John Jacob Astor IV was the richest man on the Titanic. He was an American business magnate, real estate developer, investor, writer, and lieutenant colonel in the Spanish-American War. He was also famously known as the richest man aboard the Titanic when it set sail in 1912. Astor made a fortune investing in real estate, and his net worth at the time of his death was estimated to be around $87 million, which is equivalent to $2.16 billion today. Let’s look at the life of one of the richest man in the world who died on the Titanic.
He inherited a large portion of his wealth from his father, William Backhouse Astor Sr., who was one of New York’s wealthiest men. John Jacob Astor used this inheritance to invest and acquire more wealth through businesses such as fur trading and manufacturing musical instruments. His investments allowed him to become one of America’s wealthiest citizens during the turn of the 20th century.
Astor was an American real estate investor who rose to prominence after investing in various business ventures such as fur trading and steamboats throughout the early 19th century. He also founded what would later become known as The Waldorf-Astoria hotel chain in New York City and held stakes in several companies including Rockefeller Center.
Early Life And Family
John Jacob Astor IV was born on July 13, 1864, at his parents’ country estate of Ferncliff in Rhinebeck, New York. He was the youngest of five children and the only son. The other four elder sisters were Emily, Helen, Charlotte, and Caroline. He was the great-grandson of America’s first multi-millionaire, fur trader John Jacob Astor.
William Backhouse Astor Sr.
William Backhouse Astor Sr. was an American real estate businessman, and the paternal grandfather of John Jacob Astor IV. He was born in New York City on April 10th, 1792, to fur trader and merchant William Waldorf Astor Sr., and Margaret Rebecca Armstrong.
As a prominent real estate businessman in New York City, William Backhouse Astor Sr. gained much of his wealth through property acquisitions and investments in up-and-coming neighborhoods like the Lower East Side. He also owned multiple businesses around the city, including a soap factory located on Canal Street. His success as a businessman allowed him to amass considerable wealth for himself and the Astor family, with some sources citing that he was worth over $10 million at the time of his death in 1875.
The Opening Of Astoria Hotel
John Jacob Astor was born into a wealthy family in New York City in 1864. His father, John Jacob Astor, had made his fortune through investing in real estate and the fur trade. After finishing school, young John chose to pursue a similar path as his father, investing heavily in real estate. He built up an impressive portfolio of properties over the next few decades, which enabled him to become one of the wealthiest people in America at the time.
In 1897, he decided to use his wealth to built the Astoria Hotel (later merged with the adjoining Waldorf Hotel) and make it one of the world’s most luxurious hotels of its day. Designed by renowned architect Charles McKim in Beaux Arts style, the Astoria Hotel quickly became one of Manhattan’s most sought-after destinations for travelers from all over the world. Indeed it is one of the finest hotel in America.
A Journey in Other Worlds
John Jacob Astor was an influential American entrepreneur and one of the richest men in America during the early 1800s. He made his fortune by investing in trade, real estate, and fur trading. While he was best known for his business acumen, he also had a creative side.
In 1894, Astor wrote a science-fiction novel titled A Journey in Other Worlds, which discussed the idea of life on other planets as well as advanced technologies such as airships and robots. Additionally, he was a notable inventor who patented several inventions, including a steamboat engine and improvements to the modern lighthouse system. His works made him a pioneer of early science fiction writing and technological advancement that would later inspire authors like Jules Verne.
At just 14 years old, Astor was sent to St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. Here, he underwent rigorous academic studies as well as sports and extracurricular activities for four years before being accepted into Harvard College at age 19. It was during his time at St. Paul’s that he went by his nickname “Jack.” He spoke fondly of his days at St. Paul’s throughout his life, crediting them with giving him the grounding necessary to become one of America’s most lauded businessmen.
