William Kissam VANDERBILT

Family tree of William Kissam VANDERBILT

Industrialist, Businessman

AmericanBorn William Kissam VANDERBILT

Railroads manager and a horse breeder

Born on December 12, 1849 in Staten Island, New York, USA , United States

Died on July 22, 1920 in Paris, France

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The second son of William Henry Vanderbilt, from whom he inherited $55 million, and grandson of "The Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, William Kissam Vanderbilt was for a time active in the management of the family railroads, though not much after 1903. His sons, William Kissam Vanderbilt II (1878–1944) and Harold Stirling Vanderbilt (1884–1970), were the last to be active in the railroads, the latter losing a proxy battle for the New York Central Railroad in the 1950s.

In 1879 after taking over P.T. Barnum's Great Roman Hippodrome which was on railroad property by Madison Square Park he renamed the facility Madison Square Garden.


Vanderbilt's first wife was Alva Erskine Smith (1853–1933), whom he married on April 20, 1875. Born in 1853, in Mobile, Alabama to a merchant father whose extended family owned a small plantation, she was the mother of his children and was instrumental in forcing their daughter Consuelo (1877–1964) to marry the 9th Duke of Marlborough in 1895. Not long after this, the Vanderbilts divorced and Alva married Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont.

In 1903, Vanderbilt married Anne Harriman, daughter of banker Oliver Harriman. She was a widow to sportsman Samuel Stevens Sands and to Lewis Morris Rutherfurd, Jr., son of the astronomer Lewis Morris Rutherfurd. Her second husband died in Switzerland in 1901. She had two sons by her first marriage and two daughters by her second marriage. She had no children by Vanderbilt.

After the death of his brother, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, in 1899, Vanderbilt was generally regarded as head of the Vanderbilt family.

Like other Vanderbilts, he built magnificent houses. His homes included Idle Hour (1900) on Long Island and Marble House (1892), designed by Richard Morris Hunt, in Newport, Rhode Island. Hunt also designed Vanderbilt's 660 Fifth Avenue mansion (1883).

Vanderbilt was a co-owner of the yacht Defender, which won the 1895 America's Cup. Vanderbilt was a founder and president of the New Theatre.

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Geographical origins

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