Cornelius Vanderbilt III

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Cornelius Vanderbilt, III

Birthdate: (68)
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Death: March 1, 1942 (68)
Miami Beach, Miami-Dade, Florida, USA (Suffering from a heart ailment during the lasts months of his life, he succumbed to a cerebral hemorrhage aboard the yacht "Ambassadress" on Biscayne Bay in Miami, at the age of 68. )
Place of Burial: Staten Island, Richmond, NY, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Cornelius Vanderbilt, II and Alice Claypoole Vanderbilt
Husband of Grace Graham Vanderbilt
Father of Cornelius Vanderbilt, IV and Grace Davis
Brother of Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt; William Henry Vanderbilt; Gertrude Whitney (Vanderbilt); Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt (RMS Lusitania victim); Reginald Vanderbilt and 2 others

Managed by: Carol Ann Selis
Last Updated:

About Cornelius Vanderbilt III

A member of the prominent American Vanderbilt family, Cornelius Vanderbilt III was a distinguished American military officer, inventor, engineer, and yachtsman. 

Called Neily by his close friends, Vanderbilt was born in New York City on September 5, 1873 to Alice Claypoole Gwynne and Cornelius Vanderbilt II. He was educated by private tutors at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire before attending Yale University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1895. Against his father's wishes, in August 1896 he married Grace Graham Wilson, the youngest child of New York banker Richard T. Wilson, Sr. Remaining at Yale until 1899, he earned a Bachelor of Philosophy degree and, having a great deal of interest in the mechanical and engineering aspects of his family’s railroad business, he also earned a degree in mechanical engineering.

Ostracized by his parents and even to some extent by his siblings, on his father's death in 1899, Neily Vanderbilt received only $500,000 in cash and the income from a $1 million trust fund. The bulk of his father's $70 million estate went to Neily's brother, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, who then helped undo some of his father's enmity and gave Neily the amount of $6 million. However, as a result of his parents' attitude towards his marriage, it would be 27 years after his father's death before he finally reconciled with his aging mother. Neily and Grace Vanderbilt remained married for the rest of their lives and had two children, Cornelius IV (1898–1974), who would marry seven times, and a daughter, Grace (Sept. 25, 1899-Jan. 28, 1964).

Neily Vanderbilt was an inveterate tinkerer with all things mechanical and during his lifetime he patented more than thirty inventions for improving locomotives and freight cars, including several which brought him a significant royalty income. Some of the most important were a corrugated firebox for locomotives that resulted in a substantial increase in fuel efficiency plus a cylindrical styled tank car for the transport of bulk oil as well as a revolutionary type of locomotive tender. In addition, on his travels to London and Paris he saw the potential for adapting their subway systems for New York City and partnered with August Belmont, Jr. to establish the Interborough Rapid Transit Company for the construction of the city's first subway.

In 1901, he was made a Second Lieutenant in the Twelfth Infantry Regiment of the New York National Guard and remained a member of the military for 33 years. He fought in the border wars with Mexico in 1916, and in World War I served overseas as commander of the 102nd Engineers. Rising through the ranks to Brigadier General, he was placed in command of the 25th Infantry Brigade. For his services during the War, he was given the Distinguished Service Medal by the government of the United States, the New York State Conspicuous Service Medal, made a commander of the Order of the Crown (Belgium) and awarded that country's Croix de Guerre. The government of France made him a Commander of the Legion of Honor.

Following the First World War, Vanderbilt and his wife frequently returned to Europe, becoming friends and guests of numerous members of European royalty including former Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, and his brother, Prince Henry of Prussia, King Albert I of Belgium, Crown Prince Olav of Norway, Queen Marie of Romania, Reza Pahlavi of Iran, and every British monarch since Queen Victoria.

As with other members of the Vanderbilt family, yachting was one of Neily Vanderbilt's favorite pastimes as an escape from a busy life that included a seat on the Board of Directors of a number of major American corporations. His yacht successfully defended the America's Cup in 1903. In 1910, he piloted his yacht to victory in the New York Yacht Club's race for the King Edward VII Cup.

In 1940, he sold the mansion he inherited in 1914 from his uncle George Washington Vanderbilt, located at 640 Fifth Avenue in New York City, to members of the Astor family. The family retained occupancy of the house there three years after his death from a cerebral hemorrhage while vacationing in Miami Beach, Florida aboard his yacht in 1942. The mansion, built in 1880 by William H. Vanderbilt, was originally one of two sharing that block designed with identical exteriors and together known as the "Twin Mansions." His wife Grace Vanderbilt lived there until 1944 when she moved to 1048 Fifth Avenue, now housing the Neuegalerie Museum. She died on January 7, 1953. They are buried together in the Vanderbilt family mausoleum in the Moravian Cemetery in New Dorp on Staten Island, New York.

Cornelius IV, journalist, the son of Cornelius III and Grace Wilson, a grandson of the younger Cornelius Vanderbilt, became a well-known writer, newspaper publisher, and movie producer. He was married seven times; Rachel Littleton, Mary Weir Logan, Helen Varner Anderson 1934-1940, Maria Feliza Pablos, Patricia Murphy Wallace, Anna Bernadetta Needham, Mary Lou Bristol. There were no children from any of his marriages. Cornelius Jr. is recorded being at the Moravian Cemetery Staten Island Richmond County New York

Source:  Wikipedia

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Cornelius Vanderbilt III's Timeline

September 5, 1873
New York City, New York, USA
April 30, 1898
Age 24
New York, Richmond, New York, United States
September 25, 1899
Age 26
New York, Richmond, New York, United States
March 1, 1942
Age 68
Miami Beach, Miami-Dade, Florida, USA
Staten Island, Richmond, NY, USA