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Vanderbilt family


Vanderbilt family


The Vanderbilt family is an American family who gained prominence during the Gilded Age. Their success began with the shipping and railroad empires of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the family expanded into various other areas of industry and philanthropy. Cornelius Vanderbilt's descendants went on to build grand mansions on Fifth Avenue in New York City; luxurious "summer cottages" in Newport, Rhode Island; the palatial Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina; and various other opulent homes. The family also built Berkshire cottages in the western region of Massachusetts; examples include Elm Court (Lenox and Stockbridge, Massachusetts).

The Vanderbilts were once the wealthiest family in the United States. Cornelius Vanderbilt was the richest American until his death in 1877. After that, his son William Henry Vanderbilt acquired his father's fortune, and was the richest American until his death in 1885. The Vanderbilts' prominence lasted until the mid-20th century, when the family's 10 great Fifth Avenue mansions were torn down, and most other Vanderbilt houses were sold or turned into museums in what has been referred to as the "Fall of the House of Vanderbilt".

Branches of the family are found on the United States East Coast. Contemporary descendants include American art historian John Wilmerding, journalist Anderson Cooper (son of Gloria Vanderbilt), actor Timothy Olyphant, musician John P. Hammond, screenwriter James Vanderbilt, and the Duke of Marlborough James Spencer-Churchill.

History

The progenitor of the Vanderbilt family was Jan Aertszoon or Aertson (1620–1705), a Dutch farmer from the village of De Bilt in Utrecht, Netherlands, who emigrated to the Dutch colony of New Netherland as an indentured servant to the Van Kouwenhoven family in 1650. The name of Jan's village, in the genitive case, was added to the Dutch "van" ("from") to create "Van der Bilt", which evolved into "Vanderbilt" when the English took control of New Amsterdam (now Manhattan). The family is associated with the Dutch patrician Van der Bilt. His great-great-great-grandson, Cornelius Vanderbilt, began the rise of the Vanderbilt dynasty. He was the fourth of nine children born into a Staten Island family of modest means. Through his paternal great-great grandmother, Abigail Southard, he descends from Republic of Salé President Jan Janszoon and his son Anthony Janszoon van Salee. They were among the earliest arrivals to 17th-century New Amsterdam. In a number of documents dating back to that period, Anthony is described as tawny, as his mother was of Berber origin from Cartagena in the Kingdom of Murcia. Cornelius Vanderbilt left school at age 11 and went on to build a shipping and railroad empire that, during the 19th century, would make him one of the wealthiest men in the world.

Starting with a single boat, he grew his fleet until he was competing with Robert Fulton for dominance of the New York waterways, his energy and eagerness earning him the nickname "Commodore", a United States Navy title for a captain of a small task force. Fulton's company had established a monopoly on trade in and out of New York Harbor. Vanderbilt, based in New Jersey at the time, flouted the law, steaming in and out of the harbor under a flag that read, "New Jersey Must Be Free!" He also hired the attorney Daniel Webster to argue his case before the United States Supreme Court; Vanderbilt won, thereby establishing an early precedent for the United States' first laws of interstate commerce.

While many Vanderbilt family members had joined the Episcopal Church, Cornelius Vanderbilt remained a member of the Moravian Church to his death. The Vanderbilt family lived on Staten Island until the mid-1800s, when the Commodore built a house on Washington Place (in what is now Greenwich Village). Although he always occupied a relatively modest home, members of his family would use their wealth to build magnificent mansions. Shortly before his death in 1877, Vanderbilt donated US$1 million (equivalent to $29 million in 2023) for the establishment of Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

The Commodore left the majority of his enormous fortune to his eldest son, William Henry Vanderbilt. William Henry, who outlived his father by just eight years, increased the profitability of his father's holdings, increased the reach of the New York Central Railroad, and doubled the Vanderbilt wealth. He was the only heir to increase the Vanderbilt fortune. He built the first of what would become many grand Vanderbilt mansions on Fifth Avenue, at 640 Fifth Avenue. William Henry appointed his first son, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, as the next "Head of House".

Cornelius II built the largest private home in New York, at 1 West 57th Street, containing approximately 154 rooms, designed by George B. Post. He also built The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island.

Cornelius II's brother, William Kissam Vanderbilt, also featured prominently in the family's affairs. He also built a home on Fifth Avenue and would become one of the great architectural patrons of the Gilded Age, hiring the architects for (the third, and surviving) Grand Central Terminal. He also built Marble House at 596 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island.

George Washington Vanderbilt II, the 3rd and youngest son of William Henry Vanderbilt and youngest brother of Cornelius II, hired architect Richard Morris Hunt and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to construct Biltmore Estate on 125,000 acres (51,000 ha) near Asheville, North Carolina. The 250 room mansion, with 175,856 sq ft (16,337.6 m2) of floor space, is the largest house in the United States.

