Constance Benson Bailey was born Gertrude Constance Bailey on May 14, 1902 in Rochester, New York. Her father, George C. J. Bailey, was born 1868 in France of Welsh and Scottish ancestry. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1882. He was an art gallery salesman. Her mother was Julia Mason, born 1870 in New York of German ancestry. Her parents married in 1893. There were six children in the family. Her older sister Margaret was born in 1895, Lillian was born in 1898. Her younger sister Evelyn was born in 1904, Alice in 1907, and little brother Frederick was born in 1908. They lived at 191 Warwick Avenue in Rochester, NY.
Her father's love of art influenced her interest to become an artist. It is not known where she studied art, but the art museum in Rochester offered an excellent art school program.
By 1922 she worked as a newspaper cartoonist. She signed her work with the pen-name Constance Benson Bailey. Her drawing style was influenced by the fashionable cartoonist Nell Brinkley (1886-1944), who drew frizzy-haired young ladies for the Hearst newspapers.
By 1926 story illustrations signed "Constance Benson Bailey" appeared regularly in Street & Smith's best selling pulp magazine Love Story.
On December 31, 1929 she married Thomas Walter Montmeny in a Manhattan Civil Court ceremony. Being New Year's Eve, the courthouse was packed with spirited celebrants. Her husband was born August 9, 1901 in Chicopee, Massachusetts. His family was of French Canadian and Russian ancestry. He was a veteran of WWI and a respected real estate broker. He managed rentals for the famous Chrysler Building on East 42nd Street.
The married couple moved to a large apartment building at One Old Post Road in Mamaroneck, New York. Her apartment was near to New Rochelle, a popular community for famous artists, such as Norman Rockwell, J. C. Leyendecker, and Nell Brinkley. Her commute was only thirty minutes north from Grand Central Station.
On August 5, 1930 The New York Evening Post announced that Mrs. Constance Montmeny had leased an art studio at 49 East 96th Street.
On March 3, 1931 the New York Daily Mirror published Walter Winchell's famous gossip column, which stated, "Nell Brinkley's chief competitor, Constance Benson Bailey (Mrs. T. A. Montmeny) is sewing tiny things." Winchell later followed-up that statement on April 28, 1931 with news that, "The Thomas A. Montmenys (Constance Benson Bailey) have a girl!"
On April 4, 1931 her daughter Clair was born in Mamaroneck, NY.
On May 6, 1932 The New York Times ran an advertisement for a new Long Island development property in Atlantic Beach called the Casa Del Mar Beach Club, where the rentals were managed by Thomas A. Montmeny.
Her work continued to regularly appear in Street & Smith's Love Story magazine until 1938.
Her husband's real estate management work brought them to Florida, where they moved after WWII.
Constance Bailey Montmeny died in Florida at the age of eighty-two in October of 1983.
© David Saunders 2011