C. Ledyard Blair
|Clinton Ledyard Blair|
July 16, 1867|
Belvidere, New Jersey, United States
|Died||February 7, 1949(aged 81)|
Blair was the grandson of John Insley Blair, one of the wealthiest men of the 19th century, and the son of DeWitt Clinton Blair and Mary Anna Kimball Blair. Born in Belvidere, New Jersey, he attended the Lawrenceville School and then Princeton University, graduating in 1890 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He married Florence Osborne Jennings on October 1, 1891, and they had four daughters: Marjory Bruce, Florence Ledyard, Edith Dodd, and Marie Louise.
While still a senior at Princeton, Blair joined his father and grandfather in founding the banking firm of Blair & Company, primarily to manage railroad interests linked to the Gould family. The firm underwrote a $50 million bond issue of the Western Pacific Railroad and helped in the financial management of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad and the Western Maryland Railroad.
After Blair & Company merged with the firm of William Salomon & Co. in April 1920 (under the name of Blair & Co., Inc.), Ledyard Blair was named chairman of the board of directors. He was also the director of several railway companies, including the Clinchfield Railroad, the Sussex Railroad, and the Green Bay and Western Railroad. Blair & Co. was active in assisting with the mergers of oil companies. In 1924-1925, the firm arranged a deal in which Standard Oil of Indiana obtained control of the Pan American Petroleum and Transport Company and Lago Petroleum Company in Venezuela.
An avid yachtsman, Blair was named Commodore of the New York Yacht Club in 1910. During World War I, he turned over his 254-foot steel yacht, Diana, to the U.S. government and gave up yachting. At the outbreak of the war in 1914, Blair was on the SS Kronprinzessin Cecilie, a North German Lloyd ocean liner, sailing from New York City to Plymouth, England. Nearing Plymouth, news of hostilities forced the ship to turn back. Blair took the helm and safely piloted the ship to Bar Harbor, Maine, where his family had a summer home. The ship was carrying $10 million in gold and $3.5 million in silver.
Blairsden, Ledyard Blair's opulent 38-room mansion in Peapack-Gladstone, New Jersey, was built between 1898 and 1903. Lavish weddings for the Blair daughters were held at Blairsden: Marjory Blair to William Clark (September 20, 1913), Florence Blair to H. Rivington Pyne (June 16, 1916), Edith Blair to Richard Gambrill (June 21, 1917), and Marie Louise Blair to Pierpont M. Hamilton (September 11, 1919). He also owned a mansion in New York City, now known as C. Ledyard Blair House.
Blair's first wife Florence died on November 15, 1931, and in 1936 he married Harriet Stewart Brown, widow of T. Suffern Tailer and daughter of Baltimore banker Alexander Brown. In addition to Blairsden, they entertained at their residences in Newport, Rhode Island (Honeysuckle Lodge) and Bermuda (Deepdene).
- Scannell's New Jersey First Citizens, 1917-1918. J.J. Scannell, 1918.
- "C. Ledyard Blair, Banker, 82, Dead".The New York Times, February 8, 1949. Accessed March 12, 2008.
- Swaine 1946, p. 433.
- Schleicher, William A. and Susan Winter. In the Somerset Hills: The Landed Gentry. Arcadia, 1997.
- Blairsden from Historical Society of Sommerset Hills