Lamon V. Harkness

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Lamon V. Harkness
Lamon V. Harkness.png
Lamon V. Harkness
Born Jan 6, 1850
Bellevue, Ohio
Died January 17, 1915
Resting place Woodlawn Cemetery
Residence New York City
Occupation Businessman
Children Harry S. (1877-1919)
Parent(s) Stephen V. Harkness
Laura Osborne

Lamon Vanderburgh Harkness (January 6, 1850 – January 17, 1915) was an American businessman and one of the largest stockholders in Standard Oil . Lamon V. Harkness became involved with Standard Oil through his father Stephen V. Harkness who was a primary silent investor in the formation of Standard Oil.


Born in Bellevue, Ohio, he was the son of Stephen V. Harkness and his first wife, Laura Osborne. He lived in Bellevue until 1860 when they moved to Monroeville, OH. In 1865 they moved from Monroeville to Willoughby, Ohio outside of Cleveland.

At the age of 16 Lamon bought a ranch outside of Eureka, Kansas. He entered the cattle business at the age of 19. He eventually moved to Kansas City, Missouri where he dabbled in the banking business.

In 1891 after his father's death in 1888 he decided to come back east and settled in Greenwich, Connecticut where he bought the William Avery Rockefeller mansion in 1891. The mansion sat on 34 acres and had 22 bedrooms.

Following a trip to Kentucky in 1892, Lamon acquired a 400-acre (1.6 km2) farm in Donerail, Kentucky named Walnut Hall Farm. There, he developed a Standardbred horse breeding operation of major importance to the harness racing industry. In 1904, Walnut Hall had expanded to 2,000 acres and 100 mares. The farm became one of the best-known Standardbred farms in the world. The farm’s Big Barn built by Harkness in 1897 is 476 feet long, and has 52 stalls, a sales area and auctioneer’s block – and it’s still in service 113 years later at the Kentucky Horse Park. When Harkness died in 1915, the then-5,000-acre farm with 1400 horses was passed to his heirs. Although sub-divided several times, a part of which is now home to the Kentucky Horse Park, Walnut Farm remains in the hands of his descendants.

Harkness was well known as a yachtsman who owned the SS Wakiva which became part of the United States Navy during 1917 and 1918 and had war service during World War I.

He was a member of The New York Athletic Club, Columbia Yacht Club, The New York Yacht Club and Greenwich Indian Harbor Yacht lub.

In recognition of his contribution to the industry, in 1958 Lamon Harkness was inducted posthumously in the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame.

Harkness had two daughters, Lela and Myrtle, and a son, Harry. Daughter Myrtle married California businessman A. Kingsley Macomber, a major Thoroughbred racehorse owner and breeder.

In addition to the home at Walnut Hall Farm, Lamon Harkness owned several homes including a mansion at 933 Fifth Avenue in New York City, and a home in East Hampton (town), New York. He died at his daughter's ranch Rancho Cienega de los Paicines in San Benito County, California in 1915, leaving an estate of approximately $100 million. Predeceased by his wife, they are buried together in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York.

Tax Suit[edit]

With multiple residences including New York City as well as Kentucky, California and Connecticut the question of where inheritance taxes should be paid came into play upon L.V.'s death. The case went to the State Supreme Court and The Harkness Estate was successful in defending the assertion that he was not a resident of New York upon his death.

W. C. Stuart Residence and Later L.V. Harkness residence in Pasadena, CA