About Me

Hello, my name is Taneya Koonce and I’m somewhat obsessed with researching the Vanderbilt Family!   Since visiting the Biltmore Estate several years ago,  I fell in love with it and immediately wanted to know more.  I also work at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and I have a graduate degree from the institution.

When I started doing online genealogy, one day I searched for the Vanderbilt Family tree. I was amazed that I didn’t find a source as comprehensive as I’d liked, so I started my own tree.  I thought others may be interested, so I started this site.  I’ve been pleased at the response so far for I have indeed learned that many others are also interested in the Vanderbilt Family.  Over the years, it has been a pleasure to make many great connections! Please let me know if you have information to share.  Currently, I don’t spend as much time researching the family as I used to, but I still enjoy all things Vanderbilt.

My job requires me to state the following:

The views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and they may not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.

If you’re interested in knowing more about me, please check my About Me page on my genealogy blog.

76 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Mary

    Hi Taneya,

    Well, it looks like we have a couple of things in common. I, too, am a librarian, and I am afflicted with the Vanderbilt obsession as well. We have been to Biltmore 4 times over the last 17 years. In fact we were just there over spring break. I found your blog because I was looking for a Vanderbilt family tree. I just finished reading “Fortune’s Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt” by Arthur T. Vanderbilt II. I bought it because the reviews indicated that he dishes the dirt on the family–and he does. We’ve been to Newport to see The Breakers and Marble House too. (See–I am obsessed.) Anyhow, you might want to check this book out if you haven’t already read it.

    1. Herb


      I three am a Librarian (retired) but never did geneaology work! Now I’m curious about my Vanderbilt connection, if any. Family stories have my mother being named after an Ada Vanderbilt who was, supposedly, her grand or great grandmother. Since my mother was born in 1915, that’d make this Ada V born about 1870 or 1850’ish.

      Ada V may have married Frank Outwater (Oswassen) in NYC or NJ or thereabouts.

      If Ada V was my mother’s grandmother, then Ada V’s daughter would have been Mabel born in 1883 and married John Berry.

      If Ada V was my mother’s great-grandmother then one of her children was the parent to Mabel Outwater Berry.

      All this would have happened around Staten Island or Manhattan.

      I appreciate any leads you can share.

      Thank you.


  2. Hi Taneya,

    I hope that you’ll continue with this blog. I am very interested in the Vanderbilts and wish that I could see The Breakers and Marble House, but they’re a long way from me.

    I am especially interested in Consuelo, Duchess of Marlborough.

    1. Gary Grainger

      Hve you read “The Glitter and the Gold”, Consuelo’s memoir? There is also an interesting book titled “Alva and Consuelo: Mother and Daughter of the Gilded Age.” (I think I have the title a bit mucked, but it’s something along those lines.) The latter is a very well written account of the two, but I felt it let Alva off the hook a little lightly regarding her treatment of Consuelo.

  3. I am researching the Gwynne/ Vanderbilt family .Alice Claypoole Gwynne married Cornelious Vanderbilt The Gwynne family came originally from Wales A Evan Gwynne emigrated to Baltomore in 1773.


    Thomas Gwynne

  4. Gary Grainger

    Always a treat to find other Vanderbilt-philes. I have been keenly interested in the family since my first visit to Newport in 1980. Since that time I’ve been back to Newport twice, to Biltmore and Hyde Park in New York. I would love to trade information with you. Hope you continue your work on this blog!

  5. Benjamin E. Hardisty

    this is so fascinating, WK Vanderbilt II was my maternal grandfather (Barclay H Warburton III)’s stepfather. The whole idea, though I always knew my grandfather and grandmother both were independently wealthy through inheritance, that my family was that connected was a surprise I didn’t quite become aware till after we left Newport! My mother, and I thought it was a joke at the time, had said she was tired of people seeing money-signs when they saw her. My maternal grandmother’s family goes directly back to John Adams by blood and so my grandfather wasn’t considered to be Upperclass by such Boston Brahmin standards!
    Anyhow, my closer-connected relatives have a bit more money than we do but it’s still pretty interesting reading about the old-timers.
    Benjamin E. Hardisty

  6. Frank Vanderbilt

    I have been researching VANDERBILT for about 45 years, and I’m still looking. My line goes back to Cornelius & Christina Lane Vanderbilt who lived in Readington, Hunterdon, NJ, Bucks Co., PA and Cumberland Co., PA. I think he may have been the son of Jacob & Neeltje Van Couwenhoven Vanderbilt who lived in Readington NJ and Bucks Co. PA.

