James Ben Ali Haggin

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James B. A. Haggin
James Ben Ali Haggin.jpg
James Ben Ali Haggin
Born December 9, 1822
Harrodsburg, Kentucky,
United States
Died September 13, 1914
Newport, Rhode Island,
United States
Resting place Calvary Cemetery, Lexington, Kentucky
Residence Villa Rosa, Newport, Rhode Island
Education Centre College
Occupation Lawyer, Rancher, Investor, Racehorse owner/breeder
Known for Rancho Del Paso, Elmendorf Farm
Spouse(s) 1) Eliza Jane Sanders (m. 1846)
2) Margaret Pearl Voorhies (m. 1897)
Children with Eliza Jane Sanders:
1) Louis Terah
2) James Ben Ali, Jr.
3) Margaret Sanders
4) Adeline Ben Ali
5) Edith Hunter
Parent(s) Terah Temple Haggin & Adeline Ben Ali

James Ben Ali Haggin (December 9, 1822 – September 13, 1914) was an American attorney, rancher, investor and a major owner/breeder in the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing.[1] Haggin made a fortune in the aftermath of the gold rush and was a multi-millionaire by 1880.[2]


Haggin was born in Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky, a descendant of one of the state's pioneer families who had settled there in 1775 and a descendant of Ibrahim Ben Ali, who was an early American settler of Turkish origin.[3][4][5] He graduated from Centre College at Danville, Kentucky then entered the practice of law.

On December 28, 1846, James Ben Ali Haggin married Eliza Jane Sanders of Natchez, Mississippi with whom he had five children. She died in 1893 and on December 30, 1897 the seventy-five-year-old Haggin married twenty-eight-year-old Margaret Pearl Voorhies at her stepfather's residence in Versailles, Kentucky. Miss Voorhies was a niece of his first wife.[6]

In October 1850 he joined a recent acquaintance, Lloyd Tevis, in opening a law office in Sacramento. They moved to San Francisco in 1853. He built a large and impressive Nob Hill mansion on the east side of Taylor Street between Clay and Washington streets, which stood until the earthquake and fire of 1906. Haggin and Tevis married sisters, daughters of Colonel Lewis Sanders, a Kentuckian who had emigrated to California. Haggin and Tevis acquired the Rancho Del Paso land grant near Sacramento. The two invested in the mining business with George Hearst as one of their partners. Hearst, Haggin, Tevis and Co. became one of the largest mining companies in the United States; its operations included the Anaconda Copper Mine in Montana, the Ontario silver mine in Park City, Utah, and the Homestake Mine in South Dakota.

Thoroughbred racing[edit]

James B. A. Haggin owned the Rancho Del Paso horse farm near Sacramento, California which he stopped using as a horse breeding farm in 1905 [7] and concentrated his breeding efforts at Elmendorf Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. Haggin acquired Elmendorf in 1897 and until his death in 1914, he undertook to develop it into the largest horse breeding operation in the United States of its era.

He is the namesake of the Ben Ali Stakes as well as Mt. Haggin (10,607 ft / 3,233 m) near the town of Anaconda in Southwestern Montana.

Railroad and power plant[edit]

See: William K. Boone

Personal life[edit]

Haggin was the eldest of eight children of Terah Temple and Adeline (Ben Ali) Haggin, the daughter of Ibrahim Ben Ali, a Turkish army officer.[8]

In 1846 Haggin married Eliza Jane Sanders; they had two sons and three daughters.[8]

In 1897 Haggin married Margaret ("Pearl") Voorhies of Versailles, Kentucky.[8]

Haggin died September 12, 1914, at his Newport, Rhode Island, residence and was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in New York.[8]

His grandson, James Ben Ali Haggin III, was a portrait painter and stage designer.


  1. ^ New York Times - September 13, 1914 obituary for James B. A. Haggin
  2. ^ Kleber, John E. (1992). The Kentucky Encyclopedia. University Press of Kentucky. p. 397. ISBN 0-8131-1772-0. 
  3. ^ J.S. Clarke. "History". Linda Haggin Peck. Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  4. ^ Brackney, Peter Brackney (2014). Lost Lexington, Kentucky. The History Press. p. 106. ISBN 1625851286. Retrieved 11 September 2015. 
  5. ^ Clarke, Adam; Jones, William (1834). Memoirs of the life, ministry, and writings of the Rev. Adam Clarke, LL.D. The British Library. p. 184. Retrieved 11 September 2015. 
  6. ^ New York Times - December 31, 1897
  7. ^ New York Times - October 8, 1905 article titled "The Passing of Rancho Del Paso"
  8. ^ a b c d Kleber, John E. (1992). The Kentucky Encyclopedia. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 397–398. ISBN 0-8131-1772-0. 

External links[edit]


Sergent, Amber Fogle (2012). "The Pastime of Millions": James B. Haggin's Elmendorf Farm and the Commercialization of Pedigree Animal Breeding, 1897-1920 (Ph.D.). University of Kentucky, UKnowledge Theses and Dissertations - History, Paper 6.