Elizabeth Holmes Family History


Elizabeth Anne Holmes was born on February 3rd, 1984 to Christian and Noel Holmes in Washington DC.

Her early aspirations seemingly focused around creating wealth. As a child she had told relatives that she wanted to be a billionaire.  During her teen years this need to make money was, it was said, reinforced by seeing her father getting fired from his job at Enron after its collapse in 2001.

She began this process by dropping out of Stanford University in 2004 and launching her own biotechnology company Theranos.  Her parents were able to provide her with some early seed money and connections.

Before everything fell apart, she had – amazingly – raised more than $400 million in venture capital, created a company valued at $9 billion, and ended up on the cover of Forbes magazine as the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire.  Many saw Theranos as the next big thing that was coming out of Silicon Valley and rushed to invest.

Theranos boasted that it had revolutionized blood testing by developing methods that could use surprisingly small volumes of blood, such as from a fingerprick.

Not true.  In 2018 the SEC charged Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes with deceiving investors by massive fraud through false or exaggerated claims about the accuracy of the company’s blood-testing technology.  Elizabeth herself was convicted of defrauding investors in 2022 and sentenced to eleven years in prison later that year.

Elizabeth Holmes and Sunny Balwani

Elizabeth had first met Sunny Balwani in 2002 on a college trip to China. She was eighteen, Sunny thirty-seven and had already successfully founded and sold a tech company.

Two years later, she left Stanford in her sophomore year and moved in with Sunny to get Theranos off the ground.  He had guaranteed a loan to Theranos and would join the company in 2009. “I really thought I’d be safe,” she later said. “My friends at school and that whole universe, it didn’t exist anymore when I was with him. It was all gone.”

Sunny’s spell lasted for a long time.  In 2015, when the Wall Street Journal first reported the serious flaws in Theranos’s technology, Debbie Sterling – a classmate of hers from Stanford – reached out to her, asking if she needed someone to talk to.  She replied: ‘I don’t have any friends. I only work – from the first thing in the morning until late at night.”

A year later, Theranos shut down its clinical laboratory, Sunny Balwani resigned, and Elizabeth moved out of their mansion into a two-bedroom rental apartment.

Her father commented: “Elizabeth had lived in complete isolation with Sunny.  It’s hard to explain the extent to which she missed so much of the growing up that someone does in their 20’s.”

A Danish and a Jewish Heritage

Elizabeth’s surname sounds English, but isn’t.  Instead, her ancestry combines Danish and Hungarian Jewish immigrant elements in America.  And it contains much wealth creation and extravagance along the way.

Holm Christensen, a miller back in Denmark, and his wife Karen brought with them their son – who became Christian Holmes in America – when they immigrated to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1872.

Christian was seventeen at that time.  At nineteen he embarked on a medical career in Cincinnati and trained as an oculist.   It was in his medical capacity that he first met Charles Fleischmann, the wealthy Jewish industrialist.  He married his daughter Bettie in 1892.

Charles Fleischmann, from Budapest in Hungary, had come to America earlier in 1866.  Two years later in Cincinnati, he and his brother Max made America’s first commercially produced yeast.  His Fleischmann Yeast Company would eventually become the world’s leading yeast producer.  The product revolutionized baking in a way that has made possible today’s mass production and consumption of bread.  It also made the family rich.

After Charles died in 1897, the company continued under his sons Julius and later Max until it was acquired by Standard Brands in 1929.  Julius became Cincinnati’s youngest Mayor in 1900 and served until 1905.  He was also known as a bon vivant, sailor and sportsman.  Brother Max served in the Spanish-American War, honeymooned at the Arctic Circle, and owned 22 yachts in his lifetime. When he developed cancer at age 74, he shot and killed himself.

The brothers’ nephew Raoul Fleischmann, using the wealth generated by the family business, provided the funding for the launch of the New Yorker magazine.  Raoul was the magazine’s publisher until his death in 1969.

Christian and Bettie Holmes

Dr. Christian and Bettie Holmes, married in 1892, began their private hospital in Cincinnati sometime in the 1890’s.  Christian then was the driving force behind the creation of Cincinnati General Hospital that was started in 1915.  However, Christian himself died five years later of cancer in 1920.