    I worked with Jean Rand as she wrote her book, but at that time I had beleived Cornelius’s father was Cornelius Aerts Vanderbilt. At any rate I think the Commodore is my 3rd cousin, 3 or 4 times removed.

    I’m still looking!

  7. Rachelle

    Hi! I am trying to find out a little more about my mothers family and I know that it’s tied into the Vanderbilts and Biltmore Estate. My grandmother is our connection but she is long since passed. I do know that her maiden name is Richards and her mothers name was Teresa (Theresa) Six. No one seems to recall the correct spelling of her first name. I can’t seem to find the connection there but I remember stories my grandmother told us about “the family”.

    Do you happen to recall coming across that name in your research at all? I am going to keep digging and hope to get more out of my family but wanted to check wth you as well.

    Thanks for the wonderful work you have done. This site is great!!

    Thank you,

  8. Jannetje Van der Bilt b. 1682, daughter of Aris
    Janse Van der Bilt 1653-1715 and Hildegonde
    Van der Beek, married Isbrandt Van Cleef/Cleave possibly in New Utrecht. They were my sixth great grandparents. I have to check everything I see about the Vanderbilt family, even though my link is so far back.

  9. Van der Bilt

    I am a Van der Bilt in the Netherlands and interested in my genealogy. Did any of you perhaps traced back the Vanderbilt’s to the old country?

  10. Gregory E Thompson

    Hi there:

    I am very fascinated with the Vanderbilt family myself and have been working on a Vanderbilt Genealogy myself. There are a few genealogies written, but I don’t think that they do justice to the family. Does anyone know if anyone else is working on the Descendants of the ” Commodore”
    If so, I sure would love to share information.

  11. Jewel Gore

    I am (I think) a descendant of the Commodore’s youngest daughter Katherine through her marriage to Smith Barker. This is from my dad’s side of the family, the Barker’s. I have been unable to find any info as to these two people and their families. I know Clarence Barker was a cousin of George Vanderbilt of Biltmore House. I have not been able to find any info on him either. I would love to hear from anyone that may have any info as to these Vanderbilt’s. I have been facinated and drawn to this family for many years. I once met Gloria Vanderbilt and was awed at meeting her. I did’nt know why at that time as my passion for this family was not fully developed. It has only come about in the last few years, even though I have seemed to have felt it since I was a child and did not understand what it was I was feeling. Any help in this matter is appreciated.

  12. Herb

    I too am trying to learn of my own connection. Does anyone know which line of Vanderbilt’s a woman named Ada came from? She lived in the NY/NJ area about 1850’s. She married Frank Outwater (Oswassen?) about 1870-1880 and had a daughter named Mabel in the 1880’s or 90’s.

    With appreciation,

  13. Jannet Bohne

    I’ll preface this with, our family has the Vanderbilt 1770 Dutch family Bible. I married a Staten Islander. I have begun typing in the records and am posting them on ancestry.com. It is listed under Vanderbilt Fetteroll Bohne Doney Vaughn a work in progress. I put quite a few more in this weekend and will try to upload yet today. I think you can view it but not edit it without a membership. Let me know. Last you should all know I am working on this because I have had mulitple surgeries and extensive follow up treatments. I normally do medical research. My next surgery is schedule at the end of the month and with no immune system I have picked up a bug just to make things more interesting for the surgeon. If I do not respond within 24 hours on a weekday then I am probably in bed.

    I have an Ada that comes down through the Gertrude Onderdunk Luyster line of the Vanderbilt’s. [isn’t dunk the Dutch word fro water?] Aunt Mabel b 13 Sep 1892 was the daughter of William Miller [no birth date] d. 16 Oct 1935. Her mother was Olevia Drudy [earlier the family name was spelled Drury/Duryea/Drurie, etc]. Olevia was born 17 Jun 1869 and died 29 Oct 1960.

