One thing I am going to aim to do is gather information from as many primary sources as I can. I expect that doing so for a family as vast as the Vanderbilts will help me grow in my genealogy skills. That said, of course as I begin, secondary sources will be of great interest to me as well.
While searching Google Books I came across a book titled “The Vanderbilts & The Story of Their Fortune” published in 1886 by William Augustus Croffut. This book came out only 9 years after the Commodore died. It was scanned by Google in 2005 from the collection of the University of Michigan, and of course being so old, is now in public domain.
The first chapter of the book provides a nice background of the Van Der Bilt’s first appearance in the United States from Holland and a sketch of the Commodore’s family tree. He was one of nine children born of Cornelius Vander Bilt, who in turn was one of six children born to Jacob Vander Bilt Jr., who in turn was one of 11 children born to Jacob Van Der Bilt Sr. I’ll have fun entering the family into my database.
The picture is filled with nice graphics, the first of which is this sketch of the Commodore’s mother, Phebe Hand Vander Bilt.