Commodore Sighting!

Today while at work, I heard a commotion outside my office window – heard clapping.  I looked out and saw a crowd.  Since I’ve just joined Instagram I’ve got picture-taking on my mind, so I took one.

Turns out it was for National Walking Day and a group had convened in front of the library to begin a 20-minute walk.

It was only after I took the picture when I realized that the Commodore mascot was in it.  How fun! If I’d known he was going to be there, I may have walked :-)

Vanderbilt & the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

Right now, my husband and I are watching the movie Somewhere in Time starring Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour.  This is one of his favorite movies and we hope one day to actually visit the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island where the movie takes place.

Vanderbilt Suite at the Grand Hotel

Well, he just told me that there is a suite there called the Vanderbilt Suite, so off I go to find out what the association could be and guess what I learn – the hotel was opened in 1887 by a group of investors headed by the Commodore! Very cool.  I must research this further.

W.H. Vanderbilt Donation to UNC

Found this in Google News Archive while indexing the Alamance Gleaner newspaper.

Transcription:  W.H. Vanderbilt has donated ten thousand dollars to the Deems Fund of the University of North Carolina.  This fund is intended to be loaned to needy students to enable them to acquire an education.  This is but another specimen of the large hearted generosity of Mr. Vanderbilt.  The money comes where it is needed.  There are many young men struggling up the rugged path to knowledge, who will be benefitted [sic] by this noble charity, and be grateful to both Mr. Vanderbilt and the founder of the fund in the years to come. “

Information online at UNC states that the Deems Fund was created in honor of Theodore Deems, son of UNC professor Charles Force Deems (1820 – 1893).  Theodore died in the Battle of Gettysburg.  According to his Wikipedia entry,  Deems was influential in securing the money from the Commodore  for the establishment of Vanderbilt University.

In an address to the Alumni Association of UNC in 1903, John Sprunt Hill talks about this gift:

extract from pg. 19 of the speech. Click on the picture to read it online.

Author T.J. Stiles Speaks About the Commodore

One of the benefits of working at Vanderbilt University are the plethora of lectures that are held across campus.  Recently, T.J. Stiles, author of “The First Tycoon: the Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt” presented a lecture on his book.   The book received the National Book Award in 2009 and the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 2010.  I wasn’t able to attend the lecture, but I do plan to watch it now that it is available online.  You can either click on the image below to watch the video or go directly to the Vanderbilt University site.  Enjoy!

Vanderbilt Commencement 2010

On May 14, 2010, yours truly had the distinct honor of graduating from Vanderbilt University with my Masters in Public Health.  I won’t go into the specific details of the ceremony, but if you’re interested, you can read the details on my personal/family blog here.

The ceremony was beautiful and the Chancellor even mentioned the Commodore’s gift to establish the university, noting that the $1 million dollar contribution in 1873 would be worth $3 billion dollars today.   This would be the beginning of the Vanderbilt family’s philanthropic activities as we have come to know them today.

My commencement took place on one of the campus lawns:

Today, while doing research at the Tennessee State Library & Archives, I took photographs of some of the old Vanderbilt yearbooks.  In contrast to my ceremony, here is a picture of commencement from 1909.  Looks like the students marched on the lawn and the ceremonies were held inside.  I wonder if it rained that day?

Vanderbilt 1909 commencement

Now that I’ve graduated, here’s hoping for more Vanderbilt Genealogy posts!

Funeral of the Commodore

The funeral of Mr. Vanderbilt took place Sunday, January 7.   The weather was very inclement; notwithstanding a large number of persons called at the house prior to the removal of the remains to the Church of the Strangers, where the service was held.  The remains, which were inclosed [sic] in a metal casket, were laid in a large hall and viewed by friends, visitors and a deputation of two hundred and fifty of the attaches of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad.  The floral offerings were of the most simple character, and all attempts at display were studiously avoided.  A large crowd witnessed the removal of the remains from the house to the church,  which were carried on a bier by six men, one hundred and fifty police keeping the streets clear.  The procession from the house to the church was on foot, and headed by the Rev. Drs. Deems and Hutton, Drs. Lindsly and Eliot, together with Drs.  Flint and Van Buren.  The casket was followed by Mr. W.H. Vanderbilt and Mrs. C. Vanderbilt, Mr. J.C. Vanderbilt and Mrs. W.H. Vanderbilt, Mr. and Mrs. J.M. Cross, and a large number of relatives of the deceased.  The Church of the Strangers was heavily draped with black cloth.  Admission was by ticket, and every seat was occupied, the pews in the center being reserved for the family and near friends.  The casket was borne into the church by twelve men.

Read more beginning on page 11 of In Memoriam: Cornelius Vanderbilt, 1877 – a memorial program published by Vanderbilt University after his death.