    Aunt Mabel first married LeRoy Johnson [also of Vanderbilt lineage] and had two children. William Miller Johnson and Carol Ann Johnson. Her second husband was Andrew Brown who owned pharmacies on Staten Island.

    If this was the Ada you are searching for, glad to help. If not sorry you had to read my epistle.

  14. Jannet Bohne

    Why the fascination with the Vanderbilt’s? Anybody who can trace their ancestry back to the Revolutionary War and the NY/New England area is probably related to them. They were prolific. Since they were prolific like rabbits I joking refer to them as the Van der Hare’s.

    Second they intermarried like crazy. There were only 3000 people on Staten Island and they all seem to be related. Van der Bilt mean on the hill. Since “incest is best” seems to be a family motto in the 1700’s and the name means hill, I tell my husband he comes from this country’s original NYC hillbillies that then spread to the south. He just gives me a look. My son and I find it funny. And for a final note, our son is the spitting image of William Kissam.

  15. Judy Everett Ramos

    Just found this site, and I am sure it will be valuable to my research. I am related to the Vanderbilts in a couple of ways. I am descended from Obadiah Hand, Phebe Hand’s brother. Phebe Hand was Cornelius Vanderbilt’s mother, so I am related through the Hand family. Obadiah was Cornelius’ uncle. I am also a distant cousin to Frank Armstrong Everett Crawford, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s second wife. Her mother was Martha Eliza Everett Crawford, sister to Captain Jack Ross Everett, my GG Grandfather. Thanks for creating this site. I’m sure I’ll use it a lot.

    1. Kaye

      Hi. I too am a librarian and a novice genealogist. I am connected via Obadiah as well. Obadiah and Sarah’s son, John Britton Hand, is my ggggrandfather. His son Alexander Trotter Hand to his daughter Ida who married John Brown whom I can find very little about. Their child was my precious grandfather. Any info would be greatly appreciated. It’s great to talk with fellow diggers…

    2. Michele

      Judy, As I mentioned, I am connected through Obadiah. His son John Britton married Sara Ann Everett and their son Alexander Trotter Hand (Eliza Mary Frances O’Ferrill) had Ida who married John Ambus Brown, parents of my grandfather. The Everett name caught my attention as well. John Britton Hand’s wife, Sara Ann Everett I have as the daughter of Enoch Everett and Margaret Byd. Does any of this ring a bell? So glad you posted!!!

  16. Edith Donham

    Wild West Vanderbilt

    I have a connection to the Vanderbilt family through John hennery Vanderbilt cousin to the commodore. John hennery Vanderbilt sailed a few ships full of equipments into San Francisco during the gold rush. John hennery abandoned the commodores ship still full of goods and went to the gold rush hills to a town then called Hang Town.
    John hennery was named chief of police in the first amendment of the town re-named Placerville.
    Long story shortened to the juiciest part. John hennery was often bashed in the San Francisco newspapers as the black sheep of the Vanderbilt family, his friends got tired of his belly aching about his loss of connection to the family. One night after drinking he was shangied and put on a ship to the east where his friends told make good with the commodore. I haven’t the exact quote in front of me but the commodore called him a dirty dog in a more interesting way. And so I am descendant of that Vanderbilt gone Wild West.

  17. I took my grandmother’s maiden Everett legally years ago. Rosa Everett Pena who’s father John Everett was one Capt. Jack Ross Everett’s son.
    Capt. Jack (as he liked to be called) niece Frank Armstrong Crawford married Cornelius Vanderbilt 42 years his junior after his first wife died, who was also his late wife’s niece.
    The connection is true as history unfolds itself. Frank’s mother was Capt. Jack sister Martha Eliz Everett Crawford.

    1. Kaye

      My ggggrandfather John Britton Hand married a Sarah Ann Everitt, daughter of Enoch and Margaret (Byrd) Everitt, I think. Same Everett’s perhaps?

