Margaret Louisa Vanderbilt Shepard

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Margaret Vanderbilt Shepard
'Portrait of Mrs. Elliott Fitch Shepard' by John Singer Sargent, San Antonio Museum of Art.jpg
Portrait of Margaret by John Singer Sargent, 1888
Born(1845-07-23)July 23, 1845
DiedMarch 3, 1924(1924-03-03) (aged 78)
New York City, New York, U.S.
(m. 1868; died 1893)
Children6, including Edith, Alice, Elliott
Parent(s)William Henry Vanderbilt
Maria Louisa Kissam
RelativesSee Vanderbilt family

Margaret Louisa Vanderbilt Shepard (New Dorp, July 23, 1845 – Manhattan, March 3, 1924) was an American heiress and a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family.[1] As a philanthropist, she funded the YMCA, helping create a hotel for guests of the organization. She was married to prominent New York City lawyer, banker, and newspaper editor Elliott Fitch Shepard.

Early life[edit]

The Shepards' New York City townhouse (right), part of the Vanderbilt Triple Palace

Margaret was born on July 23, 1845 in Staten Island, New York. She was the eldest daughter of William Henry Vanderbilt and Maria Louisa Kissam Vanderbilt. Her older brother was Cornelius Vanderbilt II and younger siblings William Kissam Vanderbilt, Emily Thorn Vanderbilt, Florence Adele Vanderbilt Twombly, Frederick William Vanderbilt, Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt Webb and George Washington Vanderbilt II.[2]

She was the granddaughter of the Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt and his first wife, Sophia (née Johnson) Vanderbilt.[3]

Charity work[edit]

An ardent supporter of the YWCA, she built, in 1891, the Margaret Louisa, a YWCA hotel strictly for transient guests at 14 E. 16th Street in New York City. Mrs. Shepard fully financed and furnished the building which was named the "Margaret Louisa Home for Protestant Women".[4][5]

Margaret Louisa narrowly escaped being a victim of the RMS Titanic, having booked passage but for unknown reasons cancelled and traveled a week earlier on the RMS Olympic.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Woodlea, her home in Briarcliff Manor, New York in 1895

On February 18, 1868, Margaret Louisa was married to Elliott Fitch Shepard (1833–1893) in the Church of the Incarnation in New York.[7] He was the son of Fitch Shepard and Delia Maria Dennis. Shepard was a lawyer, banker, and owner of the Mail and Express newspaper, as well as a founder and president of the New York State Bar Association.[8] Together, they had five daughters and one son:

Margaret died at her apartment on 998 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on March 3, 1924.[2] She is buried in the Vanderbilt Private Section, a burial ground just outside the Vanderbilt Mausoleum Moravian Cemetery, Staten Island. At her death, she left over $5,000,000 in trust to her daughters.[16] She donated $180,000 to charities, $20,000 to each of her sixteen grandchildren, and $100,000 to the Scarborough Presbyterian Church,[16] in addition to the $100,000 left to the Church upon her husband's death in 1893.[17]


The Shepards owned a townhouse (double mansion) (1882) on Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street designed by John B. Snook, provided to them by her father and shared with her sister Emily Thorn Vanderbilt, who was married to William Douglas Sloane and, after his death, Henry White, the American Ambassador to France and Italy, and a signatory of the Treaty of Versailles.[18]

They also owned Woodlea, built between 1892 and 1895, a McKim, Mead & White-designed[19] country estate in Scarborough, New York, a neighborhood of Briarcliff Manor. The estate is now operated as Sleepy Hollow Country Club.[20][21][22]


