Charles W. Harkness

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Charles W. Harkness
Charles W. Harkness.png
Born December 17, 1860
Monroeville, Ohio, US
Died May 1, 1916 (age 55)
New York City
Resting place Woodlawn Cemetery
Education Yale University (1883)
Occupation Business investor, heir
Spouse(s) Mary Warden (m. 1896)
Parent(s) Stephen V. Harkness
Anna M. Richardson

Charles William Harkness (December 17, 1860 – May 1, 1916)[1] was a son of Stephen V. Harkness, an original investor in the company that became Standard Oil, and his second wife, the former Anna M. Richardson.[2]

Early life[edit]

Charles was born in Monroeville, Ohio on December 17, 1860. His parents were Stephen V. Harkness (1818–1888) and the former Anna Marie Richardson (1837–1926), his father's second wife. He was the brother of Edward Harkness, noted philanthropist and half brother of Lamon V. Harkness. He was a cousin of William L. Harkness.[2]

His early education was in Cleveland at The Brooks Military Academy. He earned a B.A. from Yale College with the Class of 1883. While at Yale, he was described as "care-free, happy, irresponsible as the rest of us."[3]


On his father's death in 1888, Charles inherited stock in Standard Oil amounting to the second largest holding in the company, surpassed only by that of the Rockefeller family.[4] Harkness became a director at Standard Oil and was a director of the Southern Pacific Railway Company, the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and the Tilden Iron Mining Company, and managed his father's immense holdings.[5]

Harkness purchased the Henry Flagler townhouse at 685 Fifth Ave, New York and also owned a home in Madison, NJ and a winter home in St. Augustine, FL.[2]

Personal life[edit]

On May 27, 1896, Harkness married Miss Mary Warden in Philadelphia, PA. Mary was the daughter of William G. Warden who was an early Standard Oil partner.

Harkness fell seriously ill in fall 1915. After spending part of winter in St.Augustine at his wife's family home at Warden Castle, he returned home to New York, where he died May 1,1916.[2][6] Since he had no children, the large portion of his Standard Oil stock was left to his brother Edward S. Harkness.[4][7] One half his residual estate, his home in New York at 2 West 54th Street and his country home in Madison, NJ (designed by James Gamble Rogers who designed many Harkness buildings) were bequeathed to his wife Mary. He left $100,000 as a token of affection and esteem to his brother Lamon V. Harkness although Lamon had already died a year before Charles' death. Lamon had been quite wealthy in his own right from his inheritance from their father Stephen V. Harkness.[8]


Harkness Tower at Yale is named after Charles W. Harkness. Anna Harkness, his mother, donated $3,000,000 to build the Memorial Quadrangle of dormitories in his memory. Harkness Tower contains the Yale Memorial Carillon, a carillon of 54 bells, the largest of which is inscribed "In Memory of Charles W. Harkness, Class of 1883, Yale College."[3]

The Cleveland Museum of Art has a $100,000 permanent endowment known as the Charles W. Harkness Endowment Fund,[9] which was created through a donation from his widow, Mary Warden Harkness.[10]


  1. ^ "Chas. W. Harkness Left An Estate of $60,000,000". New York Times. 8 December 1916. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d "C. W. HARKNESS. OF STANDARD OIL, DIES; Third Largest Holder, with Brother, of Company's Stock a Victim of Apoplexy at 56. A DIRECTOR IN RAILWAYS Member of Many Clubs and Owner of the Yacht Agawa Was Educated for a Lawyer.". The New York Times. 2 May 1916. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Yale University, A History of the Yale Memorial Carillon
  4. ^ a b Forbes, America's Richest
  5. ^ [1] Case Western Reserve Society Annual Report - October, 1917
  6. ^ "C.W. HARKNESS LEFT $170,000,000 ESTATE; Standard Oil Holdings to Brother, Edward S., Make Him Third Largest Holder. $500,000 BEQUEST TO YALE Presbyterian Hospital Gets $350,000 ;- Widow and Brother Share Residuary Estate.". The New York Times. 9 May 1916. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  7. ^ Klein, Henry H. Dynastic America and Those Who Own It. ISBN 1-59605-671-1. 
  8. ^ [2] CW Harkness, New York Times Obituary May 9, 1916
  9. ^ The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, Vol. 15, No. 2, February 1928
  10. ^ "CHAS. W. HARKNESS LEFT AN ESTATE OF $60,000,000; Tax Appraisal Shows Oil Financier Was One of the World's Richest Men. UP $15,000,000 SINCE DEATH Began as a Young Man, Lately Out of School, with $1,500,000 Inherited from Father. HELD LITTLE REAL ESTATE Fortune Nearly All in Stocks and Bonds -- Died 15 Days Before State Tax Was Advanced. C.W. HARKNESS LEFT $60,000,000 ESTATE". The New York Times. 8 December 1916. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 

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