  18. Michele

    I TOO am a librarian and related to the Vanderbilt’s. My 4th great aunt Phebe married Cornelius. Her brother Obadiah Hand was my gggggrandfather. I have visited the Biltmore once prior to finding out the relation. My husband and I are going back there in a couple of weeks. My line trickles down to the Browns not to be confused with the Brown connection from Brown University. My connection is William Lafayette Brown who married John C Hamrick’s daughter Martha. Any information on them would be greatly appreciated!

  19. Nancy Zey


    I’m hoping someone here can help me. I’ve come across some records that refer to a “Eunice Johnson” and describe her as a “sister of Cornelius Van Der Bilt of Albany.” I’ve checked his family tree but do not see a sister Eunice, nor does his wife, Sophia Johnson, show a sister Eunice. Could Eunice be his sister “Phebe,” who has a birthdate of 1798 but no recorded death date? The Eunice Johnson I’ve come across appears to have died in New Orleans around 1822, leaving two orphaned daughters: Sally and Isabella.

    Any information you can give to help me identify Eunice Johnson’s relationship with Cornelius Vanderbilt would be most appreciated.

    Many thanks.

    1. Hi Nancy,

      I saw that you’ve posted a query in the past about this Ms. Johnson. At this time I don’t have any leads to offer, but I will keep my eyes open for anything that may be relevant.

  20. Mary moore

    hi, just found your site, excellant.I give tours of Newport Rhode Island where ther are several Vanderbilt mansions. I enjoy reading abourt the gilded age and it’s people.

  21. Edward D'Antoni

    Just found your blog looking for more info on Beacon Towers, glad I am not alone in my fascination with all things Vanderbilt. Love history of wealth, love architecture, especially fascinated by lost or demolished estates, like Beacon Towers. Fortune’s Children and Glitter and Gold were great, also Vanderbilt Homes.

  22. Amy

    Hi. I am from a small town in West Virginia. Visiting our annual book sale at the local library, I came upon an old Bible. I found a receipt w/ Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt’s name on it. The date is May of 1924. Pretty cool, huh? I’m wondering if this could be his Bible. There is also 2 different addresses in the book. Interested in knowing more? I know I am.
    Hope to hear from you soon

  23. Carol White

    Dear Tanyea,

    I have been obsessed with the Vanderbilt family as well as one of my mother’s Cecil’s genealogy kin was married to a Vanderbilt. I have extensive research and photographs on my ancestry.com site. If you will send me your direct email, I will send you an invite to my research. You don’t need to be a member of ancestry.com but you will have to sign up with a guest membership to view.

    Carol Robertson White
    ancestry user name: familyhistorycrw

    email: familyhistorycrw@aol.com

  24. Angel

    Conseulo Brynes , my mom was named after Conseulo Vanderbilt, her grandparents Gladys Richards and Violet her sister they were adopted by the Bennets. Conseulo Vanderbilt it has always been told to us that is their cousin. Please let us know if you are able to make this connection. Gladys Richards married a Cox.

  25. Suzanne Martin


    I have become a Vanderbilt Family follower now for the past
    5 years. I live in Staten Island and have been reading quite a bit about the family. I find it sad that there is nothing in Staten Island to remind people of the Commodore, or his family other than the mausoleum. That is off limits. Even the Commodore’s grandaughter’s home was raised to make way for new homes 2 years ago. I was wondering if there are any pictures showing the family living or Summering on Staten Island.

  26. Jerri


    I have some material of Catharine Anne Morris Vanderbilt and John Morris.

    Catharine Anne Morris Vanderbilt and John Morris. Catharine reads “My Grandmother, Catharine Ann Morris 1803-73, daughter of Richard and Ann Morris, 1832 married Oliver Vanderbilt son of John and Elizabeth Taylor Vanderbilt Oliver Born 1794-1868, Minerva Vanderbilt Roberts. “My Uncle John Morris 1801-.. Brother of Catharine Ann Morris Vanderbilt, Minerva Vanderbilt Roberts…”

    Are these people connected to the Vanderbilt family.? Thanks

    1. Karen Cohen


      Just found this site and saw the posting regarding Catharine and Oliver Vanderbilt.
      Catharine Ann Morris was the second wife of Oliver Vanderbilt. They had three children (I believe) – Sarah Louisa, Edward Ward, and James Oliver.

