The Vanderbilt family is synonymous with wealth. So it is hard to imagine that the Vanderbilt fortune started with a borrowed $100. Jan Aertsen van der Bilt immigrated from Holland to America around 1650. His descendents were all content to be farmers on Staten Island. They all lived a good and modest life, satisfied with their linage of agriculture.
That is until Cornelius the second son of Phoebe and Cornelius Van Derbilt, born in 1794 on Staten
Cornelius became the first Vanderbilt associated with wealth. An entrepreneur and a man that could envision the future, Cornelius saw the advantages of steamships, adding to his fortune. He became known as the Commodore because of his determination and his strong will to succeed. This success allowed him to move from New York City back to Staten Island and into a significant residence.
Before long Cornelius was looking else where to invest his money. The railway was changing the way American's traveled and opening new doors. Seeing this great opportunity, he capitalized on it. By 1867 he had major control over the New York Central Railroad, and controlled all the major
Cornelius and his first wife, Sophia, had 13 children, 37 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren. The astute owner of a $100 million estate, the Commodore was the wealthiest entrepreneur of his time. He left most of his estate to his eldest son, William Henry who had the Biltmore House designed and built in Ashville, North Carolina.
Come back next month to read what prompted William to built the castle set in the Appalachian mountains.
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