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Elliott Shepard

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Elliott Fitch Shepard Jr.
Born(1876-10-13)October 13, 1876
DiedAugust 10, 1927(1927-08-10) (aged 50)
EducationWestminster School
Yale University
Alma materHarvard University
Esther Potter
(m. 1897; div. 1902)
Eleanor Leigh Terradell
(after 1902)
Parent(s)Elliott Fitch Shepard
Margaret Louisa Vanderbilt
RelativesSee Vanderbilt family

Elliott Fitch Shepard Jr. (October 13, 1876 – April 10, 1927) was an American racing driver, who competed in several early motor races. In World War I, he volunteered to treat the wounded, and was awarded the Knight of the Legion de Honneur, the Croix de Guerre and the American Field Service Medal.

Early life[edit]

Shepard was born in New York City on October 13, 1876. His parents were Elliott Fitch Shepard (1833–1893), a prominent lawyer and banker, and Margaret Louisa Vanderbilt Shepard (1845–1924),[1] eldest daughter of William Henry Vanderbilt and Maria Louisa Kissam.[2]

Shepard was educated at Westminster School in Simsbury, Connecticut, and started at Yale University in 1895.[2] In 1896, he was almost expelled in his freshman year for bringing three drunk women to his dormitory.[3] He stated that he didn't want to abandon the women, who became ill, and that they were allowed entrance to his dormitory based on that. He resigned from the school the following day.[4] He later studied at Harvard University.[5]


Following his divorce in 1902, Shepard again returned to Paris, living at 244 rue de Rivoli.[2] He made several more attempts as opening businesses, all of which were again unsuccessful.[6][7]

On April 27, 1905, Shepard knocked down and killed a 12-year-old girl, Madeline Marduel. A trial followed, and on October 26 the judge sentenced Shepard to three months imprisonment, a $120 fine and he was ordered to pay $4,000 in damages to the girl's parents.[8] Shepard appealed the decision, and the case was eventually settled in January 1907, with a reduced sentence of six weeks imprisonment. After nine days in Fresnes prison, Shepard was pardoned after paying a further $2,000.[9]


In the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup, a race started in 1904 by his cousin, William Kissam Vanderbilt II, Shepard lost control of his Hotchkiss HH car and hit two spectators who were killed in the incident.[10] Unaware of what had happened, Shepard continued until reaching the service area at East Norwich. Here he was informed by his mechanic that his car may have collided with someone, and a telephone call to the race organisers confirmed what had happened. Upon hearing this, Shepard withdrew from the event.

In 1907,[11] Shepard was injured when he drove into a river in Monte Chiarl after a tire on his car became detached and sent the car bouncing over the bridge railing moving a further five yards into the river. He broke his collarbone with other slight injuries to his body.[12]

World War I[edit]

During World War I, Shepard worked in a hospital for American volunteers for the French army in Chantilly, France. His work helped him to receive the Knight of the Legion de Honneur, the Croix de Guerre and the American Field Service Medal.[5] He gave up his estate in Chantilly for those sick or wounded in the American Field Service.[13] He served as president of the organization and chairman of its Paris Branch.[14]

Personal life[edit]

On April 10, 1897, Shepard married Esther Potter, a 25-year-old widow, in a civic marriage.[15] A religious ceremony followed at the insistence of Shepard's mother, after which the newlyweds left for Europe. Shepard went into business in Paris, but was unsuccessful. He briefly returned to the US with his wife, but they separated and in August 1902, she filed for absolute divorce.[16]

Shepard later married Eleanor Leigh Terradell (1882–1962), daughter of Thomas Terradell. Her sister, Mercedes Terradell was married to Prof. Jean Labatut in 1929.[17] During the War, they turned their home in Chantilly, France into a convalescence hospital.[18]

Shepard died on April 10, 1927, at his Miami beach estate, after a long illness.[19][20]


  1. ^ "MRS. SHEPARD OF A HEART ATTACK; Daughter of tho Late William Vanderbilt Succumbs Suddenly in Fifth Avenue Apartment, WAS IN HER 79TH YEAR Had Attended the Wedding of Her Granddaughter, Louise Schleffelin, on Saturday". The New York Times. 4 March 1924. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Secretary's Fourth Report, Harvard College Class of 1899. Harvard University. June 1914. p. 411. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  3. ^ "Elliott Shepard Fired". The World. February 15, 1895. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  4. ^ "Too Gay Was Young Mr. Shepard".
  5. ^ a b "Eliott Shepard Jr". Vanderbilt Cup Races. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
  6. ^ "E.F. SHEPARD'S FUTURE.; HE AND HIS BRIDE WILL GO TO EUROPE THIS WEEK. Later He Proposes to Practice Law in This City – The Condition of His Fortune – How He Met His Wife". The New York Times. 13 April 1897. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  7. ^ "PLEAD FOR E.F. SHEPARD.; Friends Ask Intervention for New York Man Sentenced in Paris". The New York Times. 31 October 1905. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  8. ^ "FRENCH JUDGE SENDS E.F. SHEPARD TO JAIL; Automobile of W.H. Vanderbilt's Grandson Killed a Girl. DAMAGES OF $4,000 IMPOSED Shepard to Appeal – His Counsel Say He Is Being Made a Scapegoat – Imprisonment Postponed". The New York Times. 27 October 1905. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  9. ^ "E.F. SHEPARD PARDONED.; Spent 9 Days in French Jail and Paid $2,000 More for Fatal Auto Accident". The New York Times. January 18, 1907. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  10. ^ Kurczewski, Nick (October 3, 2004). "When Gentlemen First Started Their Engines". The New York Times. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
  11. ^ "E.F. SHEPARD HURT IN AUTO CUP RACE; His Collarbone Broken – Tire Slips and Machine Goes Into the River. HE LED IN FIRST CIRCUIT Cagno Wins Race at Brescia After Being Among the Last of the Contestants in the Early Stages". The New York Times. 3 September 1907. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  12. ^ "Italian Captures Auto Road Race – American Driver Injured". Boston Evening Transcript. September 3, 1907. p. 12.
  13. ^ https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1917/09/05/96265453.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  14. ^ "American Field Service Bulletin, Number Two, July, 1920". Archived from the original on 2018-06-14. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  15. ^ "ELLIOTT F. SHEPARD WEDS.; The Bride is Mrs. Esther Potter, a Widow – Ceremony Performed by Dr. John Hall". The New York Times. 11 April 1897. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  16. ^ "ELLIOTT F. SHEPARD SUED FOR DIVORCE; His Marriage with Mrs. Esther Potter Caused Surprise in 1897. They Returned from Prolonged Residence Abroad After He Had Been Unsuccessful in Business in Paris". The New York Times. 13 August 1902. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  17. ^ "MERCEDES TERRADELL TO WED PROF. LABATUT; Engagement Is Announced by Mrs. Elliott F. Shepard, Bride-Elect's Sister". The New York Times. 24 May 1929. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  18. ^ "Elliott Shepard 13/10/1876 – 10/4/1927". www.historicracing.com. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  19. ^ "Sportsman Dies at Florida Estate". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Vol. 84, no. 101. April 11, 1927. p. 1. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  20. ^ "DIED. SHEPARD, Elliott Fitch". The New York Times. 13 April 1927. Retrieved 18 January 2018.

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