What It Took for One Gilded Age Socialite to Get a Divorce—and Keep Her Dignity

April White in Slate:

Flora Bigelow Dodge had not traveled to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in January 1903 for the same reason so many women of her acquaintance had. She did not do anything for the same reason other women did—at least not if you believed the newspapers. A fixture in the society pages, Flora was the “most daring, most original, cleverest woman in New York.” She was a wonderful musician, a graceful dancer, an expert horsewoman, and a captivating storyteller, an author of plays and short stories. She was “both courageous and imaginative.” She was witty, ambitious, generous, and beautiful, a woman of “unusual individuality” with a retinue of admirers.

She was also unhappy.

After 16 years of marriage to Charlie Dodge, son of the Dodge family, well-known for its lumber and mining fortune, 34-year-old Flora wanted a divorce—one which would be denied to her in her home state of New York unless she could furnish proof of adultery. And so she traveled west to join the “divorce colony,” as newspapermen called the sorority of dissatisfied wives who moved to South Dakota at the turn of the twentieth century to take advantage of the laxest divorce laws in the country.

More here.