As a result, he inherited a vast fortune at an early age and was given every luxury that money could buy. In addition to his wealth, Astor had a keen mind and studied mathematics and engineering at Harvard University. After graduation, he entered the family business and became one of the most successful businessmen in America. He invested heavily in real estate around New York City during its rapid expansion period prior to the 20th century. His financial acumen ensured that his family name continued to be synonymous with success for generations to come.
Colonel John Jacob Astor
His wealth allowed him to pursue his passion for military service, financing an artillery unit that became known as the Astor Battery during the Spanish-American War.
Astor served as a lieutenant colonel in charge of this unit and trained with them on Governor’s Island prior to their deployment overseas. He personally financed all of their supplies and uniforms, ensuring they had the best equipment available at that time. The battery took part in several battles during the war, including San Juan Hill, where they fought alongside Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders regiment. Afterward, they continued to serve our nation until being mustered out at the war’s end.
On February 17, 1891, New York City was witness to the marriage of John Jacob Astor IV and Ava Lowle Willing. Astor was a businessman who had made a fortune in real estate investments and hotels. He was also the great-grandson of the famous fur trader and investor, John Jacob Astor. His bride, Ava Lowle Willing, was a daughter of Edward Shippen Willing and Alice Barton. Her father had been an attorney for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, and her mother was descended from one of Philadelphia’s most notable families.
The wedding celebration brought together some of America’s wealthiest socialites to celebrate this union between two prominent families.
The marriage between the Astor family heiress and William (Willie) Backhouse Astor ended in November 1909. After almost 17 years together, the couple had grown apart and decided to end their union.
After getting divorced in 1909, Astor married Madeleine Talmage Force in 1911. John was the wealthiest person in America at the time of his marriage to Madeleine Talmage Force, who had been widowed in 1910 by her first husband, William D. Force. The couple enjoyed a lavish lifestyle with luxurious homes in New York City and Newport, Rhode Island.
Madeleine was born into one of New York’s oldest families, but she was not wealthy. She became a member of high society after marrying John Jacob Astor and joined him on a number of philanthropic endeavors, including establishing the Astor Foundation for Mental Hygiene, which provided funds to develop mental health treatments and research around the world.
Their Last Journey – Titanic
The story of Madeleine Force Astor, her husband John Jacob Astor IV and their unborn child is one that has captured the hearts and imaginations of many. In 1912, while traveling in Europe, Madeleine became pregnant with the couple’s first child. Wanting to ensure that the baby was born on American soil, they decided to board RMS Titanic on her maiden voyage to New York City. Despite warnings from friends and family cautioning them against taking the journey due to safety concerns, Madeleine and John Jacob boarded the ship in Cherbourg, France on April 10th 1912.
Aboard the fateful RMS Titanic, millionaires John and Madeleine Astor set sail with three members of their luxurious entourage. The Astors were accompanied by Victor Robbins, the couple’s valet; Rosalie Bidois, Mrs. Astor’s maid; and Caroline Louise Endres, her nurse. As part of the elite first-class passengers on board the ill-fated voyage in April 1912, these three individuals served as accompanying staff to one of America’s richest people at the time.
Victor Robbins was a long-time employee of Mr. Astor’s since his service began in 1902. With impeccable loyalty and thoughtfulness for his employer, Robbins often attended to Mr. Astor’s needs while aboard the ship during its voyage from Southampton to New York City. Meanwhile Mrs.
The RMS Titanic struck an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean and began to sink. In the middle of this chaos and destruction, New York lawyer Isaac Frauenthal provided valuable advice to John Jacob Astor IV and his wife Madeleine. When Frauenthal realized that the ship was sinking, he advised Astor to awaken his sleeping wife so they both could take a boat off the Titanic.
Frauenthal accompanied Astor and his wife down to one of the lower decks where they were able to board a lifeboat. As he saw them getting into their lifeboat, he asked another passenger if they needed assistance. When they declined help, he instead stayed on board with many of other passengers as the ship went down into darkness.
