Henry Astor

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Henry Astor III c. 1875

Members of the Astor family named Henry:

1. Henry Astor I (born Heinrich Astor) (1754–1833), elder brother of fur-trader John Jacob Astor

Born in Walldorf, near Heidelberg, second son of butcher Johann Jacob Astor and Maria Magdalena Vorfelder. Henry's primary venture was a butcher shop (in 1776) on the Bowery in Manhattan, from which, along with other investments he was able to establish sizeable wealth. Henry I was also a horse racing enthusiast, and purchased a thoroughbred named Messenger, who had been brought from England to America in 1788. The horse became the founding sire of all Standardbred horses in the United States today. He and his wife Dorothea died childless and gave his fortune to his nephew William Backhouse Astor, Sr. in his will.

2. Henry Astor II (1797–1799), third son of John Jacob Astor

Younger brother of occasional poet John Jacob Astor, Jr. and businessman William Backhouse Astor, Sr., Henry II died young

3. Henry Astor III (July 4, 1830 – June 7, 1918), youngest son of William Backhouse Astor, Sr.

Brother of financier/philanthropist John Jacob Astor III and businessman/racehorse owner-breeder William Backhouse Astor, Jr., Henry III married Malvina Dinehart (November 4, 1844 – August 4, 1918) of Red Hook, New York in 1871. The match with Ms. Dinehart, whose father is variously described as the head farmer or the gardener for the Astor family farm in Red Hook (which Henry III managed), was considered socially unacceptable. Henry III was estranged from his father, brothers, and all but one of his sisters as a result. His reputed disinheritance for falling in love with a poor woman became a celebrated scandal in New York society. He withdrew from New York society to live the quiet life of a gentleman farmer with his new wife in a house he designed himself in West Copake, New York (Sometimes referred to in his time as Astorville.) Shortly before his death it became public knowledge that, although substantially reduced from a full share, his inheritance still put him among the richest men in the United States. Henry III and Malvina were childless and his fortune reverted to his siblings and their issue upon his death, although his wife was guaranteed the interest from one-third of the estate for the remainder of her life.

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