On a recent visit to New York City, Randolph Churchill visited the historic Green-Wood Cemetery in the borough of Brooklyn to pay his respects at the tomb of his great-great-great-grandfather Leonard Jerome, the father of Sir Winston Churchill’s mother Jennie. Jerome was a well-known Wall Street speculator and raconteur in the nineteenth century. His portrait now hangs at Randolph’s home in Kent not far from Chartwell, the beloved country home of Randolph’s illustrious great-grandfather.
New York Churchillians Marilyn Courtney and Randall Baker escorted Randolph to the gravesite of Sir Winston’s maternal grandfather on Sunday, 1 November—the day of the annual New York Marathon. Marilyn’s research efforts at the cemetery office followed by a reconnaissance visit allowed her to locate the tomb in the massive (478 acre) cemetery. The tomb is located in section 37 / 42, Lot # 14234 (facing Sylvan Lake on Lake Avenue.)
Leonard Jerome was born on 3 November 1817 in upstate New York. His flamboyant career on Wall Street combined the making and losing of fortunes with opulent spending. During the New York Draft Riots in July 1863, he defended the New York Times office building with a Gatling gun. In addition to yachting, he enjoyed thoroughbred horse racing and helped to found the American Jockey Club. The Jerome Stakes, the second oldest stakes race in the United States, is run annually at Aqueduct Park and is one of the major qualifying races for the Kentucky Derby.
Jerome died surrounded by his wife and daughters in Brighton on 3 March 1891. His body was shipped back to the United States for burial in the vault he had built years before his family settled in England. Green-Wood Cemetery is the resting place of many New York luminaries including Leonard Bernstein, Henry Steinway, and the parents of Theodore Roosevelt. When Randolph Churchill expressed a desire to visit the site, Marilyn Courteney and Randal Baker were happy to assist.
Marilyn’s mother, Catherine Peterson, had a personal connection with Sir Winston. She was one of the nurses that treated then plain Mr. Churchill in 1931 at the Lennox Hill Hospital after Churchill was struck down by a passing car while attempting to cross Park Avenue and forgetting on which side of the road Americans drive. Additionally, Marilyn’s father, Staff Sgt. Kenneth Courtney, served in the Eighth Air Force as an aerial gunner in a B-24 and flew sixty-eight combat missions over France and Germany.
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