      Oliver’s first wife was Hester M. Benzaken. They had two daughters, Elizabeth and Christiana.

      I have a letter written March 6, 1832 to Elizabeth from Oliver telling her that Catharine Ann Morris will be her step-mother and that he will be marrying her on the following Thursday.

  27. sherry benson


    just wanted to say this is a wonderful blog you have going. I have been into the Vanderbilts about 3 years now. We are season pass holders at biltmore estates.[3 years now.] We go about once a month or when time will allow. I never get tired of it and my 2 small kids enjoy it also. My boyfriend thinks i’m crazy because i read everyrthing i can get my hands on about any Vanderbilt and then sometimes i make notes so i wont forget. I habe alot of books on them also. SO keep up the good work and nice to know that i’m not crazy to want to know so much about the vanderbilts and there people out there like me.

    1. Kaye

      Sherry, Hi. In all your reading/searching if you run across anything about the Hand’s I would be grateful if you shared. The Vanderbilt’s are a fascinating family!

    2. Jewel Gore

      There is a history group on Biltmore on yahoo. You might want to check it out since you go Biltmore so much. Good group and so much good info you might enjoy.

  28. Karen Anna Verdi

    Hi, has anyone else noticed that Cornelius was the spittin’ image of Mayer Rothschild? I come from the Cornelius side, but didn’t know until recently. I have a lovely poster of all the Vanderbilt homes I had framed in 1982. In 1983 I had a Stephen Spielberg moment in the UNC-Greensboro Library. Just as I opened a Cornelius Vanderbilt biography, someone used the emergency door on the stairwell, and at that same time a huge gust of wind roared down the stairwell, pulling papers and debris out the door. The sound was enormous! Not only that, the exiting student dimmed the lights! I stood there frozen in my tracks! The librarian was very angry and of course she glared at ME! I put the book back and took that as a visit from the Ole’ Commodore.

  29. Jamie Schau

    Hi Taneya,

    I am a graduate student in San Diego and I am doing a research project (on behalf of a professor) trying to find out more about the Vanderbilts’ railroad project in Nicaragua in the 19th century, as well as to determine if there might be any interest in assisting a new museum in Nicaragua that would promote the Vanderbilts’ 19th century accomplishments.

    I see on here that you’ve certainly done your homework, and I thought you might be able to assist, or point me in the right direction, so that I might find a university/foundation/museum point-of-contact or ideally a Vanderbilt descendant who could answer some questions?

    Any info on historical records or documents regarding the topic would also be very helpful, if you could provide me with your ideas in that regard it would be much appreciated.

    Thank you!!

    -Jamie Schau

  30. Great site taneya. I can see you’ve done your homework and genealogy is a fascinating thing to study. I found this site trying to find out more about a story my grandmother told me. Apparently, she and her brothers were good friends with the Vanderbilt’s (I’m not sure which ones) and they would play together as children. Then one day, I think this must have been in the 20’s, my great uncle and one the Vanderbuilt children, aged nine or so, went out playing with a bow and arrow. No one is sure what actually happened, but needless to say, one of the boys was injured with an arrow in the neck and died. This was the story I was told. I have been trying to track down exactly who that child must have been in the Vanderbilt line. My great grandfather was named Baily and had homes in Bel Air and New York. (I’m not sure where this happened.) I would love your help in finding any children who might have died young so I can confirm this tragic story.

      1. philip

        The spelling of “Baily” (not Bailey), references to New York, California and North Carolina (via Vanderbilts) are tipoffs. . . .

        Benjamin Baily Jr. (1814-1872) was the personal attorney of Cornelius Vanderbilt and is my 3rd gr-grand uncle, born/died in the Mahopac, Putnam Co., NY home of his father, Benjamin Baily Sr. (1785-1823), my 4th gr-grandfather.

        Dykeman Waldron Baily Sr. (1871-1953) was the grandson of Benjamin Baily Jr., born in Mt. Kisco NY and died in Morehead City, NC. He was both a well-known local politician and author who bounced back/forth between NC and NY and CA (Bel Air?) because his early books were made into silent movies. He certainly would have known Vanderbilts via his grandfather’s business connections with Cornelius.