When Second Officer Charles Lightoller arrived on A Deck to finish loading Lifeboat 4, he was reunited with Titanic’s wealthiest passenger, John Jacob Astor. Astor had already been putting women and children into the lifeboat when it had first loaded up on the port side of the ship. But now, as Lightoller joined him in assisting more survivors onto the lifeboat, Astor could not help but worry about his own family.
Lightoller soon realized that Astor’s pregnant wife Madeleine was still on board and rushed to help her and her three companions onto Lifeboat 4. With great care and respect for his fellow passenger, Lightoller assisted Mrs. Astor into the boat alongside her maid and nurse.
Astor wanted to be with his pregnant wife but officer Charles Lightoller told him that men were not to be allowed to board until all the women and children had been loaded.
Lightoller was famously strict with this rule, refusing even those with valid tickets passage onto a lifeboat unless they were women or children. This unwavering decision has been praised over time as it ensured that more lives could be saved due to the limited capacity of each boat.
Astor Begged To Join His Wife
According to Titanic passenger Archibald Gracie IV, Mr. Astor helped his wife climb through the window. She heard Astor desperately begging to join his wife on board, but his request was denied.
According to witnesses, Mr. Astor asked Second Officer Charles Lightoller for permission to board the boat with his wife, Madeleine Force Astor, but was refused. Lightoller reportedly told him that no more men were allowed on board and that he should remain calm as he would have a greater chance of survival if he stayed behind. The desperate plea from Mr. Astor fell on deaf ears, however; strict orders had been issued that only women and children would be allowed onto lifeboats.
Mr. Astor was standing at the dock, and asked about the number of this boat so he may find her afterwards. He was told “no. 4”.
He was last seen alive on the starboard bridge wing, smoking a cigarette with fellow passenger Jacques Futrelle. The two were enjoying their last moments together before what would turn out to be a fateful night for all of those on board. Little did they know, their journey would soon come to an abrupt end when disaster struck just hours later.
The body of Mr. Astor was later recovered by cable ship Mackay-Bennett and identified through documents found in his pocket.
Madeleine Force Astor and two of her staff members (her maid and her nurse) survived. While Astor, his valet, Victor Robbins, Kitty, and Futrelle lost their lives.
Astor’s Body Was Recovered
For days his family were gripped in fear and sorrow as they awaited news of his whereabouts. On April 22nd 1912, their worst fears were confirmed when Astor’s body was recovered by the cable ship Mackay-Bennett. Astor’s success was so great that he was identified by the initials “J.J.A” sewn onto a label of his jacket.
It is said that Astor developed a passion for business at an early age, working with his father as a butcher before beginning to make investments himself. In 1785, he opened up a fur trade store in New York City and began expanding westward with other ventures, such as investing heavily in land speculation on Manhattan’s West Side. He was the wealthiest passenger aboard.
Astor’s Second Son
Madeleine Astor, the widow of John Jacob Astor IV, was laid to rest in Trinity Church Cemetery in the heart of Manhattan on August 22, 1940. While Astor was buried in Trinity Church Cemetery in Manhattan, New York City.
She was aged 93 at the time of her death. This remarkable woman was associated with one of the most famous maritime disasters in history. Astor’s wife survived the titanic, and four months after her husband’s death, gave birth to their son.
Items Discovered With Astor’s Body
EFFECTS – Gold watch; cuff links, gold with diamond; diamond ring with three stones; £225 in English notes; $2440 in notes; £5 in gold; $7 in silver; 5 ten-franc pieces; a gold pencil; a pocketbook.
FIRST CLASS. NAME- J.J. ASTOR IV
In conclusion, John Jacob Astor IV was the richest man on Titanic, and one of its many victims. His death is a reminder of just how quickly life can be taken away from us due to circumstances beyond our control. It is also a testament to his courage, as he chose to stay with his pregnant wife until the very end. In his memory, we should strive to live life to the fullest, no matter the risks or potential for disaster. Astor name will always be remembered whenever we’ll talk about the sinking of the Titanic.