Saturday, July 13, 2013
July 13 - John Jacob Astor IV
Multimillionaire businessman John Jacob Astor IV was born on July 13, 1864, in Rhinebeck, NY, north of New York City. His great-grandfather and namesake came to America in 1783 and became its first millionaire as a fur trader. Apart from managing a vast family fortune, Astor wrote a quasi-scientific novel, developed several mechanical devices and built New York’s fabled Astoria Hotel (1897). After he married his second wife, 18-year-old Madeleine, in 1911, he took her to Europe to escape disapproving gossip. They set out to return home in April 1912 on the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic, which they boarded with their retinue at Cherbourg. Madeleine, who was pregnant, survived. Astor did not. He left most of his $85 million estate (more than $2 billion today) to his son, Vincent, who was older than his widowed stepmother. Astor’s body was recovered 10 days after the sinking. Dressed in a blue serge suit, his possessions included a gold watch, gold and diamond cuff links, a diamond ring with three stones, and £225 and $2,440 in cash.