13 January 2012

Heroine of an International Romance Which Dwindled in Mystery

When we last left the life of Ilah Dunlap (whose final resting place is the Dunlap Mausoleum), she had just inherited the entire estate of her late husband, Col. Leonidas A. Jordan. She also received one fifth of her father's estate upon his death in 1902.

As you might imagine, young Ilah seemed to crave more glitz, glamour, and societal functions than what was available in the little city of Macon, Georgia. As a result, she sometimes sojourned to Washington, D.C. and hobnobbed among the in-crowd there. And there is where she met Senor Don Luis F. Corea, the Nicaraguan minister to the United States.  The couple became engaged to be married in 1904.

After the announcement, all heck broke loose with the receipt of some letters that attempted to discredit Senor Corea.  Here is a sample of headlines that plastered the front pages of newspapers across the United States:


"Nicaraguan Minister Alleged to Have a Strain of Dark Blood in Veins."

"Sensational Disclosure May Stop Marriage With Rich Southern Widow."

Though it was stated by the Dunlap family over and over that they did not believe the rumors ("which questioned Minister Corea's moral and business standing, his social position and his being white") that were circulated by form of anonymous letters, the wedding was initially postponed. Some reports state the rumors were investigated and disproved to the satisfaction of Ilah, and that she intended to go ahead with the wedding, but that it was Minister Corea that wished to fully and publicly clear his name prior to the nuptials. Either way, by the spring of 1905, the engagement was officially broken and the wedding off. The true reason why is a mystery. "Jilted By Pretty Rich Widow" was the new headline.

Here is the explanation in print via the 28 April 1905 Kansas City Star (Missouri): "Mrs. Jordan's family has made no statement, hoping the matter would die out. It is said that the sensational stories published regarding Senor Corea's race, while believed to be utterly untrue, caused a notoriety painful to Mrs. Jordan and her family." The 6 May 1905 Denver Post (Colorado) put it this way: "Mrs. Jordan refused to credit these rumors, but it is said the notoriety caused her so much annoyance that she decided it would be wise to call off the engagement."

So does Ilah Dunlap Jordan, one of the most beautiful women in the South, ever find love again? Stay tuned!

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