Gertrude Sanford Legendre—the internationally known globetrotter, socialite, and big-game hunter—as photographed by George Platt Lynes for Harper’s Bazaar in 1938
A young Gertrude
Gertrude’s father, John Sanford
Her brother, Stephen (aka “Laddie”) became a renowned polo player
With siblings Stephen and Sarah Jane
Gertie’s graduation day at Foxcroft School in 1920
The 1938 movie Holiday was based on her family.
Hunting in Wyoming, 1920
Camping in Alaska, 1926
On safari in Ethiopia
On safari in Kenya, 1927
Gertrude and Sidney’s wedding portrait, 1929
With Sidney in Palm Beach, 1930
An undated Christmas card picturing her in French Polynesia
A museum trophy
A 1929 portrait shot by Man Ray in Paris
The Legendres purchased Medway in 1930 and restored and updated the 18th-century Dutch-gabled manse. Its 6,700 acres served as a playground for family and guests to ride, hunt, fish, and lounge with the dogs
Gertrude with Landine
Holding Bokara, 1943
Sidney and Gertrude, undated
A riding lesson for Landine, March 1935
A photo shoot with Toni Frissell for Harper’s Bazaar
Sidney with his brothers Morris and Armant
Gertie and Sidney with beloved spaniel Clippy
A picnic on the grounds
In July 1944, Gertie sent a snapshot of herself at work in London to Sidney with a letter describing the windows as “glued over” with netting “for Buz-bomb [sic] protection.”
A shelter entrance...
and a “blitzed” building.
Newspaper headlines announce Gertrude’s capture by the Nazis.
A telegram sent to Gertrude’s family
The 13th-century castle in the German village of Dietz where Gertie was imprisoned for six weeks; it was there that she met Lieutenant Gosewich.
The housekeeper who regularly stole Gertie’s food
Gertie spent two months under 24-hour watch in Wansee under Himmler’s jurisdiction; she charmed a number of her guards, including Ursula (above).
The police headquarters in Wansee, where she was held in November and December 1944
The Nazi-held resort, where she was imprisoned for two months with French officers.
Kreuzlingen, the Swiss border town where Gertie escaped
Otto Ragganbass, chief of the Swiss Police, detained her to confirm her story and identity
She secreted a list of the French captives in the lining of her coat.
In her WAC uniform with Mrs. Ragganbass and her son in Switzerland
Her passport and dog tags
Another guard, Tony May in Stalag VI at Flamersheim, drew her likeness and gifted it to her in October 1944; She would incorporate the image into her Christmas card the following year.
SS Lieutenant William Gosewich
Gertie during her National Geographic expedition to Africa in 1952 (the name Weeks refers to her brief marriage to Dr. Carnes Weeks)
Leading a trek to an African kingdom
For more than a half century, “Charleston’s Grandest Dame” hosted a New Year’s Eve masquerade ball at Medway
Gertie as a show girl, circa 1950
With Bokara, 1955.
With daughters Landine and Bokara (seated) in Medway’s “Trophy Room,” undated
Before she died, Gertrude placed conservation easements on the property to protect it from commercial development forever.
A recent shot of the house
After the war, she wrote her first memoir, The Sands Ceased to Run (1947), followed by The Time of My Life in 1987.
With her ever-present dogs in 1973
Sidney’s grave at Medway; when Gertrude died in 2000—just shy of her 98th birthday—she was buried next to him.