Romani Francesconi arrived in Maundbury in 1858. It’s said that a lawyer purchased a home for her with cash in a very secluded area. Her bags and furnishings arrived shortly after along with a staff of three. Ross Albrect was a cook who also handled the stables. He was a large man who said little. June Beckter was a house woman and a personal aid to Francesconi. Then there was Judith Thompson, but little more is known of her or what she did within the house structure. Francesconi arrived several days after the house was running and functional.
Several large donations were made to Maundbury by Francesconi’s. Massive renovations to Maunbury’s infrastructure came from the funds. New roads, new equipment for the fire station and a new school were just the start of Francesconi’s kindness. It’s said that she bought her way into Maundbury, but that she didn’t want her name attached to any of the new establishments she helped to create or updated. She was given her space and her privacy.
Accounts of her age very greatly. Some described her in letters and notes as a “woman of maturity and age”. Others speak of her as a middle-aged lady. However, all accounts speak of her as serious, pious and dark. She walked with a pronounced limp – the result of an accident involving a horse when she was a young woman, she said.
In 1860, a request was made by the parents of the newly created Deer Woods School to have a photo taken of Francesconi to hang in the school’s main hallway. Between the parents’ requests and the numerous pleadings of the children themselves when Francesconi was seen out in town, an agreement was finally come to and a photographer was sent for.
The photographer requested that Francesconi place the box she was holding elsewhere while he took the photo, but she refused to part with the strange case.
The photo was hung in the school’s main hall for years until Francesconi’s passing in 1902 where it was removed and hung in the town hall. The Francesconi home was boarded up and the staff disappeared as suddenly as they had appeared.
Francesconi’s body went missing shortly after - her crypt broken into and casket lifted from the stone and marble slabs it rested within.
In 1922, a woman claiming to be Francesconi’s daughter appeared in Maundbury. Romani Francesconi’s lawyer confirmed Ida Francesconi’s identity and she moved into the Francesconi home shortly after. The woman was very similar to her mother in stature, demeanor and desire to be left to herself. She wore a special shoe with a high heel due to some back issues she had developed as a child. She brought in a staff of two and several horses for the stable.
She hired a team of young men to renovate the Francesconi home and stables. Rumors spread about the wild nature of the young woman. She was said to be flirtatious and frequently greeted the young worker staff in nothing more than her bedclothes. She worked the men to the point of exhaustion daily. Several of the men fell ill and had to be replaced by other workers. No explanation was given for the men’s flu-like illness. The work went on for a year. It was said that she held parties once every few weeks to keep the men going - inviting young ladies from Maunbury to her home and bringing in fine food and drink to go along with the live music and dancing. While looked down upon by some, it was the way of the times and the wild parties were now part of the culture of the time.
During that time, Francesconi was rarely seen outside of her home. She, too, made donations to various charities and projects within Maundbury an was a pilar of the community even though she was rarely seen within it. While the rumors still ran rampant, people showed her kindness and respect. She was looked at as a firebrand. A free spirit.
And, as quickly as she arrived, Ida Francesconi left. The staff left during the night as well. The new Francesconi mansion, stables and horses were all sold off. When asked, the Francesconi lawyer Samuel Komf had nothing to say about the woman.