Vanderbilts, Hamilton, and Wesleyan University

This has turned out to be quite an interesting weekend – and one with unexpected connections to Wesleyan University.

Thursday, I was contacted by someone who was interested in knowing how Arthur T. Vanderbilt II, author of the book “Fortune’s Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt,” was related to the Commodore.  It seems in his book, Arthur only states that he is a “cousin.”  She is leading a book club and wanted to gather additional information for the group.


So, off to the research I go! And stayed, to work on documenting Arthur’s connection to the Commodore.  It appears Arthur is likely the 3rd cousin 5 times removed from the Commodore as per the chart below.  There is at least one spot in the tree that is a little shaky, but this is the current working version. For example. noted Vanderbilt genealogist, Jean Rand, notes in her book that Jeremyas Van Der Bilt was “probably” the son of Aris Janse Van Der Bilt based on several pieces of information she describes – however, she also notes there are two other “possible” candidates for whom his father may be.  Hmmm…  In any case, let’s go with this for now as it is her strongest lead.  🙂


In addition to documenting the family on my own personal website, I also documented them on FamilySearch Family Tree (free registration required to view).

The connection to Wesleyan University comes in because the book’s author, Arthur T. Vanderbilt II, his father – William R. Vanderbilt, and his grandfather – Arthur T. Vanderbilt – are all graduates of the school. When I started my search Friday, a 2014 article from Wesleyan Magazine had many pieces of information I used to begin to work up the tree.

And, what was my other connection to the school? Well, on the same day – Thursday, I also discovered the genius that is the Broadway play Hamilton. I love musicals and when I heard the music for this one, I immediately loved it all!


I learned about the musical after seeing a video of Lin-Manual Miranda, the show’s writer, freestyling with President Obama.  I looked Miranda up, found out about Hamilton, listened to the soundtrack, and fell in love! It was only tonight as I revisited the Wesleyan Magazine website that I learned Miranda is also a graduate.  There is an article about Miranda featured on the front page right now. Looks like I had a Wesleyan weekend. 🙂



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