Quest August 2012

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The Warburgs Clockwise from top left: Felix Moritz Warburg (1871-1937); bridesmaids at the wedding of Walter Nathan Rothschild to Carola Warburg in 1916; Mr. and Mrs. Felix Moritz Warburg, S.W. Rosendale, and Edward Warburg; Abraham Moritz Warburg, circa 1900; Frederick Warburg Peters with his mother, Phyllis Rothschild Farley, and daughter, Clelia Warburg Peters; a registration certificate for Siegmund George Warburg, who fled Germany in 1934, emigrating to the United Kingdom.

main competitor in the fur trade. Aside from the frequent speculation that Payne, a lifelong bachelor, was in love with his classmate, Whitney, the friendship led to the marriage of Whitney to Payne’s sister, Flora. Payne left college to join the Civil War, after which he went into business with another Clevelander named John D. Rockefeller. So great was Payne’s wealth by the time his sister married Whitney that he gifted the couple with a mansion on the southwest corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, where they kept an apartment for him. The Whitneys’ first-born son, Harry Payne, grew up to marry Gertrude Vanderbilt, who had been raised in the palace across the street. Whitney was a charmer with political, social, and financial ambitions. After Yale, he got a law degree from Harvard. Through his school connections (and 104 QUEST

Oliver Payne), he made a fortune, mainly as a speculator in mass transit in New York. From 1885 to 1889, he served as Secretary of the Navy under President Grover Cleveland. There was a brief romance with the notion of running for president, which may have been quashed by his reputation for being a philanderer. When Flora died in 1893 after a long, unhappy marriage, her husband soon took up with Edith Randolph, a beautiful widow with two children in her thirties who had previously been the mistress of John Pierpont Morgan. The relationship had its beginnings before Flora’s death. Oliver Payne was outraged by his brother-in-law’s liaison, so much so that he insisted the Whitney children cut their father out of their lives. He succeeded in splitting the children’s allegiance: Harry, the eldest, sided with his father and William Payne (thereafter known as

Payne) sided with his uncle. Ironically, only three years after marrying, Edith Randolph Whitney died a painful and lingering death in 1899 after being thrown from a horse. Her death did not heal the rift between Payne and Whitney, who died five years later in 1904 at age 63, leaving the bulk of his estate to his son, Harry, and daughter, Dorothy. During his lifetime, Whitney acquired thousands of acres of wilderness throughout New England, the Carolinas, and the Adirondacks, which were bequeathed to his son, Harry. The remaining, and still vast, acreage is owned today, a century later, by Marylou Whitney Hendrickson, the fifth and final wife of Harry and his wife Gertrude’s son, Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney. In 1902, Whitney’s second son, Payne, married Helen Hay, daughter of John Hay,

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