Cornelius Vanderbilt II
Cornelius Vanderbilt II
Portrait of Vanderbilt by John Singer Sargent
|Born||November 11, 1843|
Staten Island, New York, U.S.
|Died||August 28, 1899 (aged 55)|
|Employer||New York Central Railroad|
Alice Claypoole Gwynne
(m. 1867; his death 1899)
|Children||Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt|
William Henry Vanderbilt II
Cornelius Vanderbilt III
Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt
Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt
Gladys Moore Vanderbilt
|Parent(s)||William Henry Vanderbilt|
Maria Louisa Kissam
|Relatives||See Vanderbilt family|
Cornelius Vanderbilt II (November 11, 1843 – August 28, 1899) was an American socialite, heir, businessman, and a member of the prominent United States Vanderbilt family. He was the favorite grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who bequeathed him $5 million, and the eldest son of William Henry "Billy" Vanderbilt (who bequeathed him about $70 million) and Maria Louisa Kissam. In his turn he succeeded them as head of the New York Central and related railroad lines in 1885.
His youngest brother, George Washington Vanderbilt II, commissioned Richard Morris Hunt to design and build Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. It was built between 1889 and 1895, and is still owned by Vanderbilt's descendants.
Vanderbilt established a reputation for a strong work ethic while clerking at the Shoe and Leather Bank in New York City. This endeared him to his grandfather, the 'Commodore', who was a strong believer in personal industry.
On February 4, 1867, he married Alice Claypoole Gwynne (1845–1934), daughter of Abraham Evan Gwynne and Rachel Moore Flagg. The two met at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church where both taught Sunday School.
Together, they had:
- Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt (1869–1874), was born in 1869 but died of a childhood illness in 1874 at the age of five.
- William Henry Vanderbilt II (1870–1892) died of typhoid fever while attending Yale University.
- Cornelius "Neily" Vanderbilt III (1873–1942), whom he disinherited for marrying Grace Graham Wilson (1870–1953) without his approval.
- Gertrude Vanderbilt (1875–1942), who married Harry Payne Whitney (1872–1930)
- Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt (1877–1915), who died aboard the RMS Lusitania, and who married Ellen French, and after their divorce, Margaret Emerson (1884–1960).
- Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt (1880–1925), who first married society debutante Cathleen Neilson, and later Gloria Morgan.
- Gladys Moore Vanderbilt (1886–1965), who married Count László Széchenyi (1879–1938).
A stroke in 1896 compelled him to reduce his active business involvement. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage on September 12, 1899 a few minutes after 6 o'clock AM, at his home, West Fifty-seventh Street, in Manhattan, New York City. On his death in 1899, family leadership passed to his first brother, William Kissam Vanderbilt. His philanthropy had been such that he did not increase the wealth that had been left to him. His estate at the time of his death was appraised at $72,999,867, $20 million of which was real estate. $73 million is equivalent to $2.15 billion in 2017 dollars.
Through his son, Reginald, he was the grandfather of Cathleen Vanderbilt, Gloria Laura Vanderbilt, the socialite and fashion designer, and the great-grandfather of news anchor Anderson Hays Cooper and his late brother, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper.
The Fifth Avenue mansions he, his brothers, and his sons lived in have been demolished, but the Newport, Rhode Island vacation home he built, The Breakers, still stands as a memory of his lifestyle.
- "MR. CORNELIUS VANDERBILT DEAD; Succumbed Suddenly Yesterday to Cerebral Hemorrhage. DUE TO STROKE OF PARALYSIS Wife and Daughter Gladys Only Members of His Family With Him. He Had Come to This City on Monday from Newport to Attend a Railroad Meeting -- Funeral Services to be Held on Friday". The New York Times. 13 September 1899. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
- Vanderbilt, 173-185.
- "Wm. H. Vanderbilt Dead. He is Prostrated by Paralysis While Talking to Robert Jarrett, President of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and Dies Without Speaking. His Vast Wealth Estimated at Two Hundred Millions". The Washington Post. December 9, 1885. Retrieved 2008-08-01.
William H. Vanderbilt died at his residence in this city, of paralysis, at half-past two o'clock this afternoon. He arose this morning at his usual hour, and at breakfast served to the members of the family, most of whom were present, he appeared to be in his usual health and in a more than usually happy frame of mind.
- Vanderbilt, 177-9.
- "Mrs. Vanderbilt Sr. Dies In Home At 89. Widow Of Financier, Long Ill. Was A Leader In Brilliant Era Of New York Society". The New York Times. April 23, 1934.
- "Gen. C. Vanderbilt Dies On His Yacht. Great-Grandson and Namesake of Commodore Succumbs in Miami to Brain Hemorrhage. Family With Him At End. He Won Distinction as Soldier, Inventor, Engineer, Yachtsman. Often Host to Royalty". The New York Times. Associated Press. March 2, 1942.
- Times Wide World (27 October 1930). "H.P. WHITNEY DIES AT 58 OF PNEUMONIA; ILL ONLY A FEW DAYS; Sportsman and Financier Succumbs Unexpectedly at HisFifth Avenue Home.CAUGHT COLD ON TUESDAY His Wife, the Former GertrudeVanderbilt, and Their ThreeChildren at Bedside.HE INHERITED A FORTUNE Built Up Vast Properties and Became One of Nation's Richest Men-- Famed for Racing Stables. One of America's Richest Men. H.P. WHITNEY DIES AT 58 OF PNEUMONIA Heir to Wealth and Prestige. Guggenheim Guided His Start. Known Also as Dog Fancier. Many Concerns Now Merged". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- Homans, James E., ed. (1918). "Vanderbilt, Alfred Gwynne". The Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: The Press Association Compilers, Inc.
- "Reginald Vanderbilt Dies Suddenly Today". The Meridien Daily Journal. 4 September 1925. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
- Times, Special To The New York (4 October 1907). "MISS VANDERBILT WILL WED A COUNT; Gladys, Youngest Daughter of Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt, the Financee of Laszlo Szechenyi. HUNGARIAN HERE FOR BRIDE Young Court Chamberlain Is a Guest at the Breakers, Newport -- Betrothal Made in Europe Last Summer". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
- "C. Vanderbilt's Personal Estate" (PDF). The New York Times. December 12, 1900. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
- Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1900). "Vanderbilt, Cornelius, capitalist". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton. For vital data.
- Vanderbilt, Arthur T., II (1989). Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt. New York: Morrow. ISBN 0-688-07279-8.