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Ward McAllister's Society of Patriarchs - 1872-1897

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Founded in 1872 by Ward McAllister, the "Society of Patriarchs" was a group of 25 gentlemen from New York Society.The group represented men of worth, respectability, and responsibility.

Beginning with the 1885–1886 season, the Patriarchs threw a ball each year, known as the Patriarchs Ball, which each member was entitled to invite four ladies and five gentlemen to, thereby establishing the invitees as fit for society.The first Patriarchs Ball was held at Delmonico's, with the Balls, which were difficult to obtain invitations to, receiving significant press coverage.

The Society, which lasted for approximately twenty-five years, was disbanded on April 9, 1897, two years after McAllister's death, reportedly due to a lack of interest.The increase in the number of private ballrooms and desire for less structured entertainment led many of the younger generation to resist the Patriarchs and their balls, which came to be known as the "Dowager's balls."


  • Ward McAllister
  • William Collins Whitney
  • James Powell Kernochan
  • William Watts Sherman
  • George G. Haven
  • Charles Lanier,
  • August Belmont
  • Buchanan Winthrop
  • William R. Travers
  • Cornelius Vanderbilt II
  • J. Pierpont Morgan
  • DeLancey Astor Kane
  • Edward Neufville Tailer