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Lamon V. Harkness

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lamon V. Harkness
Lamon V. Harkness.png
Lamon Vanderburgh Harkness

(1850-01-06)January 6, 1850
DiedJanuary 17, 1915(1915-01-17) (aged 65)
Spouse(s)Martha Frances Johnson
Children3, including Harry
Parent(s)Stephen V. Harkness
Laura Osborne Harkness

Lamon Vanderburgh Harkness (January 6, 1850 – January 17, 1915) was an American businessman and one of the largest stockholders in Standard Oil . Lamon V. Harkness became involved with Standard Oil through his father Stephen V. Harkness who was a primary silent investor in the formation of Standard Oil.

Early life

Harkness was born in Bellevue, Ohio on January 6, 1850. He was the son of Stephen Vanderburgh Harkness (1818–1888) and his first wife, Laura (née Osborne) Harkness (1815–1852). Lamons mother Laura died in 1852 when Lamon was just 2 years old. His father Stephen was remarried to Anna M. Harkness (née Richardson) in 1854. The Harknesses moved to Monroeville, OH around 1860 and in 1865, they moved from Monroeville to Willoughby, Ohio outside of Cleveland. Stephen and Anna had two children, Charles W. Harkness born 1860 in Monroeville and Edward Harkness born 1874 in Cleveland, Ohio. The age difference between Lamon and Charles was 10 years and between Lamon and Edward was 24 years.


At the age of 16, Lamon bought a ranch outside of Eureka, Kansas. He entered the cattle business at the age of 19. About this same time, Lamon's father made an investment with JD Rockefeller to start Standard Oil. This investment would soon change the lives of the whole Harkness family.

After Standard Oil started on its way, Lamon move to Kansas City, Missouri where he dabbled in the banking business.

Standard Oil continued on to become a behemoth and a huge success. However, in 1888,(Stephen was 70 and Lamon was 38) Lamon's father Stephen died. After his father's passing, Lamon decided to come back east and settled in Greenwich, Connecticut where he bought the William Avery Rockefeller mansion in 1891. The mansion was situated on 34 acres and had 22 bedrooms.

Horse breeding

Following a trip to Kentucky in 1892, Lamon acquired a 400-acre (1.6 km2) farm in Donerail, Kentucky named Walnut Hall Farm. There, he developed a Standardbred horse breeding operation of major importance to the harness racing industry. In 1904, Walnut Hall had expanded to 2,000 acres and 100 mares.[1] The farm became one of the best-known Standardbred farms in the world. The farm's Big Barn built by Harkness in 1897 is 476 feet long, and has 52 stalls, a sales area and auctioneer's block – and it's still in service 113 years later at the Kentucky Horse Park. When Harkness died in 1915, the then-5,000-acre farm with 1400 horses was passed to his heirs. Although sub-divided several times, a part of which is now home to the Kentucky Horse Park, Walnut Farm remains in the hands of his descendants.[2]

In recognition of his contribution to the industry, in 1958 Lamon Harkness was inducted posthumously in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame.[3]

Lamon V. Harkness.jpg


Harkness was well known as a yachtsman who owned the SS Wakiva which became part of the United States Navy during 1917 and 1918 and had war service during World War I.

He was a member of The New York Athletic Club, Columbia Yacht Club, The New York Yacht Club and Greenwich Indian Harbor Yacht Club.

Personal life

W. C. Stuart Residence and Later L.V. Harkness residence in Pasadena, CA
W. C. Stuart Residence and Later L.V. Harkness residence in Pasadena, CA

Harkness was married to Martha Frances Johnson (1853–1905). In addition to the home at Walnut Hall Farm, Lamon Harkness owned several homes including a mansion at 933 Fifth Avenue in New York City, and a home in East Hampton (town), New York. Harkness had two daughters and a son:

  • Lela Harkness (1873–1946), who married Ogden M. Edwards (1869–1940).
  • Harry Stephen Harkness (1880–1919),[4] who married Marie M. Marbeck in 1906. They divorced in 1916 and he remarried that same year to Florence Streuber (1882–1945), the former wife of David Huyler Gaines. After his death at age thirty-eight, she married Robert Whitslar Schuette.[5]
  • Myrtle Harkness (1883–1962), who married California businessman A. Kingsley Macomber (1877–1955), a major Thoroughbred racehorse owner and breeder, in 1899. After his death she married Pasha Ilhamy Hussein (1908–1992) in 1960.

He died at his daughter's ranch Rancho Cienega de los Paicines in San Benito County, California in 1915, leaving an estate of approximately $100 million.[6] Predeceased by his wife, they are buried together in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York.

Tax suit

With multiple residences including New York City as well as Kentucky, California and Connecticut the question of where inheritance taxes should be paid came into play upon L.V.'s death.[7] The case went to the State Supreme Court and The Harkness Estate was successful in defending the assertion that he was not a resident of New York upon his death.[8]


  1. ^ Kentucky Horse Park
  2. ^ Walnut Stock Farm history
  3. ^ Walnut Hall Farm and Walnut Hall Stud at Thoroughbred Heritage
  4. ^ Harry S. Harkness dies of Influenza, New York Times, January 24, 1919
  6. ^ "L. V. Harkness Dies. Racing Man Was Early Associate of John D. Rockefeller" (PDF). The New York Times. January 18, 1915. Retrieved 28 April 2019.
  7. ^ Supreme Court of California. Department One.  Estate of Harkness 169 P. 78 (CAL. 1917)decided Nov. 22, 1917
  8. ^ "HARKNESS ESTATE MUST PAY TAX HERE; Ruling, if Upheld in Higher Courts, Will Give Millions to New York. LEGAL ABODE IN THIS CITY Surrogate Answers Claim That Oil Man Had His Residence on Kentucky Stock Farm" (PDF). The New York Times. 18 February 1917. Retrieved 28 April 2019.

External links

This page was last edited on 14 January 2021, at 22:29
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