While some of Cornelius Vanderbilt's descendants gained fame in business, others achieved prominence in other ways:

  • Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt (1877–1915), was a passenger on the RMS Lusitania and died when it sank.
  • Alfred's eldest son, from his first marriage, William Henry Vanderbilt III was Governor of Rhode Island.
  • Alfred's second son Alfred Jr. became a noted horse breeder and racing elder.
  • William Kissam Vanderbilt's son Harold Stirling Vanderbilt (1884–1970) gained fame as a sportsman. He invented the contract form of bridge and won the most coveted prize in yacht racing, the America's Cup, on three occasions.
  • Harold's brother William Kissam "Willie K" Vanderbilt II launched the Vanderbilt Cup for auto racing.
  • Cornelius Vanderbilt II's granddaughter Gloria Vanderbilt (1924–2019) was a noted artist, designer, actress, author, and business woman.
  • Gloria's son, Anderson Cooper, is a Peabody Award and Emmy Award-winning journalist, author, and television producer and personality.
  • Cornelius Vanderbilt II's daughter Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney was a sculptor, art patron and collector, and founder of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

In 1855, Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt donated 45 acres (18 ha) of property to the Moravian Church and Cemetery at New Dorp on Staten Island, New York. Later, his son William Henry Vanderbilt donated a further 4 acres (1.6 ha). The Vanderbilt Family Mausoleum was designed in 1885 by architect Richard Morris Hunt and landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted.

Vanderbilt family tree

Cornelius Vanderbilt and his descendants (by year of birth)

  1. Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794–1877), 1st generation
  2. William Henry Vanderbilt (1821–1885), 2nd generation, son of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  3. Cornelius Jeremiah Vanderbilt (1830–1882), 2nd generation, son of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  4. Cornelius Vanderbilt II (1843–1899), 3rd generation, grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  5. Margaret Louisa Vanderbilt (1845–1924), 3rd generation, granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  6. William Kissam Vanderbilt (1849–1920), 3rd generation, grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  7. Emily Thorn Vanderbilt (1850–1946), 3rd generation, granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  8. William Knapp Thorn (1851–1911), 3rd generation, grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  9. Florence Adele Vanderbilt (1854–1952), 3rd generation, granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  10. Frederick William Vanderbilt (1856–1938), 3rd generation, grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  11. Eliza "Lila" Osgood Vanderbilt (1860–1936), 3rd generation, granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  12. George Washington Vanderbilt II (1862–1914), 3rd generation, grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  13. Cornelius Vanderbilt III (1873–1942), 4th generation, great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  14. Emily Vanderbilt Sloane (1874–1970), 4th generation, great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  15. Alice Louise Vanderbilt Shepard (1874–1950), 4th generation, great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  16. Gertrude Vanderbilt (1875–1942), 4th generation, great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  17. Elliott Fitch Shepard Jr. (1876–1927), 4th generation, great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  18. Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt (1877–1915), 4th generation, great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  19. Consuelo Vanderbilt (1877–1964), 4th generation, great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  20. William Kissam Vanderbilt II (1878–1944), 4th generation, great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  21. Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt (1880–1925), 4th generation, great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  22. James Watson Webb II (1884–1960), 4th generation, great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  23. Harold Stirling Vanderbilt (1884–1970), 4th generation, great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  24. Gladys Moore Vanderbilt (1886–1965), 4th generation, great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  25. Flora Payne Whitney (1897–1986), 5th generation, great-great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  26. John Spencer-Churchill, 10th Duke of Marlborough (1897–1972), 5th generation, great-great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  27. Cornelius Vanderbilt IV (1898–1974), 5th generation, great-great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  28. William Douglas Burden (1898–1978), 5th generation, great-great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  29. Lord Ivor Spencer-Churchill (1898–1956), 5th generation, great-great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  30. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney (1899–1992), 5th generation, great-great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  31. Muriel Vanderbilt (1900–1972), 5th generation, great-great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  32. Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt (1900–1976), 4th generation, great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  33. Governor William Henry Vanderbilt III (1901–1981)
  34. Mary Cathleen Vanderbilt (1904–1944)
  35. Frederick Vanderbilt Field (1905–2000)
  36. William Armistead Moale Burden II (1906–1984)
  37. Shirley Carter Burden (1908–1989), 5th generation, great-great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  38. John Henry Hammond Jr. (1910–1987), 5th generation, great-great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  39. Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt Jr. (1912–1999), 5th generation, great-great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  40. George Washington Vanderbilt III (1914–1961), 5th generation, great-great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  41. James Watson Webb III (1916–2000)
  42. Sir Richard Thorn Pease, 3rd Baronet (1922–2021)
  43. Whitney Tower (1923–1999)
  44. Gloria Laura Vanderbilt (1924–2019)
  45. George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil (1925–2020)
  46. John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough (1926–2014), 6th generation (3 × great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  47. William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil (1928–2017)
  48. Flora Miller Biddle (born 1928)
  49. Lady Rosemary Spencer-Churchill (born 1929)
  50. Christopher Denys Stormont Finch-Hatton, 16th Earl of Winchilsea (1936–1999), 6th generation (3 × great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  51. John Wilmerding (born 1938), 6th generation (3 × great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  52. Shirley Carter Burden Jr. (1941–1996), 6th generation (3 × great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  53. John Paul Hammond (born 1942), 6th generation (3 × great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  54. Kenneth Peter Lyle Mackay, 4th Earl of Inchcape (born 1943), 6th generation (3 × great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  55. Jonathan Edward Pease (born 1952), 6th generation (3 × great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  56. John LeBoutillier (born 1953), 7th generation (4 × great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  57. Sage Sohier (born 1954), 7th generation (4 × great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  58. Charles James Spencer-Churchill, 12th Duke of Marlborough (born 1955), 7th generation (4 × great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  59. Sir Richard Peter Pease, 4th Baronet (born 1958), 6th generation (3 × great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  60. Lady Henrietta Mary Spencer-Churchill (born 1958), 7th generation (4 × great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  61. Nichola Pease (born 1961), 6th generation (3 × great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  62. William Douglas Burden III (born 1965), 7th generation (4 × great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  63. Anderson Hays Cooper (born 1967), 6th generation (3 × great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  64. Daniel Finch-Hatton, 17th Earl of Winchilsea (born 1967), 7th generation (4 × great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  65. Timothy David Olyphant (born 1968), 7th generation (4 × great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  66. James Platten Vanderbilt (born 1975), 7th generation (4 × great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt)
  67. George John Godolphin Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford (born 1992), 8th generation (5 × great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt)

