Caroline Webster Astor

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Caroline Webster Astor (Schermerhorn)

Birthdate: (78)
Birthplace: New York, New York, New York, United States
Death: October 30, 1908 (78)
New York, New York, New York, United States
Place of Burial: New York, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Abraham Schermerhorn and Helen Schermerhorn
Wife of William Backhouse Astor Jr.
Mother of Emily Van Alen; Charlotte Augusta Astor; Helen Schermerhorn Astor; Caroline Schermerhorn Wilson; John Jacob Astor, IV and 1 other
Sister of Henry Schermerhorn; Augustus van Courtland Schermerhorn; Archibald Schermerhorn; Elizabeth Jones; Anna White Suydam and 3 others

Occupation: "The Mrs. Astor"; socialite
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Caroline Webster Astor

From Wikipedia:

Caroline Webster "Lina" Schermerhorn (September 21, 1830 – October 30, 1908) was a prominent American socialite of the last quarter of the 19th century. Famous for being referred to later in life as "the Mrs. Astor" or simply "Mrs. Astor", she was the wife of businessman, racehorse breeder/owner, and yachtsman William Backhouse Astor, Jr. (1829–1892). Their son Colonel John Jacob Astor IV perished on the RMS Titanic. Through her marriage, she was a prominent member of the Astor family and matriarch of the male line of American Astors.

Childhood and youth

Lina was born into New York City's Dutch aristocracy, descendants of the city's original settlers. Her father, Abraham Schermerhorn, and the extended Schermerhorn family were engaged in shipping. Lina's mother was Helen White. At the time of her birth, her family lived at 1 Greenwich Street, near the Bowling Green, but the population growth and increasing urbanization of lower Manhattan in the 1830s led her family to move farther north to 36 Bond Street, near the then-ultra fashionable "Lafayette Place," which had been developed by her future husband's paternal grandfather, fur-trader John Jacob Astor. She married William Backhouse Astor, Jr. in 1853. Her husband was the middle son of real estate businessman William Backhouse Astor, Sr. (1792–1875) and Margaret Rebecca Armstrong (1800–1872).

Housewife and socialite

Although popularly imagined as wholly preoccupied with "Society", for the first several decades of her married life Lina Astor was principally occupied with raising her five children and running her household, typical of women of her class in mid 19th century New York City. In 1862 she and her husband built a four-bay townhouse in the newly fashionable brownstone style at 350 Fifth Avenue, the present site of the Empire State Building, next door to her husband's older brother, John Jacob Astor III; the two families were next-door neighbors for 28 years although the Astor brothers did not get along. The Astors also maintained a "summer cottage" in Newport, Rhode Island, a mansion called Beechwood, which had a ballroom grand enough to fit "The 400" - the most fashionable socialites of the day.


  1. Emily Astor (1854–1881), who married sportsman/politician James John Van Alen and had three children
  2. Helen Schermerhorn Astor (1855–1893), who married diplomat James Roosevelt "Rosey" Roosevelt (half-brother of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and had two children
  3. Charlotte Augusta Astor (1858–1920), who married James Coleman Drayton and had four children, later married George Ogilvy Haig
  4. Caroline Schermerhorn "Carrie" Astor (1861–1948), who married Marshall Orme Wilson (brother of banker Richard Thornton Wilson, Jr. and socialite Grace Graham Wilson) and had two sons
  5. John Jacob "Jack" Astor IV (1864–1912), who married socialite Ava Lowle Willing and had two children, later married socialite Madeleine Talmage Force (sister of real estate businesswoman/socialite Katherine Emmons Force) and had one son

Death, grave, and legacy

By the time she moved into her new house facing Central Park, at the corner of 65th Street, her husband had died, and she lived with her son and his family. Astor spent her last several years suffering from periodic dementia, and she died at age 78 on October 30, 1908 and was interred in the Trinity Church Cemetery located in the far northern section of Manhattan. In addition to her uptown burial plot, a commemorative 39 foot tall (11.9 m) cenotaph erected in her memory by her youngest daughter Carrie (according to the inscription dated A.D. MDMXIV) is located within the small churchyard cemetery at the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street, in which many prominent early Americans are buried.

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Caroline Webster Astor's Timeline

September 21, 1830
New York, New York, New York, United States
June 16, 1854
Age 23
November 27, 1858
Age 28
United States
Age 27
October 10, 1861
Age 31
New York, New York, United States
July 13, 1864
Age 33
Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York, United States
October 30, 1908
Age 78
New York, New York, New York, United States
October 30, 1908
Age 78
New York, New York, United States