Thomas Hitchcock Sr.

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Thomas Hitchcock Sr.
Thomas Hitchcock, Esq. M.F.H.jpg
Born23 November 1860
Old Westbury, New York, U.S.
Died29 September 1941 (aged 80)
Old Westbury, New York, U.S.
Louise Mary Eustis
(m. 1891; died 1934)
Children4, including Thomas Jr.
Major racing wins
Adirondack Stakes (1906)
Saratoga Special Stakes (1906)
American Grand National Steeplechase
(1906, 1938)
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame (1973)
Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame (2002)
Significant horses
Salvidere, Good and Plenty, Annibal

Thomas Hitchcock (23 November 1860 – 29 September 1941) was one of the leading American polo players during the latter part of the 19th century and a Hall of Fame horse trainer and owner known as the father of American steeplechase horse racing.[1]

Early life[edit]

He was born on 23 November 1860 in Westbury, New York, to Thomas Hitchcock (1831–1910)[2] and Marie Louise Center (1829–1913),[3] the daughter of a New York merchant.[1] His father had been involved in the newspaper business with Charles Anderson Dana.[4] He was educated at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he won a blue for polo in 1883, playing in the University polo team alongside his friend, Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, later Field Marshal Earl Haig. He graduated in 1884.[1]

His brothers were Center Hitchcock (1856–1909)[2] and Francis R. Hitchcock (1860–1926)[5] was a thoroughbred owner/breeder in both the United States and in France and was a member of the Board of Stewards of The Jockey Club for thirty-one years.[6] His brother left the bulk of his estate to Thomas.[7]


Hitchcock was a key figure in developing the sport of polo in the United States. In 1877, he and his friend August Belmont Jr. were part of the group that organized the first polo match on Long Island, New York, played on the infield of the racetrack at the Mineola, New York, Fair Grounds. One of the first 10-goal players in the U.S., Hitchcock's efforts resulted in the 1881 formation of Long Island's Meadowbrook Polo Club. In 1886, he was a member of the United States team in the first international polo match that played for the Westchester Cup. A polo player herself, and the founder in the year 1916 of the Aiken Preparatory School, Louise Eustis Hitchcock had her sons playing polo as soon as they were old enough to swing a mallet. She also helped family friend Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney to learn the game. Son Tommy Jr. would become a polo player who is considered by many expert observers as the greatest to have ever played the game.[8]

Thomas Hitchcock and his wife spent virtually every winter at their 3,000-acre (12 km2) estate in Aiken, South Carolina where in 1892 he founded the Palmetto Golf Club. At that time, the city served as a winter playground for many of the country's wealthiest families such the Vanderbilts and the Whitneys. The Hitchcocks built a steeplechase training track on their Aiken property and trained young thoroughbred horses imported from England. Fond of fox hunting, they also established the Aiken Hounds and in 1916 received official recognition from the Masters of Foxhounds Association of North America. As an owner and trainer of racehorses, in 1895 Thomas Hitchcock began a career that would last for 47 years until his death in 1941. In flat racing his colt Salvidere earned American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt honors. However, he had even greater success in steeplechasing. He was the owner or trainer of a number of top horses including the Hall of Fame gelding Good and Plenty with whom he won the 1906 American Grand National.[8]

Personal life[edit]

On 28 August 1891,[9] he married Louise Mary Eustis (1867–1934)[10] of Washington, D.C., the daughter of George Eustis Jr. (1828–1872) and Louise Corcoran Eustis (1838–1867), and the niece of Ambassador James B. Eustis.[11] Louise was the only granddaughter of William Wilson Corcoran (1798–1888), founder of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and co-founder of the Riggs Bank, and a granddaughter of George Eustis Sr. (1796–1858) was Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court.[9] Together, they had two sons and two daughters:[1]

Capt. Hitchcock during World War I

During World War I, Hitchcock was commissioned a captain, Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps, on 6 August 1917. He was then made Commanding Officer, 15th Aero Squadron, at Hazelhurst Field, and subsequently became Acting Commanding Officer there. He was later transferred to nearby Roosevelt Field , where he was appointed wing flight commander. He was made a reserve military aviator on16 October 1917, and was promoted to a major, Signal Corps (Aviation Section), on 19 February 1918. He was on duty at Roosevelt Field at the time of his discharge on 26 December 1918.[20]

Hitchcock died at his home, Broad Hollow Farm, in Old Westbury, Long Island, on 29 September 1941.[1]


Following its formation, in 1973 Thomas Hitchcock was inducted posthumously in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and in 2002 into the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.


