Cornelius Vanderbilt III
|Cornelius Vanderbilt III|
Vanderbilt III c. 1910–1915
September 5, 1873|
New York City
|Died||March 1, 1942
Miami Beach, Florida
|Cause of death||Cerebral hemorrhage|
|Resting place||Moravian Cemetery|
|Residence||640 Fifth Avenue|
|Other names||Neily Vanderbilt|
|Education||St. Paul's School
|Spouse(s)||Grace Graham Wilson|
|Children||Cornelius Vanderbilt IV
|Parents||Cornelius Vanderbilt III
Alice Claypoole Gwynne
Cornelius "Neily" Vanderbilt III (September 5, 1873 – March 1, 1942) was a distinguished American military officer, inventor, engineer, and yachtsman, and a member of the prominent American Vanderbilt family.
He was born in New York City on September 5, 1873 to Cornelius Vanderbilt II and Alice Claypoole Gwynne. He was educated by private tutors at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire before attending Yale University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1895. Against his father's wishes, in August 1896 he married Grace Graham Wilson, the youngest child of New York banker Richard Thornton Wilson, Sr. and Melissa Clementine Johnston. Remaining at Yale until 1899, he earned a Bachelor of Philosophy degree and, having a great deal of interest in the mechanical and engineering aspects of his family’s railroad business, he also earned a degree in mechanical engineering.
Upon his father's death in 1899 Neily received only $500,000 in cash and the income from a $1 million trust fund. The bulk of his father's $70 million estate went to Neily's brother, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt I, who then helped Neily by giving him $6 million. However, as a result of his parents' attitude towards his marriage, it would be 27 years after his father's death before he finally reconciled with his aging mother. Neily and Grace remained married for the rest of their lives and had two children, Cornelius IV (1898–1974), who would marry seven times, and a daughter, Grace (September 25, 1899 - January 28, 1964).
Neily Vanderbilt was an inveterate tinkerer with all things mechanical and during his lifetime he patented more than thirty inventions for improving locomotives and freight cars, including several which brought him a significant royalty income. Some of the most important were a corrugated firebox for locomotives that resulted in a substantial increase in fuel efficiency plus a cylindrical styled tank car for the transport of bulk oil as well as a revolutionary type of locomotive tender. In addition, on his travels to London and Paris he saw the potential for adapting their subway systems for New York City and partnered with August Belmont, Jr. to establish the Interborough Rapid Transit Company for the construction of the city's first subway.
In 1901, he was made a Second Lieutenant in the Twelfth Infantry Regiment of the New York National Guard and remained a member of the military for 33 years. He fought in the border wars with Mexico in 1916, and in World War I served overseas as commander of the 102nd Engineers. Rising through the ranks to Brigadier General, he was placed in command of the 25th Infantry Brigade.
For his services during the War, he was decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal by the government of the United States, the New York State Conspicuous Service Medal, made a commander of the Order of the Crown from Belgium and awarded that country's Croix de Guerre. The government of France invested him as a Commander of the Legion of Honor.
Post War Life
Following the First World War, Vanderbilt and his wife frequently returned to Europe, becoming friends and guests of numerous members of European royalty including former Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, and his brother, Prince Henry of Prussia, King Albert I of Belgium, Crown Prince Olav of Norway, Queen Marie of Romania, Reza Pahlavi of Iran, and every British monarch since Queen Victoria.
As with other members of the Vanderbilt family, yachting was one of Neily Vanderbilt's favorite pastimes as an escape from a busy life that included a seat on the Board of Directors of a number of major American corporations. He was a member of the nine member syndicate which built the yacht Reliance for the successful defense of the America's Cup in 1903. He was commodore of the New York Yacht Club from 1906 to 1909. In 1910, he piloted his 65 foot sloop Aurora to victory in the New York Yacht Club's race for the King Edward VII Cup in Newport, RI.
In 1940, he sold the mansion he inherited in 1914 from his uncle George Washington Vanderbilt, located at 640 Fifth Avenue in New York City, to members of the Astor family. The family retained occupancy of the house there three years after his death from a cerebral hemorrhage while vacationing in Miami Beach, Florida aboard his yacht in 1942. The mansion, built in 1880 by William Henry Vanderbilt, was originally one of two sharing that block designed with identical exteriors and together known as the "Twin Mansions." Neily's wife Grace lived there until 1944 when she moved to 1048 Fifth Avenue, now housing the Neuegalerie Museum. She died on January 7, 1953. They are buried together in the Vanderbilt family mausoleum in the Moravian Cemetery in New Dorp on Staten Island, New York.
|Ancestors of Cornelius Vanderbilt III|
- Vanderbilt, Arthur T., II (1989). Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt. New York: Morrow. ISBN 0-688-07279-8.
- New York Times. April 29, 1903.
- New York Times. August 13, 1910.
- Stuart, Amanda (2006). Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Daughter and a Mother in the Gilded Age. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-621418-1.
- Vanderbilt, Cornelius, Jr.I (1956). Queen Of Golden Age: The Fabulous Story Of Grace Wilson Vanderbilt. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 1-258-03824-2.