Born: c. 1849
Died: January 11, 1910
Married: Florence Adele Vanderbilt
Children: Alice Twombly, Florence Adele Twombly, Ruth Twombly, Hamilton M. Twombly, Jr.
Twombly's name sometimes appears as "McKay," probably a misunderstanding of "McK." for McKown. The last name sometimes appears as Twombley.
Malone Farmer, June 17, 1903
In the H. McK. Twombly camp on the Upper St. Regis Lake, purchased by F. W. Vanderbilt a year ago, have been erected three Japanese buildings for sleeping apartments. The work is being done by Japanese carpenters, and will be finished for the coming of the Vanderbilts in July...
New York Times, January 12, 1910
H. M'K. TWOMBLY, CAPITALIST, DEAD
Brother-in-Law of W. K. Vanderbilt Never Recovered from Shock of His Son's Death.
DIRECTOR OF MANY ROADS
His Death Occurred at Florham Park, His Beautiful Estate and Model Farm, Near Morristown, N. J. .
Special to The New York Times.
MORRISTOWN, N. J., Jan. 11.—Surrounded by members of his family. Hamilton McKown Twombly, millionaire banker and brother-in-law of William K. Vanderbilt, died at his country home in Florham Park at 10:15 o'clock this morning. He had been seriously ill for a month, and was not expected to live from day to day. Several times during the last few days he had suffered from sinking spells due to heart weakness, and had been kept alive by the use of oxygen. Last night he had a relapse, and his local physician, Dr. Stephen Pierson of this city, hurried to Florham Park in an automobile, and Dr. Delafield of New York was summoned.
Mr. Twombly was then thought to be dying, and no hopes were held out for him during the night. Mr. Twombly is said to have had tuberculosis of the larynx, together with a complication of diseases, he was 61 years old and is survived by a widow and two daughters.
Hamilton McKown Twombly, the husband of Florence Adele Twombly, whose father was William Henry Vanderbilt, came from an old Boston family, yet the greater part of his life has centred in and about New York in managing his wide investments and his estate, Florham Farms, in Madison, N. J.
Mr. Twombly was born in Boston and received his schooling there. He went to Harvard, belonged to the best-known clubs there, stood well in his classes, and was graduated with the class of 1871. In those days Newport was even more a Summer residence for Bostonians, and Mr. Twombly, going there frequently in the Summer, and also taking up business in New York, came to know Miss Vanderbilt well. They were married in 1877.
Their residence in New York was 684 Fifth Avenue, and Mr. Twombly's office was at 15 Broad Street. For a great many years he took a lively part in the affairs of both business and society. Some of the companies of which he was a Director were the Chicago & Northwestern, the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis, the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, the New Jersey Shore Line, the Chesapeake & Ohio, and the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railroads, the Clearfield Bituminous Coal Corporation, the National Union Bank, and the New York Mutual Gas Light Company. He was a Trustee of the Guarantee Trust Company and the Mutual Life Insurance Company.
Member of Many Clubs.
Among the clubs to which he belonged were the Metropolitan, Tuxedo, Union, City, Racquet, Players, University, Harvard, New York, Yacht, Transportation, and the Turf and Field, the Somerset Club of Boston, the Museum of Natural History, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Mr. Twombly put a great deal of his energy and his love of the beautiful into his estate at Madison, N. J., with its model farm. He had several children, the oldest of whom, a girl, died at the age of 10, fourteen years ago; Florence, who married William A. M. Burden in 1904; Ruth, who made her debut three years ago, and a son who is named for himself. It was largely to give these children an outdoor life that he designed the place; but the farm he planned chiefly for the interest of his boy.
Florham covers almost four hundred acres. It is a great park, laid out in gardens, dotted with hundreds of specially transplanted trees, and crossed in all directions by stone-ballasted avenues. The house, standing at the head of a gracefully terraced lawn, resembles closely Hatfield House in England, the home of Lord Salisbury. The farm, its stables, and spotless dairy, designed by McKim, Mead & White, brought in at one time, from the sale of its milk alone, an average of $2,000 a year. The milk came from a herd of Guernseys, the first of them imported, among which are many blue ribbon winners. The milk, it is said, was peddled from a twelve-hundred-dollar wagon, drawn by a pair of thoroughbreds worth $1,500 in gold-mounted harness; the farm wagons, too, were drawn by thoroughbreds.
But even more famous than cattle or milk or horses were the products of the gardens of flowers and vegetables. From the flowers—he specialized in orchids and chrysanthemums — there came yearly some $23,000. All of them were raised in the most scientific way in elaborate greenhouses of which the most notable was the palm house, standing as it did sixty-four feet above the ground and topped by a mammoth dome.
His Only Son Drowned.
But Mr. Twombly lost interest in these things, and in his business, too, in the Summer of 1906, when the thing happened which is largely accountable for his death. His only son was spending a few months at Big Squam Lake, near Ashland, N. H. He was 18 years old, had just been graduated from Groton School, and had elected to spend his last vacation before entering Harvard in helping to run the camp managed there by Groton boys. On July 5 the boys started to swim to Cam's Grove, a mile distant from camp. He had gone but a few hundred yards when he sank. No one could reach him in time to help.
The Twomblys were at that time at their Summer home, Vinland, at Newport, L. I. The news of the boy's death was a great shock. The father's friends say he never recovered from it at all. At all events, it was not for a year or two that he returned to Madison, the place so closely associated with his children, and when he did it was not with the old interest. About that time, too, he began gradually to withdraw from the active business enterprises in which his great fortune had interested him. Early in August, 1906—that was the time when insurance matters were in a perturbed state —he refused to stand for re-election to the Trusteeship of the Mutual Life. " I will consent no longer to be a dummy Trustee," he said, when questioned about his act.
Resignation from the Directorates of various railroad and other companies followed, and in October, 1908, he resigned also from the Board of Directors of the Chesapeake & Ohio, where he was regarded as representing the New York Central and Morgan interests.
Mr. Twombly was a stickler for details. For one thing, he could bear to be late to no engagement. It is related of him that once in the Summer of 1905, to keep a dinner engagement at Newport, he chartered a special train in Springfield, made the 100 miles intervening between there and Boston in 103 minutes, and easily caught the train he had to take from there to Newport.