Monday, July 12, 2021

The Infamous Everleigh Sisters

On Saturday, I had a fantastic visit at the historic cemeteries in Alexandria. I met David, the superintendent of Presbyterian Cemetery and suddenly I became the tourist instead of the tour guide!

There are 13 cemeteries on the 80+ acres and he took me to St. Paul’s to see the notorious Everleigh Sisters are buried there! That isn’t listed on any brochure, book, or even on Wikipedia that I’ve seen so without David, I would have never known!

Aida and Minna Simms are better known as Ada and Minna Everleigh or the Everleigh Sisters, notorious American madams. They operated a high-priced brothel known as the Everleigh Club in Chicago that was open from 1899-1911.

The sisters actually changed their last name to Everleigh because their grandmother had the habit of signing letters to them with "Everly Yours."

"Events that shaped Chicago," Chicago Tribune, April 1, 1997, 80 recalling the February 1, 1900 headline.

The sisters’ mother died when they were young, and the family lost much of their wealth during the Civil War. They both married but then divorced. To make ends meet, they opened a luxurious boardinghouse only to find out that the other boardinghouses in their district were actually brothels. Oops! But hey, they were business-minded and went on to run one of the most successful brothels in American history.

They’re both buried in St. Paul’s Cemetery in Alexandria.

Years ago, I read Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul (2008) by Karen Abbott, which goes into more details about the lives of the sisters. I may need to reread this again this summer.