Vanderbilt Surname Genealogy

The German and Dutch word bulte
meaning “mound” and describing someone who lived by a low hill was the
basis of the placename of De Bilt that lay just northeast of Utrecht in

Vanderbilt Resources on

Vanderbilt Ancestry

Jan Aertszoon or Aertson was a Dutch
farmer from the village of De Bilt near Utrecht who emigrated to the
Dutch colony of New Netherland as an indentured servant in 1650.
Jan’s village name was later added to the Dutch “Van der” (from the) to
create “Van der Bilt.”

America. The prominence
of the Vanderbilt family in America began with Cornelius Vanderbilt,
the fourth of nine children born in 1794 to a Staten Island family of
modest means which ran a ferry service to Manhattan. His father,
the first to spell his name as van Derbilt, was born in 1764 and was
reared in the home of an uncle where he worked for his room and

left school at eleven and started his business career with a steamboat,
the Bellona,
which operated in a ferry service between New Brunswick in Canada and
New York.
He went on to build a shipping and railroad empire that, during the
century, made him one of the wealthiest men in the world.

Although the Commodore himself always
occupied a modest home, members of his family would use their wealth to
build a
resplendent family tomb at the
cemetery on Staten Island
and a number of magnificent mansions
– on Fifth
Avenue in New York, in Newport, and along the Hudson.
The family had grown immeasurably richer by
the time of the death of Cornelius’s son William.

H. Vanderbilt died suddenly in December
1885, only eight years after his father.
The world was astounded to learn that he had more than doubled
family fortune in that short time, leaving him the richest man in the

Their descendants
to dominate what came to be known as
the Gilded Age, a period when Vanderbilt men were the merchant princes
American life through their prominence in the business world, in New York society, and
as patrons of
the arts throughout the world.

Vanderbilts showed less interest in business and more in yachting,
racing, and fast cars. Much of the
Vanderbilt wealth ended up being dissipated over the 20th
century. A
distant cousin Arthur T. Vanderbilt published Fortune’s Children:
The Fall
of the House of Vanderbilt
in 1989.
Only Gloria Vanderbilt
her son Anderson Cooper have made names for themselves in the modern

Vanderbilt Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Vanderbilt Names

Cornelius Vanderbilt, known as the Commodore, build a shipping
and railroad empire that, during the 19th century, made him one of the
wealthiest men in the world.
Harold Vanderbilt was a
successful sportsman, winning yachting America’s Cup on no fewer than
three occasions.
Amy Vanderbilt, indirectly
related to the main Vanderbilt family, was an American authority on
etiquette. In 1952 she published her best-selling book Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette.

Select Vanderbilts Today

  • 600 in America (most numerous in New York)




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