William Kissam Vanderbilt

William Kissam Vanderbilt

Infobox Person

name = William Kissam Vanderbilt
birth_date = birth date|1849|12|12|mf=y
birth_place =
death_date = death date and age|1920|7|22|1849|12|12|mf=y
death_place = Paris, France
occupation = Horse Breeder
spouse = Alva Erskine Smith (1875-1895) Anne Harriman Sands Rutherfurd (1903-1920) (his death)
children = Consuelo Vanderbilt William Kissam Vanderbilt II Harold Stirling Vanderbilt

William Kissam Vanderbilt (December 12 1849 – July 22 1920) was a member of the prominent United States Vanderbilt family.

The second son of William Henry Vanderbilt, from whom he inherited $55 million, he was for a time active in the management of the family railroads, though not much after 1903. His sons William Kissam Vanderbilt II (1878-1944) and Harold Stirling Vanderbilt (1884-1970) were the last to be active in the railroads, the latter losing a proxy battle for the New York Central Railroad in the 1950s.

William K. Vanderbilt's first wife was Alva Erskine Smith (1853-1933), who he married on April 20 , 1875. Born in 1853 in Mobile, Alabama, to a slave-owning Alabama family, she was the mother of his children and was instrumental in forcing their daughter Consuelo (1877-1964) to marry the 9th Duke of Marlborough in 1895. Not long after this the Vanderbilts divorced with Alva marrying Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont. Interestingly, Willie K's father second marriage was to a Mobile girl: Frank Crawford.

In 1903, William K. married Anne Harriman, daughter of Railroad Tycoon Oliver Harriman and widow to Sportsman Samuel Stevens Sands (killed riding to hounds in 1889) and also widow to Lewis Morris Rutherfurd, Jr., son of the astronomer Lewis Morris Rutherfurd. Her second husband died in Switzerland in 1901. She had two sons by her first marriage and two daughters by her second marriage. She had no children by Vanderbilt.

After the death of his brother Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1899 he was generally regarded as head of the Vanderbilt family.

Like other members of his wealthy family, he built magnificent Vanderbilt houses. His homes included "Idle Hour" (1900) on Long Island, New York and "Marble House" (1892), designed by Richard Morris Hunt--who also designed his 660 Fifth Avenue mansion in Manhattan (1883)--in Newport. He was a co-owner of the yacht "Defender" which won the 1895 America's Cup. William K. Vanderbilt was a founder and president of the New Theatre.New International Encyclopedia

Thoroughbred horse racing

William Kissam Vanderbilt was one of the founders of the The Jockey Club. He was a shareholder and president of the Sheepshead Bay Race Track in Brooklyn, New York and the owner of a successful racing stable.

In 1896 he built the American Horse Exchange at 50th Street (Manhattan) and Broadway. In 1911 he was leased it (and eventually sold it to) the Shubert Organization who then transformed it into the Winter Garden Theatre. [ [http://www.shubertorganization.com/theatres/winter_garden.asp Winter Garden Theatre - shubertorganization.com - Retrieved April 3, 2008] ]

After his divorce from Alva, he moved to France where he built a château and established the Haras du Quesnay horse racing stable and breeding farm near Deauville in France's famous horse region of Lower Normandy. Among the horses he owned was the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame filly Maskette, purchased from Castleton Farm in Lexington, Kentucky for broodmare services at his French breeding farm.

Vanderbilt's horses won a number of important races in France including:
* Critérium de Maisons-Laffitte: Prestige (1905), Northeast (1907), Montrose II (1911)
* Critérium de Saint-Cloud: Illinois II (1901), Marigold (1902)
* Grand Critérium: Prestige (1905), Montrose II (1911)
* Grand Prix de Deauville: Turenne (1904), Maintenon (1906)
* Grand Prix de Paris: Northeast (1908)
* Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud: Maintenon (1906), Sea Sick (1908), Oversight (1910)
* Poule d'Essai des Poulains: McKinley (1919)
* Prix de Guiche: Negofol (1909), McKinley (1919)
* Prix de la Forêt: Prestige (1905), Montrose II (1911, dead-heat), Pétulance (1911, dead-heat)
* Prix du Jockey Club: Maintenon (1906), Sea Sick (1908), Negofol (1909), Tchad (1919)
* Prix Eugène Adam: Alpha (1903), Maintenon (1906)
* Prix Boiard: Prestige (1906), Maintenon (1907) et Tchad (1920)
* Prix Jean Prat: Prestige (1906)
* Prix Kergorlay: Turenne (1904), Maintenon (1906), Sea Sick (1909, 1910)
* Prix Lagrange: Prestige (1906)
* Prix Morny: Prestige (1905), Messidor III (1909) et Manfred (1910)
* Prix Robert Papin: Prestige (1905), Montrose II (1911), Gloster (1912)
* Prix La Rochette: Schuyler (1907), Manfred (1910), Brume (1910), Pétulance (1911)
* Prix Royal-Oak: Maintenon (1906), Reinhart (1910)

William Kissam Vanderbilt died in Washington DC in 1920. His remains were brought home and interred in the Vanderbilt family vault in the Moravian Cemetery at New Dorp on Staten Island, New York.


* Case, Carole - "The Right Blood: America's Aristocrats in Thoroughbred Racing" (2000) Rutgers University Press ISBN 0-8135-2840-2

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