Anson Phelps Stokes

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For other people named Anson Phelps Stokes, see Anson Phelps Stokes (disambiguation).
Anson Phelps Stokes
Anson Phelps Stokes 1898.jpg
Mr and Mrs Anson Phelps Stokes, about 1898.
Born (1838-02-22)February 22, 1838
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died June 29, 1913(1913-06-29) (aged 75)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation merchant, banker, publicist, philanthropist,
Known for Founder of American Bible Society, the American Tract Society and the American Peace Society.

Anson Phelps Stokes (February 22, 1838 – June 28, 1913) was an American merchant, banker, publicist, philanthropist, and became a multimillionaire. Born in New York City, he was the son of James Boulter and Caroline (Phelps) Stokes; brother of William Earl Dodge Stokes and Olivia Eggleston Phelps Stokes. One of his grandfathers was London merchant Thomas Stokes, one of the 13 founders of the London Missionary Society, and Anson Stokes later actively supported the American Bible Society, the American Tract Society and the American Peace Society. His other grandfather, Anson Greene Phelps, was a New York merchant, born in Connecticut and descended from an old Massachusetts family.[1]


As a boy he started his career working in the family business, Phelps, Dodge & Company, a mercantile establishment founded by his grandfather Phelps[1] and his uncle, William Earle Dodge, in the 1830s.[2] The company began importing and trading in metal and eventually became a mining business.

In 1861, he became a partner and also a member of the firm of Phelps, James & Company in Liverpool. In 1879, he organized Phelps, Stokes & Company, a bank.[1]

Phelps became involved in the mining interests of Phelps Dodge Corporation in the American West. In 1874 the Nevada legislature, after a bitter debate, approved a bond project to extend a railroad line to Austin, Nevada (the state senator sponsoring the bill was secretary for a mining company that needed the rail line). The legislature authorized Lander County to grant a $200,000 bond for the project, but the authorization would expire after five years. It was not until after Stokes came to Austin that the project got started 4½ years later. Stokes brought in General James H. Ledlie, a former Union officer in the Civil War, to direct the project, and crews went to work desperately, only to bring the line within 2 miles (3.2 km) of the Austin town limits with less than a day left before the deadline. An emergency meeting of the Austin Town Board extended the town limits by 2 miles (3.2 km), allowing the last rails to be laid just minutes before the deadline. The 92 miles (148 km) line from Battle Mountain to Austin became the Nevada Central Railroad.[3]

On Feb 25th, 1880 Phelps was appointed a Director of the Nevada Central Railroad.[4]

In 1897, when Stokes still had a financial interest in several of the local mines, he built "Stokes Castle", a three-story stone tower just outside of Austin. The building was only occupied for a month, then fell into disrepair.


Shadowbrook in 1908 in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Stokes married Helen Louisa, daughter of Isaac Newton Phelps, on October 17, 1865.[1] In 1893, he built Shadowbrook, a 100 room Berkshire Cottage at Lenox, Massachusetts. Shadowbrook was so large that a family anecdote tells of Anson Phelps Stokes Jr. being told by his mother while playing outside one day that because there was a storm gathering he should come inside and bicycle in the attic. In 1902, Stokes bought land at the southern tip of Long Neck, a small peninsula in Darien, Connecticut and built Brick House, where he and his family lived for many years.[5] (Andrew Carnegie occupied Brick House for several summers,[5] and in 1917 he bought Anson Phelps' estate Shadowbrook, where he died in 1919.) The Stokes family also had a summer house, or Great Camp, on Upper St. Regis Lake in the Adirondacks,[6] where family members spend their summers to this day.

Anson lost one of his legs 15 years previously in a horse-riding accident, when he was thrown against a tree and his leg crushed.[1] At his death on June 29, 1913, in New York City, Anson Stokes was survived by nine children: four sons and five daughters. His sons include Anson Phelps Stokes (1874–1958), an educator and clergyman,[1] architect Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes, and noted socialist James Graham Phelps Stokes.

His personal wealth was estimated at USD $25,000,000 at the time of his death, or about USD$ 596,548,822 in today's dollars.[7] However, when his estate was settled, a month after his death, it was reported that the actual value of his estate was between $500,000 and $750,000 (about USD$ 17,896,465 in today's dollars. [8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Grandfather, Father, & Son / The Three Anson Phelps Stokes: Anglo-American Philanthropists". Retrieved 2007-03-05. 
  2. ^ "Ansonia (TIME magazine)". Time. May 25, 1929. Retrieved 2007-03-05. 
  3. ^ Myrick, David F., Railroads Of Nevada Volume 1, Howell-North Books, 1962
  4. ^ Keith Tower in possession of original hand written Certificate of Election & Oath of Office as Director of Nevada Central Railway
  5. ^ a b Case, Henry J. and Cooper, Simon W., Town of Darien: Founded 1641 Incorporated 1820, published by the Darien Community Association, 1935
  6. ^ Kaiser, Harvey H., Great Camps of the Adirondacks, Boston: David R Godine, 1982.
  7. ^ "A. P. STOKES IS DEAD AT HIS CITY HOME". New York Times. June 29, 1913. Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  8. ^ "Stokes Estate of $750,000 Goes to His Family". New Evening Telegram. August 2, 1913. Retrieved 2012-12-17. 

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