Anson Phelps Stokes, Sr.

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Anson Phelps Stokes, Sr.

Birthdate: (75)
Birthplace: New York, New York Co., NY
Death: June 29, 1913 (75)
230 Madison Ave, New York, New York Co, USA
Place of Burial: New Haven, CT
Immediate Family:

Son of James Boulter Stokes and Caroline Olivia Stokes
Husband of Helen Louisa Stokes
Father of Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes; James Graham Phelps Stokes, M.D.; Rev. Anson P. Stokes, Jr.; Ethel Valentine Phelps Hoyt; Sarah Maria Phelps Halkett and 4 others
Brother of Thomas Stokes; William Earl Dodge Stokes, Sr.; Caroline Phelps Stokes; Olivia Eggleston Phelps Stokes and Elizabeth Slade

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About Anson Phelps Stokes, Sr.

Anson Phelps Stokes (February 22, 1838–June 28, 1913) was a merchant, banker, publicist, philanthropist, and became a multimillionaire. Born in New York City, he was the son of James Boulter and Caroline (Phelps) Stokes; brother of William Earl Dodge Stokes and Olivia Eggleston Phelps Stokes. One of his grandfathers was London merchant Thomas Stokes, one of the 13 founders of the London Missionary Society, and Anson Stokes later actively supported the American Bible Society, the American Tract Society and the American Peace Society. His other grandfather, Anson Greene Phelps, was a New York merchant, born in Connecticut and descended from an old Massachusetts family.


As a boy he started his career working in the family business, Phelps, Dodge & Company, a mercantile establishment founded by his grandfather Phelps and his uncle, William Earle Dodge, in the 1830s. The company began importing and trading in metal and eventually became a mining business.

In 1861, he became a partner and also a member of the firm of Phelps, James & Company in Liverpool. In 1879, he organized Phelps, Stokes & Company, a bank.

Phelps became involved in the mining interests of Phelps Dodge Corporation in the American West. In 1874 the Nevada legislature, after a bitter debate, approved a bond project to extend a railroad line to Austin, Nevada (the state senator sponsoring the bill was secretary for a mining company that needed the rail line). The legislature authorized Lander County to grant a $200,000 bond for the project, but the authorization would expire after five years. It wasn't until after Stokes came to Austin that the project got started 4 ½ years later. Stokes brought in General James H. Ledlie, a former Union officer in the Civil War, to direct the project, and crews went to work desperately, only to bring the line within 2 miles (3.2 km) of the Austin town limits with less than a day left before the deadline. An emergency meeting of the Austin Town Board extended the town limits by 2 miles (3.2 km), allowing the last rails to be laid just minutes before the deadline. The 92 miles (148 km) line from Battle Mountain to Austin became the Nevada Central Railroad.

In 1897, when Stokes still had a financial interest in several of the local mines, he built "Stokes Castle", a three-story stone tower just outside of Austin. The building was only occupied for a month, then fell into disrepair.


Anson married Helen Louisa, daughter of Isaac Newton Phelps, on October 17, 1865. In 1893, he built Shadowbrook, a 100 room Berkshire Cottage at Lenox, Massachusetts. Shadowbrook was so large that a family anecdote tells of Anson Phelps Stokes Jr. being told by his mother while playing outside one day that because there was a storm gathering he should come inside and bicycle in the attic. In 1902, Stokes bought land at the southern tip of Long Neck, a small peninsula in Darien, Connecticut and built Brick House, where he and his family lived for many years. (Andrew Carnegie occupied Brick House for several summers, and in 1917 he bought Anson Phelps' estate Shadowbrook, where he died in 1919.) The Stokes family also had a summer house, or Great Camp, on Upper St. Regis Lake in the Adirondacks, where family members spend their summers to this day.

Anson lost one of his legs 15 years previously in a horse-riding accident, when he was thrown against a tree and his leg crushed. At his death on June 29, 1913, in New York City, Anson Stokes was survived by nine children: four sons and five daughters. One of his sons was also named Anson Phelps Stokes (1874–1958), an educator and clergyman. Another was Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes. His personal wealth was estimated at USD$250,000,000 at the time of his death, or about USD$5,537,037,037 in today's dollars.

Banker and businessman in NYC, partner in Phelps Dodge & Company and Phelps Stokes & Company


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Anson Phelps Stokes, Sr.'s Timeline

February 22, 1838
New York, New York Co., NY
April 11, 1867
Age 29
New York, New York, New York, United States
Age 30
March 18, 1872
Age 34
New York, New York, NY, USA
April 13, 1874
Age 36
New Brighton, Staten Island, NY, USA
February 14, 1876
Age 37
Staten Island, NY, USA
Age 39
February 13, 1881
Age 42
January 10, 1887
Age 48