Other Vanderbilt descendants, but not of Cornelius Vanderbilt

  1. Amy Vanderbilt (1908–1974) — believed to be a descended from either a brother or a cousin of Cornelius Vanderbilt

Spouses of descendants of Cornelius Vanderbilt (by year of birth)

  1. Horace F. Clark (1815–1873): 1st husband of Maria Louisa Vanderbilt
  2. Nicholas B. La Bau (1823–1873): 1st husband of Mary Alicia Vanderbilt
  3. Elliott Fitch Shepard (1833–1893): husband of Margaret Louisa Vanderbilt Shepard
  4. Frank Armstrong Crawford Vanderbilt (1839–1885): 2nd wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  5. William Douglas Sloane (1844–1915): 1st husband of Emily Thorn Vanderbilt
  6. Alice Claypoole Vanderbilt (1845–1934): wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt II
  7. Hamilton McKown Twombly (1849–1910): husband of Florence Adele Vanderbilt Twombly
  8. Henry White (1850–1927): 2nd husband of Emily Thorn Vanderbilt
  9. William Seward Webb (1851–1926): husband of Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt Webb
  10. Alva Belmont (1853–1933): 1st wife of William Kissam Vanderbilt
  11. Louise Vanderbilt (1854–1926): wife of Frederick William Vanderbilt
  12. Anne Harriman Vanderbilt (1861–1940): 2nd wife of William Kissam Vanderbilt
  13. Richard M. Tobin (1866–1952): 2nd husband of Florence Adele Sloane
  14. William Jay Schieffelin (1866–1955): husband of Maria Louise Shepard, eldest daughter of Margaret Louisa Vanderbilt Shepard
  15. Jacques Balsan (1868–1956): 2nd husband of Consuelo Vanderbilt
  16. Grace Vanderbilt (1870–1953): wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt III
  17. James A. Burden Jr. (1871–1932): 1st husband of Florence Adele Sloane
  18. Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough (1871–1934): 1st husband of Consuelo Vanderbilt
  19. Dave Hennen Morris (1872–1944): husband of Alice Vanderbilt Morris
  20. Harry Payne Whitney (1872–1930): husband of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
  21. Edith Stuyvesant Gerry (1873–1958): wife of George Washington Vanderbilt II
  22. Virginia Fair Vanderbilt (1875–1935): 1st wife of William Kissam Vanderbilt II
  23. George G. McMurtry (1876–1958): 4th husband of Teresa Sarah Margaret Fabbri
  24. László Széchenyi (1879–1938): husband of Gladys Vanderbilt Széchenyi
  25. Ralph Pulitzer (1879–1939): 1st husband of Frederica Vanderbilt Webb
  26. Leopold Stokowski (1882–1977): 2nd husband of Gloria Vanderbilt
  27. Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888–1960): wife of James Watson Webb II
  28. Frederick Osborn (1889–1981): husband of Margaret Louisa Schieffelin
  29. John Francis Amherst Cecil (1890–1954): 1st husband of Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt
  30. Vivian Francis Bulkeley-Johnson (1891–1968): 2nd husband of Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt
  31. Aileen Osborn Webb (1892–1979): wife of Vanderbilt Webb
  32. Frederic Cameron Church Jr. (1897–1983): 1st husband of Muriel Vanderbilt
  33. John J. Emery (1898–1976): 2nd husband of Adele Sloane Hammond
  34. Jack Speiden (1900–1970): 2nd husband of Rachel Hammond
  35. Arthur Duckworth (1901–1986): 1st husband of Alice Frances Hammond
  36. Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt (1901–1978): wife of Harold Stirling Vanderbilt
  37. Marie Norton Harriman (1903–1970): 1st wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney
  38. Charles Bosanquet (1903–1986): husband of Barbara Schieffelin
