A Poem by Belle Brezing of Lexington, Kentucky


Sitting to night in my chamber, a school girl figure
and lonely, I kiss the end of my finger, that and that only.

Reveries rises from the smokey mouth. Memories linger surround
me. Boys that are married or single. Gather around me. School boys
in pantalets roumping, Boys that now are growing to be young lands,
Boys that kiked to be Kissed; and like to give kisses.

Kisses. I remember them: Those in the corner were fleetest:
Sweet were those won the Sly in the Dark were the sweetest.
Girls are tender and gentle. To woo was allmost to win them.
They lips are good as ripe peaches, and cream for finger.
Girls are sometimes flirts, and coquettish; Now catch and Kiss if
you can sin: could I catch both - ah, wasent I a happy Girl.

Boys is pretty and blooming sweetly, yea sweetness over their rest!
Them I loved dearly and truely. Last and the best.

Writing by Belle Brezing, Lexington Ky

Mary Bell Cox was born June 16, 1860 (illegitimate) to Sarah Anne Cox, who on December 16, 1861, married George Brezing. Mary Bell moved with her older sister Hester and mother to a small brick house on West Main Street, just west of Jefferson Street. Brezing sold his saloon and opened a grocery store at the corner. Her parents were often drunk and violent; but neighbors remembered the girls were always very well dressed; Hester went to the old No. 2 (Harrison) School then Dudley School (corner of Maxwell and Mill). Sarah was granted a divorce in 1866; and she went to live with a local carriage painter, William McMeekin, who gave both her and her children his last name (though there is no record of their having been married).

Hester married John (Pick) Norton, a painter, on Oct 24 1871. It is probably after this that the poem (above) was written -- sometime in 1874, perhaps. Belle was pregnant at 15 and on September 14, 1875, married James Kenney, a 19 year old cigar maker apprentice -- the Lexington Daily Press writes articles about her marriage and then about the murder of her lover, Johnny Cook. Kenney left Lexington. Daisy May Kenny was born on March 14, 1876; and Belle boarded her with Mrs. Barnet who lived across the street on W Main -- Daisy May was later discovered to be severely disabled and lived most of her life in institutions.

On December 24, 1879, Belle went to the "bawdy house" of Jenny Hill on Main St (formerly Robert S. Todd's house, where Mary Todd Lincoln grew up). She was so successful at this enterprise that she started her own house: on July 1, 1881, she rented part of a row house on N Upper Street across from Transylvania University. On July 13, 1882, she birthed a stillborn infant (buried in the Lexington Cemetary, Section G-1 Lot 121).

On Dec. 14, 1882, she was pardoned by Governor Luke P. Blackburn for keeping a bawdy House. She continued to be successfully financially even though she was indicted more times than any other citizen in Lexington. She bought 194 N Upper St (near corner of 4th St) on July 18, 1883; in June 1886 she purchased a 12-grave lot (Section O, Lot 6) in Calvary Cemetery & moved her mother's body from an unmarked grave to one under a large monument engraved with her name (Sarah McMeekin, born May 5, 1836, Died May 19, 1876).

The Lexington Daily Press on Jan. 13, 1889, carried a "Petition of Citizens" on the front page which urged the closing of "houses of ill fame conducted by Belle Breezing at 194 North Upper Street; Lettie Powell, 196 N Upper Street; and Molly Parker, 154 N Upper Street." Belle bought a small house on Dewees Street in 1888 but rented it out. With the help of William M Singerly, a multimillionaire from Philadelphia, she bought Michael Foley's 2 story brick house on the corner of Wilson and Megowan Street. Here she entertained gentlemen with great flair. On March 16, 1895, a fire in her house led her to expand it to three floors. Finally, on Feb. 16, 1917, her lover, Billy Mabon died & by November Belle had closed her house.

Her sister, Hester, died on March 1, 1926; and she lived in the huge mansion at 59 Megowan Street with her addiction to morphine tended by her loyal doctor, Dr. C.A. Nevitt. In 1938 she was diagnosed with uterine cancer; she died at 4:30 am, Sunday, Aug. 11, 1940. A public auction was held on August 22nd (garnered $8,318.54 after expenses). Daisy May died August 15, 1948, while undergoing operation for a broken hip though the death certificate stated that she also had a broken neck. Belle's house was converted to Floral Apartments and burned 1973. Another auction was held on March 23, 1974, and a few days later the house was razed.

See Buddy Thompson. Madam Belle Brezing. Lexington, Ky.: Buggy Whip Press, 1983.

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