Catherine “Kate” Brewing Bennett lived in the early 1800’s and was considered to be the most beautiful woman in St. Louis. In the Victorian Era, having ivory white skin was a sign of beauty and status. Kate not wanting to be outdone, was determine to find a method to whiten her skin. She found that by taking small doses of Arsenic, she could achieve the ivory white skin color she desired and maintain her youthful appearance. The only problem with taking Arsenic is that its effects are cumulative. Arsenic doesn’t leave the body easily and prolong use no matter how small the dosage will lead to acute exposure and a very painful death.
On November 20, 1855, Kate died of Arsenic poisoning, but her vanity persisted even in death. Kate was somewhat flirtatious and often made her husband very jealous. Wanting to maintain her youthful appearance, Kate never told her true age. So while on her deathbed, the last thing she requested was that her birth date not be engraved on her monument. She hoped this small omission would prevent anyone from knowing her correct age and she could maintain her youthful ruse. Her husband being a gentleman honored her last request. He did not have her birth date engraved on her monument, but instead ordered that her correct age be engraved on her monument. According to her monument, Kate Brewing Bennett died at the age of 37.