Anita Irving Wood (1896-1941), Ancestor No. 13

Well, now I’ve hit that point – the situation this project was created to overcome.  I’m on a very exciting genealogical roll, and I’d just as soon bag the post and keep moving on the research. But it’s more important to get something on the page today. I guess.

So – quick ‘n dirty.  (At least my version of quick ‘n dirty.)

Anita Irving Wood was born in New York City on April 3, 1896. Her parents were J. Irving Wood (my great-great-grandmother’s little brother) and Perlina Kellogg Hendricks, the second of the two concert pianists in my dad’s family tree. (Coincidentally, the two pianists are in the same branch of the family. Perlina’s husband Irving was the first cousin (once removed) of Irwin E. Hassell – Ancestor No. 8.)  Irving and Perlina had three daughters, Anita being the eldest. Irving then decided to leave the family and, after about 1918 or so, effectively vanished off the face of the Earth. Irving’s mother, the girls’ grandmother, acknowledging her son’s scoundrelish nature, provided for the girls in her will.

On the brighter side, Anita always seemed to me like she was a total Auntie Mame character, whether she actually was or not.  My reasoning:

1. She did interesting things in a very interesting way.  This from 1921, a column in the Kingston (NY) paper:

WOOD, Anita-HENDRICKS Written in the clouds - Freeman 23 Aug 1921

I think she had a impulsive first marriage. It seems to have happened in connection with an Atlantic crossing – didn’t they all?? – and involved a man named Jackson Chesterfield Hines.  She then married a man named J. Rodliffe Chace, who died about one year later.

2. She was big into fashion, though I haven’t quite determined what it was she did in the industry. She was described as “an American commissaire in Paris” – and was part of something called The Fashion Group that was, in the 1933 New York Times clipping I found, urging the industry toward more standardization, presumably to do with sizes.

3. She knew fabulous people. She sat for legendary photographer Edward Steichen on several occasions.

Anita Wood Chace 1925 Steichen 1    Anita Wood Chace 1925 Steichen 2           WOOD, Anita by Steichen c1930

And 4. The capper, from the mid-1930s until the time of the 1940 census, she lived at Beekman Place, just like Auntie Mame – and about the same time.

Sadly, Anita fell ill and retired to “Bee Hill”, her sister and brother-in-law’s house in Williamstown, Massachusetts. She died there in September 1941 at age 44. One descendant of another of Anita’s sisters said she took her own life when her illness proved unbearable.


  1. Anita Wood Chase was my grandmother’s sister. Her name was Helen I think… I always called her Grammie They had another sister Madeleine. My grandmother married Jerome T Atkinson. My mother’s name was Judith Ann Atkinson. Her brother Tom Atkinson has done the family tree

  2. My mother was Patricia Anne (Judy) Atkinson. This is a story from my grandmother (Helen) Anita Irving Wood was in Paris with Mother Pearl. She used to being Helen silk undergarmentsfrom Paris. Anita and Mother Pearl fled from France in one of the last passenger ships fearing the German occupation. Anita went up to Madeline’s farm. She was very depressed because of the end of her fashion career. She died when she put her head in a gas oven……. I bet you corresponded with my cousin Kimberly Nylander. She is the family historian and archivist of photos and letters.

    • Hello Adrienne – How nice to hear from you. Yes, I was in contact with Kim for awhile there – 10 years ago, it looks like, and her name was Herrera then. Anyway, that’s a new Anita story to me – sad. She seems like such an interesting character.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s