In Civil War Columbia, South Carolina, no women were more gossiped about than Amelia Feaster and her teenage daughter, Marie Boozer. The Philadelphia-born Feaster, a widow three times before her thirty-first birthday, aided the Union war effort from her home, while Marie became infamous for her beauty and vanity. For over a century, scandalous tales of these women have been published across the nation, linking them to rich and powerful men both at home and abroad. Historian Tom Elmore sorts through the many myths and legends—involving such things as adultery, decapitation and the Russian tsar’s jewels—about Feaster and Boozer to present the first fact-based biography of these two nineteenth-century tabloid queens.
A century and a half before social media and reality television made celebrities out of nobodies, Columbia had its own “it girl” whose notoriety could make the Kardashians, Hiltons and Real Housewives jealous.
But the difficulty is separating the fact from fiction. Either way, it would make a good movie.
Her name was Mary Boozer, who called herself Marie.
“Marie Boozer was a real-life Jezebel who was the subject of legends in Columbia for literally decades after the war,” said Columbia historian Tom Elmore. Elmore’s book The Scandalous Lives of Carolina Belles Marie Boozer and Amelia Feaster: Flirting With the Enemy tells the story of Boozer and her ambitious, Yankee-supporting mother.
“Even today you still hear tales about her. She’s the type of person that you would find on the National Enquirer today, or Inside Dish or any other kind of tabloid.”
Elmore originally wrote an article about Boozer titled, Lurid Legends of a Wayward Woman, for Civil War Magazine in August of 1997. He has since extended that research into the book to be released in April 2014.
“She always had suitors,” he said. “Never lacked for menfolks.”