorced her for desertion in 1920.  They had no children.

Lucille Osgood
Lucille Osgood

LUCILLE OSGOOD:

Lucille Reid met Cleve in his travels and they were married in 1920.  She came from Oakland, California and was 25 years old when they married.  John was in his 70s by then and his businesses were not what they once were, but he still had a great deal of money.

They hired 165 workmen to repair and refurbish the castle and the grounds.  They also worked on the Inn and the town.  By 1925, everything was close to its original condition.

John’s health was deteriorating, and it turned out that he was gravely ill with cancer.  He died in January of 1926 in the bedroom of the castle that he loved, at the age of 75.  Lucille continued to run his many business interests.  She inherited a great deal of property and several million dollars in cash. She remained in Cleveholm for several years, winding down the businesses and raising prize-winning lettuce and potatoes.  She married Huntly McDonald, who proceeded to invest most of her fortune in the stock market just in time for the crash of 1929.  They tried to keep Redstone alive as a tourist resort but they were in the middle of the Great Depression by then, and many of the cottages were torn down for lumber or to get them off of the tax rolls. Lucille sold Cleveholm Manor in 1940.

John and Lucille had no children, and Lucille claimed that he never wanted them.  Lucille was instructed to burn all of John’s personal papers after his death.