Vanderbilt Family History

Cherokee Cabin
Cherokee NC

The Biltmore Estate

The first Vanderbilt to arrive in the United States was Jan Aertson Van Derbilt, a dutch farmer who arrived in the United States in the late 17th century. The family followed in agricultural roots until Cornelius Van Derbelt transformed the family into one of the most famous American families of all time, as well as one of the wealthiest.

Born in 1794, the Vanderbilt rise to fortunes began when Cornelious borrowed $100 from his mother to purchase a small sailing vessel. He began operating a ferry business, and by the end of the second year, he had grown his fleet to 3 ships. With this small act of capitalism and entrepenuership, the wealth of the Vanderbilt family begins.

Cornelius then capitalized on the advantages of steam-ships compared to sailing vessels. He quickly amassed a fleet of steam-ships, and soon was a major influence in the commerce of New York City. He then turned his attentions to the railways, and before long held control of almost all major rails between New York City and the Great Lakes.

Cornelius then began a family tradition of financial contributions to differnet organizations. He donated $1,000,000 to Central University of the United Methodist Episcopal Church of the South, in Nasheville, Tennessee. The university showed its thanks by renaming itself to Vanderbilt University.

William Henry Vanderbilt was Cornelius' fourth child and first son. Growing up, he was quiet, patient, and conservative, and did not show early signs that he would posess the business acumen of his heirs. He began working for a bank at age 18, but became ill and through a physician's recommendation, moved to the isolated area of Staten Island. William managed the family farm on Staten Island for 20 years, but had an itch to enter his father's industry. In 1864, he moved his family to New York and took an active role in his father's empire.


The Biltmore House is located about 60 miles from Cherokee Cabin. It is one of the most visited historical sites in America, and we definitely recommend a trip to Asheville during your stay at our cabin rental.

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