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From left: Elizabeth Wister Wurts, Margaret Wister
Meigs, Sarah Logan Wister Starr
The status of Belfield Residents is shown by the wedding gifts they received from Philadelphia high society. When Sarah Logan Wister married James Starr at Belfield in 1936, she received more than 700 gifts; shown is Volume 2 (of 3) of her record of those gifts.


The 158 years that the descendants of William Logan Fisher spent at Belfield are a time of high achievers. Space permits recording just one set of siblings, children of William Rotch Wister and Mary Eustis. The oldest sister, Mary Channing, founded the Civic Club of Philadelphia, headed Philadelphia Voting Rights for Women, was the first woman on the central School Board; when she died, newspapers across the land called her the most famous woman in Philadelphia. Her sister Frances Anne Wister was a co-founder of the Philadelphia Orchestra and head of its Women's Club for half a century. She received an award as the most outstanding woman in Philadelphia. Her sister Ella was an author, contributing three to the more than a hundred books written by Belfield people. Their brother John Casper was an eminent landscpae architect and author; when he died, the papers mourned the loss of "the dean of American horticulturists."

Frances Anne and Ella Wister on the Cape May, N.J., boardwalk


John Caspar Wister in WWI uniform

Left: The front parlor of Belfield Mansion, c. 1960. Above the mantel is a portrait of actress and abolitionist Frances Anne (Fanny) Kemble, described by Penn sociologist Digby Baltzell as "the most creative and fascinating woman who ever lived in Philadelphia." Kemble's daughter married the father of novelist Owen Wister. Right: Fanny Kemble's letter mentions this daughter as "Mrs. Wister."

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