Today's Hours
Museum: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Today's Hours
Museum: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Zilpha
Zilpha, front
Zilpha, side
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Zilpha has an Armand Marseille bisque head with auburn hair and blue eyes. Her evening dress comes from an article called "The Conservatory" in Petersons Magazine in June of 1879. It is a purple velvet gown in the new princess line with a black lace overlay. The princess line extended the slender line that became popular in the early 1870s and created a bit of a tubular silhouette. To produce the right physique, a new corset was introduced and less underwear worn. The front of the skirt and/or bodice had tapes inside enabling them to be pulled closer to the body. The Princess style did not have a waist seam in order to emphasize length and slimness. A bustle was still worn, but was smaller and worn lower down over the buttocks. Below the knee, the skirts fullness extended into a train. Lace could now be machine made and became popular across all economic classes as a result. Hair for evening events was usually brought in soft waves to the top of the head, as we see here, and accompanied by frizzed bangs (or a fringe, as it was sometimes known) across the forehead. Zilpha has augmented her evening costume with a jet cape (made from an original source of the period), a lace collarette, black satin slippers, and a black jet hair ornament with a black aigrette. An aigrette was the tufted crest or plume of an egret, often used to decorate a woman's headdress. These became so popular that later the term continued to be used for similar headdresses that substituted jewels and other decorative pieces for feathers. This marked the beginning of a craze for bird feathers as decoration that would lead to a scandal, a near war, and some new laws over the next two decades.



Caroline Zilpha Nicholls (1840 - 1930)



Caroline Zilpha Gaion was born at Ridgefield Plantaion near Thibodaux. She married Francis Tillou Nicholls on April 26, 1860, just as the Civil War was beginning to heat up. Ridgefield was her dowry. She herself was barely five feet tall, a petite and exceptionally pretty by accounts of the time. When the war broke out, she decided that rather than stay on the plantation, she would follow her husband and remain as close to the battlefield as possible. When she received word that he had been mortally wounded, she commandeered a wagon, mule and driver, and went to fetch him. She learned that he was still alive, though he had lost an arm, but was a prisoner behind Union lines. Badgering the Union command repeatedly for his release, she was described by one Union officer as a "fairy-like creature, plucky as a terrier". Eventually, she was able to get Francis exchanged for a Union prisoner. Francis went back to the battle lines, and a year later lost a leg as well. Even missing his left arm and leg, Francis was determined enough to be elected governor of Louisiana in 1877, the first term after Reconstruction. He was re-elected for a second term as well. In a famous speech nominating him, Tay Goode of Terrebonne Parish announced "I give you all that is left of Francis Nichols, because all that is left of him is right!" During their marriage, Caroline managed to bear seven surviving children, even though one out of every three of her pregnancies resulted in a lost child. In 1910, Francis and Caroline celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. He passed away in 1912; when she died in 1930, her last words were, "Open the door and let General Nicholls in."