  39. Earl E. T. Smith (1903–1991): 1st husband of Consuelo Vanderbilt Earl
  40. Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt (1904–1965): 2nd wife of Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt
  41. Dunbar Bostwick (1908–2006): husband of Electra Webb
  42. George W. Headley (1908–1985): 3rd husband of Barbara Vanderbilt Whitney
  43. Eleanor Searle (1908–2002): 3rd wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney
  44. Pat DiCicco (1909–1978): 1st husband of Gloria Vanderbilt
  45. Benny Goodman (1909–1986): 2nd husband of Alice Frances Hammond
  46. Edward P. Morgan (1910–1993): 2nd husband of Katharine Sage Burden
  47. Christopher Finch-Hatton, 15th Earl of Winchilsea (1911–1950): 1st husband of Countess Gladys Széchényi
  48. Edwin F. Russell (1914–2001): 1st husband of Lady Sarah Consuelo Spencer-Churchill
  49. Laura Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (1915–1990): 2nd wife of John Spencer-Churchill, 10th Duke of Marlborough
  50. Louis Auchincloss (1917–2010): husband of Adele Burden Lawrence
  51. Kenneth James William Mackay, 3rd Earl of Inchcape (1917–1994): 2nd husband of Aline Thorn Pease
  52. Orin Lehman (1920–2008): husband of Wendy Vanderbilt
  53. Edwin D. Morgan (1921–2001): 1st husband of Nancy Marie Whitney
  54. Charles Scribner IV (1921–1995): husband of Jeanette "Joan" Kissel Sunderland
  55. Stanley Schachter (1922–1997): husband of Sophia Duckworth
  56. Sidney Lumet (1924–2011): 3rd husband of Gloria Vanderbilt
  57. Marylou Whitney (1925–2019): 4th wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney
  58. Wyatt Emory Cooper (1927–1978): 4th husband of Gloria Vanderbilt
  59. Tina Onassis Niarchos (1929–1974): 2nd wife of John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough
  60. Mary Lee Ryan (1931–2017): wife of William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil; a first cousin of First Lady of the United States Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
  61. Rosalba Neri (born 1939): 3rd wife of Henry Cooke Cushing IV
  62. Rosita Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (born 1943): 3rd wife of John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough
  63. Amanda Burden (born 1944): 1st wife of Carter Burden
  64. Neil Balfour (born 1944): 3rd husband of Serena Mary Churchill Russell
  65. James Toback (born 1944): 1st husband of Consuelo Sarah Churchill Vanderbilt Russell
  66. David Rosengarten (born 1950): husband of Constance Crimmins Childs
  67. John Silvester Varley (born 1956): husband of Carolyn Thorn Pease
  68. Crispin Odey (born 1959): husband of Nichola Pease
  69. Edla Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (born 1968): 2nd wife of James Spencer-Churchill, 12th Duke of Marlborough
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Network

Associates

The following is a list of figures closely aligned with or subordinate to the Vanderbilt family.

Businesses

The following is a list of companies in which the Vanderbilt family have held a controlling or otherwise significant interest.

Philanthropy & Miscellaneous Nonprofit Organizations

Buildings, estates & historic sites

See also

  • Vanderbilt (surname)
  • Nate Archibald (Gossip Girl), fictional Vanderbilt descendant
  • Du Pont family
  • Rockefeller family
  • Rothschild family

References


Text submitted to CC-BY-SA license. Source: Vanderbilt family by Wikipedia (Historical)