After his death Bettie moved to Long Island and became known as a philanthropist and art collector.  Her children – Carl, Christian and Julius – grew up rich on the Fleischmann inheritance.

The eldest Carl was Treasurer of the company.  He had homes in Long Island and later in Bermuda.  He was married three times, although the first two marriages did not last very long.

Christian Holmes II in Hawaii

In 1935 Bettie bought Hawaiian Tuna Packers for her second son Christian II reportedly “to keep him occupied.”  He in fact found his third wife there, Mona Hinds, who was descended from Hawaiian royalty.

Christian originally purchased Coconut Island, a small island in Kaneohe Bay off Oahu, for a tuna-packing factory.  But he had the desire to transform the island into his own private paradise. He imported hundreds of exotic plants and trees and constructed a large saltwater swimming pool equipped with a slide and a diving board.

He brought a 4-masted schooner to Coconut Island and set up a bar and movie theater. This boat was used in the movie Wake of the Red Witch starring John Wayne. He erected outdoor bars at various points around the island, had a bowling alley built, and reconstructed a shooting gallery that he had bought at an amusement park in San Francisco.  Coconut Island even housed a small zoo for a short time. Animal residents included donkeys, a giraffe, monkeys, and a baby elephant.

But the man who created this island paradise was a troubled soul. Despite his fortune, Christian Holmes could not keep away from pills and alcohol. He was just 47 years old when he died from a pills overdose in New York in 1944.  His wife Mona, from whom he was divorced that year, lived on in Hawaii until 1987, dying there at the age of ninety.

Christian Holmes – from III to IV

His son Christian III became the owner of one of the largest ranches in the world, located in Paraguay. He also owned property in Mexico and Texas and he too was married three times.  The most long-lasting of these marriages was with his third wife. Wini Ivy from Texas, whom he had married in 1970.  They made their home in Houston where he died in 1996.

Christian IV, his only son and Elizabeth’s father, was born in New York in 1946.  He was working in Washington DC where he married his wife Noel and where his daughter Elizabeth was born.  The family later moved to Houston where Christian took up a position with the energy giant Enron.  Enron collapsed in 2001 amid accusations of company fraud and he had to move on with his life.

Elizabeth Holmes’ Family Tree

  • Holm Christensen (1824-1887) from Denmark m. Karen Mikkelsen (1828-1903)
  • – Christian Holmes (1855-1920)
  • Charles Fleischmann (1835-1897) from Hungary m. Henrietta Robertson (1845-1924) in New York in 1869
  • – Julius Fleischmann (1871-1925) m. Lily Ackerland; rem. Laura Hyland
  • – Bettie Fleischmann (1873-1941)
  • – Maximillian (Max) Fleischmann (1877-1951) m. Sarah Sherlock
  • Dr. Christian Rasmus Holmes I from Denmark m. Bettie Fleischmann in Cincinnati in 1892
  • – Carl Holmes (1893-1984) m. Margaret Avis; rem. Lemma Smith and Nancy Ryan
  • – Christian Holmes (1897-1944)
  • – Julius (Jay) Holmes (1903-1981) m. Francis (Sally) Peters
  • Christian Rasmus Holmes II from Cincinnati m. Albertina Peck (1898-1966) in New York in 1922; rem. Katherine MacDonald (1891-1956) in New York in 1928 and Mona Hind (1896-1987) in Hawaii in 1935
  • – Christian Holmes (1923-1996)
  • – William Holmes (1926-2000)
  • – Anne Holmes
  • Christian Rasmus Holmes III from New York m. Elizabeth (Betty) Lott (1924-2001) in New York in 1944; rem. Arlene Dahl (1926-2021) in Mexico in 1960 and Winifred (Wini) Ivy (1925-2019) in Los Angeles in 1970
  • – Christian Holmes (b. 1946)
  • Christian Rasmus Holmes IV m. Noel Anne Daoust (b. 1951) in Virginia in 1975
  • – Elizabeth Holmes (b. 1984) and Billy Evans (b. 1991) from 2017 – son William (b. 2021) and daughter Invicta (b. 2022)
  • – Christian Holmes V (b. 1988)


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Written by Colin Shelley

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