        Who was your great grandfather? Are we related?


        Are we related?

  31. Valerie McGough

    Hi, This post is directed at Michele and Judy Everett Ramos. My GGGGGG-Grandfather is Nehemiah Hand, brother of Obadiah Hand and Phebe Hand (Mrs. Vanderbilt). I had no idea that I was in any way related to a Vanderbilt or to the prominent Hand family of East Hampton, NY. Since I live on the other side of the country (Seattle), it seems almost impossible that part of the Hand family is here in Washington State, but it’s true!!


    1. Michele

      Valerie, How exciting! I had no idea of my connection either and when I started digging I was shocked as was my family at our family reunion! Anything you have on the family, I would love to see! I have read stories of Samuel (Phebe Lum) being a traitor and fleeing for his life. My line is from Obadiah (Sara Britton Butler Godfrey)) to John Britton (Sara Ann Everett) to his son Alexander Trotter (Eliza Mary Frances O”Ferrall) to his daughter Ida (John Ambus Brown). Thanks for sharing!!

  32. Samantha

    This website is wonderful! I also became obsessed with the Vanderbilt family after visting Bitlmore Estate three years ago when I was 13-years-old. Unfortunately, I have only been able to visit once more since then, even though I only live a few hours away. I am unbelievably happy to find a website that has information about the Vanderbilts that isn’t told there. I hope to visit other Vanderbilt homes in the future, but I’m sure Biltmore will always be my favorite.

  33. Gene Meier

    I am writing the first book from the American point of view about 19th century rotunda panoramas.These were the biggest paintings in the world, 50 x 400=20,000 square feet, housed in their own rotundas which were 16-sided polygons.Chicago in 1893 had 6 panorama companies and 6 panorama rotundas. Le Pantheon de la Guerre, a 20th century panorama, was made in Paris during the First World War, located at 148,Rue de l’Universite. Pantheon de la Guerre came to USA in 1927, and in 1933 would be shown at A Century of Progress in Chicago .The WORLD’S FAIR WEEKLY, June 10,1933,p 60 reads in part:”While the picture[Pantheon de la Guerre] was being painted Paris was being continuously bombarded. Mrs. W.K.Vanderbilt was in the studio when an enemy shell landed a hundred yards away.” I would like to know the date and the details of this piece of lore from the Great War.

  34. Gene Meier

    DISCOURS de Mensieur CARRIER-BELLEUSE 27 Mars 1927

    A propos de la Bertha me sera-t-il permis de rappeler un souvenir,c’etait en Juin 1917,je faisais le portrait de Madame VANDERBILT,lorsqu’un bruit formidable vint ebranler l’edifice et nous fit sursauter mon modele et moi,c’etait la Bertha qui venait de tomber a cent metres de notre atelier,sur le quai d’Orsay; mais alors me dit tranquillement Madame VANDERBILT “C’esr une pose en musique.”

    NEW YORK TIMES, Monday ,March 28,1927, 25:3

    Mrs.Vanderbilt Cuts Huge Picture in Two
    Uses Silver Scissors at Dismantling of “War Pantheon”Coming to America

  35. Charlene Hobby

    I just recently visited Biltmore and was amazed to find out that the music room had stood unfinished for 81 years. I am certain that there is more to this story. After a little research I found that George Vanderbilt’s cousin / musician Clarence Barker died at Biltmore and Mr. Vanderbilt funded and named a hospital in his honor. I have not been able to find anything else about Clarence Barker. I would like to know how he died and if his death has anything to do with Mr. Vanderbilt’s decision to leave the music room unfinished.

  36. Laura

    Hi. I just finished reading The First Tycoon and became interested in Phebe Hand (the Commodore’s mother). Phebe was born in New Jersey and, according to some research I did on ancestry.com, her parents were loyalists and had to flee to Nova Scotia sometime after the Revolutionary War. Phebe would have only been about 16 when the war ended but she stayed in the States, moving to Staten Island.