  1. ^ Descendants of the Immigrant Roger Billings
  2. ^ a b "MRS. SHEPARD OF A HEART ATTACK; Daughter of the 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.
  3. ^ Robehmed, Natalie (July 14, 2014). "The Vanderbilts: How American Royalty Lost Their Crown Jewels". Forbes. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  4. ^ Tom Miller (March 8, 2011). "The 1891 Margaret Louisa Home - No. 14 East 16th Street". Daytonian in Manhattan. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  5. ^ Spain, Daphne. How Women Saved the City - Daphne Spain - Google Boeken. ISBN 9781452905419. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
  6. ^ Rhinevault, Carney (2012-05-15). Hidden History of the Lower Hudson Valley: Stories from the Albany Post Road - Carney Rhinevault - Google Books. ISBN 9781609496548. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
  7. ^ NYC Marriage & Death Notices 1857-1868.
  8. ^ "Elliott F. Shepard Dead; He Expires at His Home After Taking Ether. Had Given No Indication of Serious Illness -- but Evidently Had the Possibility of Death in Mind -- His Family at His Bedside -- a Peculiarly Eccentric Character -- Politician, Editor, and Relig- Ious Enthusiast -- Often Amusing, but Always in Earnest". The New York Times. 25 March 1893. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  9. ^ "MRS. SCHIEFFELIN DIES IN HOME AT 77; Wife of Drug Firm Executive, Descendant of Commodore Vanderbilt, Aided Y.W.C.A." The New York Times. 19 August 1948. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  10. ^ "W. J. SCHIEFFELIN OF DRUG FIRM DIES; Retired Board Chairman Was 89--Crusader for Negro Welfare, City Reform HEADED CITIZENS UNION Helped to Start the Seabury Inquiry--Chemist Served in War With Spain". The New York Times. 1 May 1955. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  11. ^ "MRS. SHEPARD FABBRI, CHURCH BENEFACTOR". The New York Times. 19 December 1954. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  12. ^ "OBITUARY NOTES". The New York Times. 1 February 1895. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  13. ^ "MRS. MORRIS DEAD; ENVOY'S WIDOW, 75; Member of Vanderbilt Family Aided Y.W.C.A. and Backed International Language Was Radcliffe Graduate Honored By Belgians". The New York Times. 16 August 1950. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  14. ^ "DAVE H. MORRIS, 72, LAWYER, DIPLOMAT; Ambassador to Belgium 1933-37 Dies--Sportsman, Musician, Friend of Roosevelt". The New York Times. May 5, 1944. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  15. ^ "DIED. SHEPARD, Elliott Fitch". The New York Times. 13 April 1927. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  16. ^ a b "MRS. SHEPARD LEFT OVER $5,000,000; Trust Fund Created by Her Father, William H. Vanderbilt, Goes to Daughters". The New York Times. 15 March 1924. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  17. ^ "Elliott F. Shepard's Will; a Hundred Thousand Dollars for the Presbytery. Fifty Thousand for the Seventh Presbyterian Church and $100,- 000 for St. Paul's Institute at Tarsus -- His Newspaper and Stage Line Not to Do Sunday Business". The New York Times. 12 April 1893. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  18. ^ "HENRY WHITE WEDS MRS. WM.D. SLOANE; Ex-Ambassador to France Is 70 and Daughter of Late Wm. H. Vanderbilt Is 68. RELATIVES ONLY AT NUPTIAL Ceremony in St. Bartholomew's Chapel Follows Issuing of License --Couple at Bride's City Home". The New York Times. 4 November 1920. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  19. ^ Williams, Gray (2003). Picturing Our Past: National Register Sites in Westchester County. Elmsford, New York: Westchester County Historical Society. ISBN 0-915585-14-6.
  20. ^ "Club's $600,000 Purchase" (PDF). The New York Times. June 17, 1917. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  21. ^ "Refurbished Sleepy Hollow Club To Be Scene Of Golden Jubilee" (PDF). Herald Statesman. Yonkers, New York. September 27, 1961. p. 51. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
  22. ^ "Millions in a Country Seat" (PDF). New York Herald. November 24, 1895. p. 12. Retrieved May 13, 2015.

External links[edit]