Vanderbilt family was one of the wealthiest families of America in the Gilded Age. They lived in America, but their origin was Dutch. Cornelius Vanderbilt had huge shipping and railroad empires; their success began with those empires.
Jan Aertson, a Dutch farmer, was the progenitor of the family. He lived in the village De Bilt in the Netherlands. He emigrated to the Dutch colony of New Netherlands. There he became the servant of Van Kouwenhoven family. His village name was added to Van, and it created Van der Bilt. Jan’s great great great grandson Cornelius Vanderbilt made his family prominent.
During the 19th century, he left the school and started building his shipping and railroad empire. These made him the wealthiest man in America. He was born on 4th January 1877 in Manhattan, New York. After quitting school, he started to work with his father in his boat. He took $100 from his mother and bought a vessel, periauger. He began his business by ferrying passengers between Manhattan and Staten Island.
The family lived in Staten Island till the middle of 1800. In Nashville, the Vanderbilt family established Vanderbilt University. Some of Cornelius’s descendants worked on their family business, but some became prominent in other ways. Gloria Vanderbilt is a famous fashion designer, and his son Anderson Cooper is a journalist by profession.
At 18, he contracted with American Government during the war of the early 19th century. For his eagerness in the shipping business, he got the nickname, “Commodore.” In 1817 along with Thomas Gibbons, he started the steamship business. Aaron Ogden, who was operating Robert Fulton and Robert Livingston’s business worked with Thomas; he sued Gibbons.
However, the Supreme Court was in favor of Gibbons. In 1826 after the death of Gibbons’s Vanderbilt wanted to buy the company, but his son did not sell it to him. In the 1830s, he built many shipping lines in New York and earned a huge profit. After that, he shifted his business to other places in America.
At the time of his death, in 1877, Cornelius Vanderbilt was the wealthiest man in America.
Net worth of Vanderbilt Family
In the shipping business, Cornelius Vanderbilt earned more than $1000 in the first year. Cornelius will have been worth approx $200 billion if his wealth is calculated with America’s gross domestic product in the year of 1877. Presently, As of February 2024, the descendant of Vanderbilt family Gloria Vanderbilt, a fashion designer, has a net worth of $200 million.
On 19th December 1813, he got married to his first cousin Sofia Johnson. She was the daughter of Elizabeth Hand and Nathaniel Johnson. Cornelius and Sofia had thirteen children. Though he was a very successful businessman, he was not a good husband, and he was a terrible father too.
It is believed that he had cheated on his wife with prostitutes. He wants more sons, and he never really paid attention to his daughters. Twice he committed his son Jeremiah to a mental asylum, and he did the same to his wife when he was having a secret relationship with a younger governess.