Below the LineJuly 16, 2015
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Every family has its secrets—a recipe or fishing spot, perhaps. But for the storied Bingham family, of Louisville, Kentucky, the secrets could fill volumes. And, for more than a century, they have. In the 1980s, the power struggle that resulted in the dismantling of the family’s media empire, which included the Louisville Courier-Journal, was the topic of countless newspaper and magazine stories, even books. In 1917, the subject was even more sensational: the death of Mary Lily Kenan Flagler, the second wife of family patriarch Robert Worth Bingham, who launched the family to fame and fortune with her Standard Oil inheritance. Kenan’s body was exhumed by members of her family to test for evidence of poison. “MRS. BINGHAM WAS DRUGGED,” a tabloid headline screamed.