Loucks-Wallace Genealogy - Person Sheet
Loucks-Wallace Genealogy - Person Sheet
NameJohn Jacob ASTOR IV
Birth10 Jun 1864, Ferncliff, Rhinebeck, Duchess County, NY
Death15 Apr 1912, At Sea On The HMS Titanic
FatherWilliam Backhouse ASTOR Jr. (1830-1892)
Notes for John Jacob ASTOR IV

John Jacob Astor IV was born to William Backhouse Astor, Jr. and Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor. John Jacob IV was the great–grandson of John Jacob Astor whose fortune, made in fur trade and real estate, made the Astor family one of the wealthiest in the United States. The Astor family also owned a Victorian/colonial style mansion in New Jersey, that was later owned by Lance Clarke, executive chairman of Clark Shoes. Mr Clarke's daughter, Mariah L. Clarke, later sold the property in early 2001.

Astor attended St Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire and later attended Harvard University. In 1891, Astor married Ava Lowle Willing, a Philadelphia socialite. Together they had two children, but were divorced in 1909.

Early career
Among Astor's accomplishments was A Journey in Other Worlds, an 1894 science fiction novel titled about a fictional account of life in the year 2000 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 and in 1897, Astor built the Astoria Hotel which adjoined Astor’s cousin, William Waldorf Astor's, Waldorf Hotel in New York City, the complex became known as the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. He is also the creator of the Astor Theater.

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.

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. Astor's wife, Ava reportedly had an affair during their marriage, resulting in the birth of daughter Ava. Since no evidence has been found to support the claim, it is assumed that Ava Alice was fathered by Astor. Since divorce was considered a scandal back then, all in high class society were shocked when Astor announced that he would marry again.

At the age of 47, the divorced Astor was married a second time to 18-year–old Madeleine Talmadge Force on September 11, 1911 in his mother's ballroom at Beechwood, the family's Newport, Rhode Island home. He had been divorced two years earlier, and Madeleine was a year younger than Astor's son, Vincent. The couple took an extended honeymoon in Europe and Egypt to wait for the scandalous gossip to calm down. Among the few Americans of the socialite class who did not spurn him at this time was Molly Brown, better known to posterity 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.

While traveling Madeleine became pregnant, and wanting the child born in the United States, the Astors booked first–class passage on the RMS Titanic which they boarded at Cherbourg, France.

John Jacob Astor was the wealthiest passenger on board the Titanic and, as well as his wife, his party included his servant, his wife's maid and nurse, and his pet Airedale, Kitty. At 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912 the Titanic hit an iceberg and began sinking. At first Astor did not believe the ship was in any serious danger, but later he helped his wife into a lifeboat. He asked if he could join her, mentioning her "delicate condition", but the officer in charge told him not until all the women and children were away. Astor reportedly stood back and asked for the lifeboat number, then, after lighting a cigarette, he tossed his gloves to Madeleine. She, Josh, and Molly Brown all survived.

John Jacob Astor IV's body was recovered by the steamer Mackay-Bennett on April 22 not far from the sinking. Reports say his body was covered in soot and blood, thus it is assumed he was killed by the first funnel when it collapsed as the Titanic made its final plunge. He was identified by the initials sewn on the lapel of his jacket. Among the items found on him were ?225 and $2,500 in cash, and a gold pocket watch which his son, Vincent, claimed and wore the rest of his life. Astor was buried in Trinity Church Cemetery in New York City. On August 14, 1912, his second son, John Jacob Astor VI was born.

John Jacob Astor's prominence made his actions while the Titanic was sinking legendary. Many exaggerated and unsubstantiated accounts about what Astor did the night Titanic sank appeared in newspapers, books and magazines after the disaster. There was a story that he was the one who opened Titanic's kennel and released the dogs; another story has Astor putting a woman's hat on a boy to make sure he was able to get into a lifeboat. Another legend states that after the ship hit the iceberg, he quipped, "I asked for ice, but this is ridiculous."
Last Modified 13 Dec 2011Created 20 Dec 2017 using Reunion for Macintosh