William Lukens Elkins
|William Lukens Elkins|
William Lukens Elkins, 1899
|Born||May 2, 1832
Wheeling, West Virginia
|Died||November 7, 1903
Elkins Estate, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania
|Laurel Hill Cemetery|
|Residence||Elkins Park, Pennsylvania|
|Occupation||Businessman, investor, art collector|
Board member of
|Philadelphia Rapid Transit Co., Pennsylvania Railroad Co., United Gas Improvement Co., Metropolitan Street Railway Co. of New York, Commercial Trust Company, Land Title & Trust Co., American Surety Company of New York, International Navigation Co., Philadelphia & Erie Co., Consolidated Traction Company of New Jersey, Edison Electric Light Co., Pennsylvania Globe Gas Light Co., Consolidated Traction Company of Pittsburgh, Continental Tobacco Company, Philadelphia Electric Co., Electric Company of America, Virginia & Charleston Railway Co., American Air Power Co., Electric Storage Battery Co., New England Gas & Coke Co., Asphalt Company of America|
|Spouse(s)||Maria Louise Broomall|
|Children||1) William Lukens Jr. (d. 1902)
2) Ida Amelia
4) George W.
William Lukens Elkins (May 2, 1832 - November 7, 1903) was an American businessman, inventor, and art collector.
Although his father was a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, William Elkins was born in Wheeling, West Virginia. He started his working life at a grocery store in Philadelphia where his family had returned to live. He next worked for a produce company and eventually formed a partnership with Peter Saybolt to operate their own produce business. By 1860 Elkins had bought out his partner and built the operation into the largest store of its kind in the United States.
Always looking for business opportunities, William Elkins soon recognized the potential for the usages of oil being pumped from the developing oilfields of Northwestern Pennsylvania and became a pioneer in the refining of crude oil. In Philadelphia he founded Monument Oil Works that built a primitive oil refinery which he constantly modernized and soon expanded into other locations. His company was the first to make gasoline and was involved in the production of asphalt. In 1875, the increasingly wealthy Elkins entered into a partnership with Standard Oil, becoming a significant shareholder in that oil giant.
In 1873, William Elkins first met Peter Widener and the two became trusted friends who would partner in street car and railway businesses that would expand to major cities across the United States and make them both enormously wealthy. A member of the Board of Directors of numerous enterprises in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, among his investments William Elkins held sizeable share positions in American Tobacco Company and International Mercantile Marine Co.
In 1858 William Elkins married Maria Louise Broomall with whom he had two daughters, Ida Ameila Elkins (Tyler) and Eleanor Elkins (Widener), and two sons, George W. Elkins and William L. Elkins, Jr. Ida Amelia married Sydney F. Tyler, bearing no children. Eleanor married George Dunton Widener, with whom she had three children, and lost her husband and elder son, Harry, in the April 12, 1912 sinking of RMS Titanic. George W. Elkins married Stella McIntire, and they had four children. One daughter, Stella, married George F. Tyler, and founded the Stella Elkins Tyler School of Art. The other daughter, Louise, married Wharton Sinkler.
William Elkins died at his summer home, at age seventy-one on November 7, 1903 in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. Among his philanthropic gifts, William Elkins left $240,000 to the Masonic Home for Girls in Philadelphia. He bequeathed his art collection to the city to be given following the death of his last heir.
In 1932 William H. Elkins, grandson of William L. Elkins, sold the Elkins Park property to the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine de' Ricci. The Sisters operated both buildings as a women’s religious retreat and preserved the grounds and historical integrity of the buildings. Thousands of women and men attended retreats, days of prayer and other spiritual programs for 75 years. In February, 2009, the Dominican Sisters sold the property to the Land Conservancy of Elkins Park, PA. who intended to use the facility for wellness retreats and hosted events. The property was reopened as Elkins Estate and has hosted a number of wedding receptions and events. In November, 2010, Land Conservancy of Elkins Park filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Dominican congregation foreclosed on the property, since they held the mortgage. The property is in bankruptcy reorganization as of December, 2010.
- "William L. Elkins Dead." New York Times. November 8, 1903.
- New York Times - May 6, 1899 article titled "Chicago Roads Change Hands"
- New York Times - November 15, 1903 article titled "Will of William L. Elkins"