    Phebe’s father (Samuel Hand) was a first cousin of William Hand (1721-1806) whose residence (built in c.1732) remains standing and in use as a private house near my home in Maplewood, NJ. William’s wife (Lois Ward) was a great-granddaughter of the Puritans who originally settled Newark, NJ.

    The early Hand family seems to have all been Puritans who settled in South Hampton, LI; Newark, NJ; and Elizabeth, NJ.

    I wonder if anybody has further information on the Commodore’s mother Phebe and her family. What were their religious ties? How many were loyalists? What did this do to the family? To Phebe? Does anybody know anything about the life Samuel Hand and his wife made in Canada?

    Many thanks. I enjoyed reading your site. Well done!

    1. Michele

      Laura, Oh you are asking things I have longed to find out! Pleassssse share if you find out! I have read stories of Samuel (Phebe Lum) being a traitor and fleeing for his life. My line is from Obadiah (Sara Britton Butler Godfrey)) to John Britton (Sara Ann Everett) to his son Alexander Trotter (Eliza Mary Frances O”Ferrall) to his daughter Ida (John Ambus Brown). I sure hope we find our answers!!

  37. Susan

    I couldn’t help leaving a comment. I am also a librarian and my current search on things Vanderbilt began with weeding the art books in our collection. I just finished reading a copy of “Black Knight, White Knight”. In a quest for more information, I found your blog. As for Vanderbilt in my life, it probably began with my white Gloria Vanderbilt jeans in h.s. and I also remember my disappointment when my family decided against a visit to the Biltmore Estate on a trip to N.C.
    However, Vanderbilt played a more important role several years later when my brother left Michigan to attend college. He and his lovely wife are graduates of Vanderbilt University and remain proud “Commodores”.

    I noticed that you recently posted about the “Grand Hotel” on Mackinac Island. I do hope you have a chance to stay in the Grand Hotel, perhaps in the Vanderbilt Suite. I have seen the Grand Hotel from afar, but have yet to walk the famed porch or spend the night. Another interesting Michigan-Vanderbilt connection, is the town of Vanderbilt off of I-75 in northern Michigan. I think I might do some research myself…

    1. Hi Susan,

      Thanks for leaving the comment! How great that you too are a librarian. 🙂 I’ve not read Black Knight, White Knight and I realized I did not have it on the bibliography I have on this site. So, I added it under the section of books “Written by Vanderbilts.” Go Dores! – yeah for the Vandy graduations of your family members. I’m hoping my eldest stepson, who is 16, will apply, get in, and attend school here. Would be great to have him close to us. And I would LOVE to get to Mackinac Island. If I ever do you’d better believe I’m going to try and get the Vanderbilt suite. Take care and let me know if there is anything I might be able to help with.

  38. Saludos Taneya,

    I am a project Manager for the soon opening Condado Vanderbilt Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Condado Vanderbilt Hotel was originally built in 1919 and was designed by the Warren and Wetmore firm just like the New York Vanderbilt. I have searched all over and have been unable to make a link with Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt to the Puerto Rico Hotel except that he opened the New York Vanderbilt in 1913 and used Warren and Wetmore. Would you know if Alfred had anything to do with the Puerto Rico Hotel?

  39. Debra Cunningham

    I would like a copy of your Vanderbilt history. My Aunt Kezia Wellings married Edward Ward Vanderbilt. My cousin Minerva Vanderbilt Roberts visited my grandparents until they died. My last picture with them was with Minerva, her son Ned and his family. We called Minerva cousin Birdie and her son Ned but I think he was Edward Vanderbilt Roberts as I have a picture of him with Cousin Birdie when he was small. I also have a picture of Natalie Vanderbilt addressed to Uncle

    1. Barbara Beaman

      Hi Debra, Do you have any photos or more information about Edward and Kezia Vanderbilt. I am related to their daughter, Florence, who was the sister of Minerva.

  40. Bill W.

    Nice site! I too have visited Biltmore, Sagamore, Newport, Hyde Park et al. I also am an agent for New York Central Office Car #3, formerly assigned to Harold S. Vanderbilt (aka Mike) the famous yachtsman & inventor of contract bridge. It is operational & available for charter, check it out at http://www.nyc-3.com. As far as we know, it is the only Vanderbilt private rail car in existence.

