Edith (Carow) Roosevelt
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Edith Kermit (Carow) Roosevelt (1861 - 1948)

Edith Kermit Roosevelt formerly Carow
Born in Norwich, New London, Connecticut, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Wife of — married 2 Dec 1886 in London, Englandmap
Descendants descendants
Died at age 87 in Oyster Bay, Livingston, New York, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 21 Oct 2009
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The second wife of President Theodore Roosevelt. She was First Lady during his presidency (1901-1909).

Norwich, Connecticut

6 August 1861 [1]

Her middle name was the surname of a paternal great-uncle, Robert Kermit.


Charles Carow, (born 4 October 1825, New York, New York, died 17 March 1883). Son of a successful mercantile family, Carow pursued an import-export business. Shamed by the financial difficulties of her father and the resulting deprivations she perceived these matters to have effected on her childhood, Edith Roosevelt made a lifelong effort to destroy many records and accounts about him.


Gertrude Elizabeth Tyler (born 1834, Norwich, Connecticut, died 27 April 1895, Turin, Italy) educated in New York and in Paris, France where she joined her father during his business endeavors there. Married, 8 June 1859, Christ Episcopal Church, Norwich, Connecticut. Within three years of Edith Roosevelt’s birth, her family relocated to her childhood home on Livingston Place and Fourteenth Street, New York City. Beset by severe alcoholism and a serious fall and concussion, Charles Carow’s success began to rapidly fade.

Birth Order and Siblings

Second of three; one brother, one sister; brother [name unknown] (born 26 February 1860, died August 1860); sister Emily Carow, (18 April 1865 – 19 March 1939 [2]

Although Edith Kermit Carow had a teen romance with Teddy Roosevelt, he married someone else. The two were not reunited until after he became a widower. When they moved into the White House in 1901, it wasn't quite big enough for a family of six children, so Edith had a new West Wing built. She also established many of the traditions of the First Lady that remain today. 11, 2014 [3]

Religious Affiliation:



Private kindergarten and primary school education, the Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. home, 28 East 20th Street, and Anna Bulloch Gracie home, Park Avenue, New York, New York, approximately September 1864-April 1869.As a child, Edith Carow and her sister Emily were raised by an Irish immigrant nursemaid, Mary Ledwith, who spoke frequently of the impoverished life she had left in Ireland. Similarly, it was through Anna Bulloch Gracie, another woman mentor of family association and the sister of Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. that she learned how to read, along with the Roosevelt children (Elliott, Theodore, Corinne and Anna). Anna Gracie further instructed Edith Carow in needlework, with other girl students, at her rented home on Park Avenue. Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. also taught Edith Carow and his own children in natural studies with trips to the countryside, wrote plays for them to memorize lines and perform and gave them topics to prepare oral recitations on. Early on, Edith Carow evidenced a voracious appetite for reading and poetry.

Dodsworth School for Dancing and Deportment, Twenty-Sixth Street and Fifth Avenue, New York, New York, 1869-1871. Here Edith Carow was taught not only how to formally dance, but to affect the social mannerisms which denoted the upper-class.

Louise Comstock Private School, West Fortieth Street, New York, New York, 1871-1879


25 years old, 2 December 1886 to Theodore Roosevelt, rancher and author, (27 October 1858, New York, New York, died 6 January 1919, Oyster Bay, New York) at St. George’s Anglican Church, Hanover Square, London, England. After their wedding ceremony, the Roosevelt took a honeymoon in France, visiting Paris, Lyons, Marseilles and Hyeres in the Provence region and then Florence, Rome, Venice, Pompeii, Naples, and Capri., joined by her mother and sister who settled in Rome to live. An erroneous account of the Roosevelt marriage, confusing her maiden name “Carow” with the aristocratic Maryland “Carroll” family conveyed the false impression in U.S. newspapers that she was six years younger than her real age and a Roman Catholic.


Four sons, one daughter: Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (12 September 1887 – 11 July 1944), Kermit Roosevelt (10 October 1889 – 4 June 1943), Ethel Roosevelt [Derby] (13 August 1891 - 10 December 1977), Archibald Bullock Roosevelt (9 April 1894 – 13 October 1979), Quentin Roosevelt (9 November 1897 – 16 July 1918)

Edith Roosevelt became pregnant with her first child while on her honeymoon. She was in close accord with her husband’s strict and pronounced moral code and designation of gender roles: all citizens should be encouraged to assume the role of parents in society and those who did not should be penalized by federal tax; men should remain celibate if unmarried; those convicted of rape should receive the death penalty.

Edith Roosevelt suffered at least two known miscarriages, once early in her marriage, on 8 August 1888 and another time while serving as First Lady, on 9 May 1902.

It was Edith Roosevelt who insisted that she raise as her own daughter the lone child of Theodore Roosevelt’s first marriage, Alice. It can be speculated that the child he only referred to as “Baby Lee” was a living reminder to him of the painful loss of his first wife. Raised for the first three years of her life by his sister Anna, Theodore Roosevelt was inclined to continue this arrangement, telling her “if you wish to you shall keep Baby Lee.” Once he had decided to remarry, Roosevelt warned his sister Corinne that he “did not care to see” his late first wife’s sister during a visit to New York. Edith Roosevelt insisted that her stepdaughter call her “Mother,” but also arranged for Alice to spend three weeks each spring and fall with the family of her late mother. [4]

Scandalized by the fact that her husband’s brother, Elliott Roosevelt, fathered an illegitimate child by one of his servants, Edith Roosevelt sought to limit the visits of his daughter, future First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Famously calling her niece an “ugly duckling [who] may turn out to be a swan,” she did not encourage a close relationship between Eleanor and her own stepdaughter Alice, who later became rivals both in private and public life.


Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt Teddy’s Widow Out of Public Eye for Years

Emerged into Spotlight Once When She Backed Hoover Against F. D. R. Oyster Bay, N. Y., Sept. 30.—Mrs. Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt, 87, widow of the late President Theodore Roosevelt, died today at her Sagamore Hill home in Oyster Bay.

A family spokesman said “she died very peacefully in her sleep about 6 or 6:15 a.m. today.

At her bedside when the end came were her daughter, Mrs. Ethel Roosevelt Derby, of Oyster Bay, and Mrs. Derby’s husband, Dr. Richard Derby.

Rites “Absolutely Private.” “Absolutely private” funeral services will be held Saturday, with only the family present.

She had been in poor health since she fractured her hip in a fall 13 years ago. Her decline in recent months had been rapid. Besides Mrs. Derby, she is survived by a son, Archibald Bullock Roosevelt, of Cold Spring Harbor, L. I., and a stepdaughter, Mrs. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, of Washington.

She was preceded in death by her three sons, Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt, Quentin Roosevelt and Kermit Roosevelt. Mrs. Roosevelt probably was the most retiring and least publicized of President’s wives.

A Background Figure The lack of publicity, which kept her a background figure, although a gracious and dignified one, was at her own request. She was once quoted as saying:

“A woman’s name should appear in print but twice—when she was married and when she is buried.”

Her latter years were spent in almost complete retirement at her Long Island home. But she did emerge dramatically into the spotlight once—when her late husband’s fifth cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was first nominated for the presidency. Mrs. Roosevelt publicly supported Herbert Hoover and even flew to Washington to be present at the Hoover notification ceremony. But when she was asked to make a statement to newsmen, she replied, characteristically: “I haven’t talked for the press, not in 71 years and it’s too late to begin now.”

Born in Norwich, Conn. Mrs. Roosevelt was born in Norwich, Conn., Aug. 6, 1861, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Carow and a great-granddaughter of Col. Daniel Taylor, revolutionary war figure.

She met Theodore Roosevelt as a child of nine at a birthday party when they were next-door neighbors on New York’s 14th street. She became his second wife in St. George’s church, London, when she was 25. She had five children—Kermit, Archie, Ethel (Mrs. Richard Derby), Theodore, Jr., and Quentin. She was the step-mother of the “White House princess, “Alice Roosevelt Longworth, whose mother died at her birth.

Most Widely Known of Sons Probably the most widely known of Mrs. Roosevelt’s sons was the late Theodore, Jr., former governor of Puerto Rico, who died in France, July 12, 1944. He was a brigadier general in the U. S. army, during World War II. While in the White House, Mrs. Roosevelt, Sr., busied herself taking care of the children, keeping house, and sorting out bits of news she thought might interest her husband. It was she who was responsible for passage of the rule that no official presidential china or glass should be disposed of at public sale, and for the present collection of White House mementoes of previous administrations.

Mrs. Roosevelt also was influential in the passage of the bill which led to establishment of the national gallery, now housed in the national museum. “Teddy’s” widow was noted for her keen business judgment, and for her poise in times of stress.

Served Firemen Coffee On one occasion, when fire damaged her Sagamore Hill home, she quietly controlled the excited servants and stayed in the house throughout the excitement—then served the firemen coffee and cakes. Later, she casually referred to the blaze as “just a few shingles off my roof.”

Despite her retiring nature, she loved to travel. She made annual visits to Europe, visited Theodore, Jr. in Puerto Rico, and toured extensively in South America, Central America and Asia. [Rockford Register Republic, Rockford, Illinois, Published Thursday, September 30, 1948, submitted by C. Danielson] ……………….. Edith Roosevelt—Funeral Simple Funeral Held For Edith Roosevelt Oyster Bay, N. Y., Oct. 2.—Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, widow of the 26th president, was buried today at her husband’s side. Simple services, attended only by relatives and close friends of the 87-year-old former first lady, were held in flower-banked Christ Episcopal Church which the Roosevelt family has attended for generations. Mrs. Roosevelt died Thursday.

The formal Episcopal rites, without eulogy or sermon, were conducted by Rev. John n. Warren. Burial was in 300-year-old Young’s Memorial Cemetery in a plot overlooking Long Island Sound. [Canton Repository, Canton, Ohio, Published Sunday, October 03, 1948, submitted by C. Danielson] [5]


  1. Entered by Stanley Wood, May 22, 2012
  2. [First Ladies Bio Edith Carow online ]
  3. [[Edith Roosevelt. (2014). The Biography Channel website. Retrieved 03:59, Jan 11, 2014, from Biography Channel Edith Roosevelt]
  4. [1]
  5. Genealogy Trails online
  • Stanley Wood, firsthand knowledge. Click the Changes tab for the details of edits by Stanley and others.
  • The White House, www.whitehouse.gov
  • Ancestry Family Trees Publication: Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com.
  • The Tyler Genealogy, Willard I. Tyler Brigham, 1912 (Brigham-#5895).


  • Entered biographical details Vicki Norman
  • WikiTree profile Carow-4 created through the import of Cole Coles Cowles Family Tree.ged on Jul 4, 2011 by Jeff Cole.
  • WikiTree profile Carow-6 created through the import of Cheney 21 Feb 2012.ged on Feb 21, 2012 by Deborah Mayes. See the Changes page for the details of edits by Deborah and others.

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posted by Robin Lee

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Categories: Spouses of US Presidents | First Ladies of the United States