  1. ^ a b c d e "T. Hitchcock Sr., Sportsman, Dead; Head of a Family Long Noted in Polo, Steeplechase and Hunting Circles". The New York Times. 30 September 1941. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b "THOMAS HITCHCOCK DEAD.; Writer Known as "Mathew Marshall" Expires of Pneumonia". The New York Times. 21 June 1910. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  3. ^ Leonard, John William; Mohr, William Frederick; Holmes, Frank R.; Knox, Herman Warren; Downs, Winfield Scott (1907). Who's who in New York City and State. L.R. Hamersly Company. p. 676. Retrieved 15 May 2017. thomas hitchcock marie louise center.
    - "Obituary 2 -- HITCHCOCK". The New York Times. 18 April 1913. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  4. ^ Tabler, Judith (15 February 2016). Foxhunting with Meadow Brook. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781586671525. Retrieved 15 May 2017 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Francis R. Hitchcock Obituary, Monday, 3 May 1926, in Time
  6. ^ "FRANCIS HITCHCOCK DIES-ON OLYMPIC; Turf Patron Stricken Suddenly With Heart Disease Day After Sailing for Europe. | OWNER OF FAMOUS RACERS | Steward of The Jockey Club for 31 Years -- A Breeder of Thoroughbreds in France". The New York Times. 20 April 1926. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  7. ^ "FRANCIS R. HITCHCOCK LEFT $2,221,138 ESTATE; Turf Patron Bequeathed Bulk to His Brother, Veteran Polo Player". The New York Times. 27 March 1928. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  8. ^ a b Thompson, Jane Page (2016). Aiken's Sporting Life. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9781467114974. Retrieved 15 May 2017 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ a b "Louise Mary Eustis Married; the happy bridegroom is Thomas Hitchcock Jr. of this city". The New York Times. 28 August 1891. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  10. ^ Times, Special To The New York (2 April 1934). "MRS. HITCHCOCK SR. DEAD OF IRJIJRIES; Noted Horsewoman Victim of Paralysis Due to Fall in Hunt at Aiken". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  11. ^ "Mrs. Hitchcock's Will Filed". The New York Times. 13 April 1934. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  12. ^ "DOUBLE FUNURAL FOR J. L. PEABODYS | Service Conducted in Church of Resurrection for Ship Disaster Victims. | NOTABLES ARE MOURNERS | More Than 500 Crowd Edifice at Final Honors to Memory of Architect and Wife". The New York Times. 29 January 1935. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  13. ^ "Mrs. Laughlin Wed to T. Hitchcock Jr.; Widow of Pittsburgh Steel Manufacturer Bride of Star Polo Player. | Quite Ceremony at Plaza | Secretary of the Treasury Mellon, Uncle of the Bride, Among Out of Town Guests. Wedding Trip to Honolulu. A Remarkable War Record". The New York Times. 16 December 1928. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
    - "Gives Woodland to Aiken; Major Thomas Hitchcock Presents 1,200 Acres for Public Park". The New York Times. 10 December 1939. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  14. ^ "MISS MARY ATWELL ENGAGED TO MARRY; Her Betrothal to Francis C.E. Hitchcock Is Announced by Her Parents. Wedding in September: Fiance Is Brother of Thomas Hitchcock Jr., Polo Star--His Mother Is a Noted Horsewoman". The New York Times. 7 August 1930. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  15. ^ "FRANCIS HITCHCOCK IS SUED FOR DIVORCE; Fifth Avenue Model Accused by Wife in Secret Hearing in Newburgh". The New York Times. 2 March 1934. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
    - "Hitchcocks Divorced; Westchester Justice Grants Motion of Referee Finding for Wife". The New York Times. 19 May 1934. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  16. ^ "Duryea---Hitchcock". The New York Times. 10 October 1935. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  17. ^ "OBITS -- CLARK". The New York Times. 22 February 1979. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
    - "Major Clark to Wed an Earl's Daughter ; Long Island Air Pilot and Lady Bridget Elliot Engaged". The New York Times. 15 February 1944. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
    - "James A. Clark Jr., 69, Air Ace and Executive". The New York Times. 16 January 1990. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  18. ^ "J. AVERELL CLARK, 66, A STOCKBROKER HERE". The New York Times. 12 March 1960. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  19. ^ "MISS HITCHCOCK ENGAGED.; Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Hitchcock to Wed Ensign Clark". The New York Times. 9 October 1919. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
    - "Miss H. Hitchcock Weds Jas. A. Clark; Society Equestrienne a Bride at Her Home, Brook Hollow Farm, Westbury, L.I." The New York Times. 30 November 1919. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  20. ^ Public Domain One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: Appleton, Francis R. (1922). War Records of the Knickerbocker Club, 1914-1918. New York: Knickerbocker Club. p. 167.

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