  41. Dee

    Hi Taneya,

    I wish I found this blog 2 years ago. My sister’s husband passed away and we found tons of Vanderbilt documents and diaries! Email me and we can discuss the torrid details.

  42. Vanderbilt trivia from my book, “Lily, Duchess of Marlborough (1854–1909): A Portrait with Husbands.”

    Before Consuelo married the ninth Duke of Marlborough in 1895, the duke’s stepmother, American-born Lily, tried to promote a marriage between her stepson and Consuelo’s cousin, Gertrude, who was two years Consuelo’s elder and the daughter of Lily’s good friends the Cornelius Vanderbilts.

    According to an article in New York City’s gossip sheet “Town Topics” dated 27 July 1893, “Unless Miss Vanderbilt is thoroughly in accord with the plan herself, it is sure to fall through, as Cornelius Vanderbilt is not the man to barter his daughter for any such bauble as a title.”

    This left the field wide open for Consuelo’s mother, who had fewer scruples about her daughter’s wishes.

    1. Ooh – I’ve not been to Hyde Park yet. Even though it may be the smallest, I’d still love to see it. Thanks for the link to the partial list! I am hoping to get a Google map created of Vanderbilt-related sites & locations. Wouldn’t that be cool?

  43. Hi-

    The Vanderbilt family in America goes back to 120 years before the Revolutionary War. They married into another prolific Dutch family…The Rapaljes. Aris Vanderbilt (1653-1715) married Hillitje Remsen, the granddaughter of Joris Rapalje (1604-1662). He was the first Rapalje in America, and was part of the first Dutch wave of settlers in the early to mid-1600s. It is estimated that the Rapaljes now have more than one million descendants in the United States alone. Some of the more prominent Rapalje descendants are: Wilbur and Orville Wright, Michael Douglas (through his mother, not Kirk), Howard Dean, Tom Brokaw, and Humphrey Bogart. There are many more prominant politicians of the last two hundred years also. I am a distant relative of all of them, as well as a distant relative of the Vanderbilts.

      1. Adam Carrier

        Taneya –
        Technically the Vanderbilts are not ancestors of mine, as I do not descend from any of them. Rather, Joris Rapalje, who is the Commodore’s 5th great grandfather, is my 10th great grandfather. We descend from two of Joris’s children. Cornelius is my 5th cousin 6x removed.

  44. lucian

    Hi Taneya,

    I found your good blog last night and by happenstance today found this address that author Malcolm Gladwell gave to the New Yorker Festival in October 2011. Gladwell brilliantly interweaves New York socialite Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont’s life story from the Gilded Age, her fight for a woman’s right to vote with current ongoing social turmoil and rebellion in Greece, Ireland, and the Arab states maintaining that those who are denied legitimacy will eventually rise up. Gladwell tells her story quickly and abbreviates some of the nuance and facts to keep his audience’s attention. But what an extraordinary premise.


    I have been reading everything I can about Alva for 3 years and believe like Gladwell that she is “one of the unsung heros of the twentieth century.” Based on the success of MacKenzie Stuart’s terrific book, do you know if her story is in production? Her life and legacy make Downton Abbey look like a trip to Hoboken on a rainy Tuesday night. Not unlike America itself she is bigger than life, fractious and filled with a conflicting ambition that is grounded in hard work and a resolute belief in a better future.

    Thanks for putting all this info together.

    Best Regards,

    Lucian Siedler
    Asheville, N.C.

    1. Hi Lucian – thanks for the comment! I’ll have to check the address out and listen to it. I admittedly, probably do not know nearly enough about Alva as I should :-). I do not know if her story is in production or not. Thanks again!

  45. Richard Hand

    So i don’t know where to begin,first of all my name is Richard Hand and I have traced my lineage to Phebe Hand and her son Cornelius Vanderbilt.What is really ironic my father was a well known artist he built alot of models of steamboats from scratch in my town Burlington,Iowa..I have a Hand genelogy page here.


    1. Hi Richard – thank you for commenting! I am so behind on updating this site, but how great that you found it! I am going to check out your group!

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