John Jacob Astor
Birth Name: John Jacob Astor IV
Born: 13 July 1864 Died: 15 April 1912
Relationship Status: Married
Partner: Ava Lowle Willing
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About: John Jacob Astor IV (July 13, 1864 – April 15, 1912) was an American millionaire businessman, real estate builder, inventor, writer, a member of the prominent Astor family and a lieutenant colonel in the Spanish-American War. He died in the sinking of the RMS Titanic. John Jacob Astor IV was born on July 13, 1864. John Jacob IV was the great-grandson of John Jacob Astor whose fortune, made in opium, fur trade and real estate, made the Astor family one of the wealthiest families John Jacob Astor IV (July 13, 1864 – April 15, 1912) was an American millionaire businessman, real estate builder, inventor, writer, a member of the prominent Astor family and a lieutenant colonel in the Spanish-American War. He died in the sinking of the RMS Titanic.
John Jacob Astor IV was born on July 13, 1864. John Jacob IV was the great-grandson of John Jacob Astor whose fortune, made in opium, fur trade and real estate, made the Astor family one of the wealthiest families in the U.S. Astor attended St Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire and later attended Harvard University.
In 1891, John Jacob Astor married Ava Lowle Willing. The couple had two children — William Vincent Astor, born in 1891 and Ava Alice Muriel Astor, born in 1902 — before their divorce in 1909. Since divorce was considered a scandal back then, all in Society were shocked when Colonel Astor announced that he would marry again.
At the age of 47, the divorced John Jacob Astor married 18-year-old Madeleine Talmage Force on September 9, 1911. Madeleine was the sister of Katherine Emmons Force. They were married in his mother's ballroom at Beechwood, the family's Newport, Rhode Island house. Madeleine was a year younger than Colonel Astor's son Vincent. The couple took an extended honeymoon in Europe and Egypt to wait for the gossip to calm down. Among the few Americans who did not spurn him at this time was Margaret Brown, later fictionalized as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown". She accompanied the Astors to Egypt and France and, by coincidence, was called home to the U.S. at the same time the Astors also found it necessary to abbreviate their touring.
Among John Jacob Astor's accomplishments was A Journey in Other Worlds, a 1894 science fiction novel titled about a fictional account of life in the year 2088 on the planets Saturn and Jupiter. He also patented several inventions, including a bicycle brake in 1898, a "vibratory disintegrator" used to produce gas from peat moss, a pneumatic road–improver, and helped develop a turbine engine. Astor made millions in real estate. In 1897, Astor built the Astoria Hotel, "the world’s most luxurious hotel", which adjoined Colonel Astor’s cousin, William Waldorf Astor's, Waldorf Hotel in New York City; the complex became known as the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, coincidentally becoming the host location to the US inquiries into the sinking of the RMS Titanic, in which Astor was killed.
From 1894 to 1896, he was on the staff of Governor Levi P. Morton. In 1898, Astor was appointed a lieutenant colonel of a U.S. volunteers battalion he financed in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. During this time he allowed his yacht, the Nourmahal, to be used by the U.S. government. During the war, Colonel Astor appeared in the films President McKinley's Inspection of Camp Wikoff in 1898 and Col. John Jacob Astor, Staff and Veterans of the Spanish–American War in 1899.
His estate "Ferncliff", lately called "Astor Courts", north of the town center of Rhinebeck, New York, with a mile and a half of Hudson river frontage in the picturesque Lower Hudson River Valley, had been purchased piecemeal by his father in the mid-19th century; Astor was born there. His father's Italianate house of 1864 was partly rebuilt in 1904 to designs by Stanford White, of McKim, Mead, and White, retaining its conservative exterior, and a sports pavilion in Louis XVI style was added; the "Casino" or "Astor Courts" reportedly housed the first residential indoor swimming pool in the U.S., an indoor tennis court with vaulting of Guastavino tile and guest bedrooms; in the lower level were a bowling alley and a shooting range. Currently, the estate, reduced to 50 acres (200,000 m2) and renamed "Astor Courts", is a wedding venue. The wedding of Chelsea Clinton took place there, 31 July 2010.
While traveling Madeleine became pregnant, and wanting the child born in the U.S., the Astors boarded the Titanic as first-class passengers in Cherbourg, France, together with Colonel Astor's valet Victor Robbins, Madeleine's maid Rosalie Bidois and nurse Caroline Louise Endres. They also took their pet Airedale named Kitty.
The Astors were deeply fond of Kitty and had come close to losing her on a previous trip when she went missing in Egypt. Kitty did survive the sinking.
Astor was the wealthiest passenger on board the Titanic. A short while after the initial crash, Colonel Astor remarked to his wife that the ship had hit an iceberg. He reassured her that the damage did not appear serious.
Later, the Astors sat on the mechanical horses in the gymnasium. They wore their lifebelts but Colonel Astor had found another and cut the lining with a pen knife to show his skeptical wife what it was made of (it was presumed Madeleine was wary of the fragile lifebelts). When Second Officer Charles Lightoller arrived on A deck to finish loading Lifeboat 4, Astor helped his wife with her maid and nurse to board lifeboat 4 and then asked if he might join her because she was in 'a delicate condition'. Lightoller told him that men were not to be allowed to enter until all the women had been loaded. Astor stood back and just asked Lightoller which boat it was. After boat 4 was lowered at 1:55, Colonel Astor stood alone while others tried to free the remaining collapsible boats.
Astor was last seen on the starboard wing bridge. His body was later recovered by the steamer Mackay-Bennett on April 22 not far from the sinking. Reports persist that his body was recovered in a mangled state, but all who examined his body maintained that it was in perfect condition with no bruising. ... (more) (less)