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William L. Harkness

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

William L. Harkness
WIlliam L. Harkness.png
Born(1858-08-08)August 8, 1858
DiedMay 10, 1919(1919-05-10) (aged 60)
Resting placeWoodlawn Cemetery
EducationYale University (Class of 1881)
OccupationBusiness investor, heir
Spouse(s)Edith Hale
ChildrenLouise Hale Harkness (1898-1978), William Hale Harkness (1900–1954)
Parent(s)Daniel M. Harkness and Isabella Harkness

William Lamon Harkness (August 8, 1858 – May 10, 1919) was an American businessman and inheritor of a large share of Standard Oil.

Early life

William Lamon Harkness was born in Bellevue, Ohio, the son of Daniel M. Harkness, who was the half-brother of both Henry Flagler and Stephen V. Harkness, both founders of Standard Oil, and his wife Isabella Harkness. Upon his father Daniel's death in 1896, he inherited a large share in Standard Oil, a company in which his father had been an early shareholder. He is also a cousin of noted philanthropist Edward Harkness who also benefitted from his father's involvement with Standard Oil.[1]

He attended Bellevue Public Schools in Bellevue, Ohio and The Brooks Military School in Cleveland. In 1881, Harkness graduated from Yale University.


In 1896, he moved from Cleveland, Ohio to a home at 12 East 53rd Street in New York City. He also owned a country home, Dosoris, at Glen Cove on Long Island. A yachtsman and sportsman, he was a member of The Union Club of Cleveland, the New York Yacht Club, the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club and Piping Rock Club.[1]

Steam yacht Gunilda
Steam yacht Gunilda

In August 1911, while in command of his steam yacht Gunilda on Lake Superior, he ran her aground, due to his failure in recognising a requirement for a pilot and then compounding the matter by not hiring tugs at the appropriate time. She would sink in days. He put in a claim against the ship's insurer, Lloyd's of London for about $132,000 dollars, and received $100,000 compensation.[2]


Harkness Hall at Yale University
Harkness Hall at Yale University

Shortly before his death, Harkness donated $400,000 to Yale University.[3] The William L. Harkness Hall at Yale University was completed in 1927 as the gift of Mr. W.L. Harkness, B.A. 1881, and his family. It is a Collegiate Gothic building of Aquia sandstone with Ohio sandstone trim and contains offices and lecture & recitation rooms for the French, German, and Music departments. William Adams Delano was the architect.[4]

Personal life

William L Harkness house 12 East 53rd Street, New York, NY
William L Harkness house 12 East 53rd Street, New York, NY
William L. Harkness Estate in Glen Cove, NY known as The Wings and then Dosoris
William L. Harkness Estate in Glen Cove, NY known as The Wings and then Dosoris

Harkness was married to Edith Hale (1863–1947), daughter of Edwin B. Hale, a prominent banker from Cleveland.[5] Together, they were the parents of:[6]

Harkness died in New York City in 1919 and was buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York.[10] He left an estate of $53,439,437,[11] which would be approximately $740 million in today's dollars, of which $37,272,254 was stock in Standard Oil. He left half of his estate including his houses at 12 West 53rd in New York and Dosoris at Glen Cove, NY to his wife Edith Hale Harkness.[11] The remaining half was divided between his daughter Louise Hale Harkness and his son William Hale Harkness.[5]


  1. ^ a b Western Reserve Historical Society Publication, Issue 102, pg 26
  2. ^ "Gunilda, Great Lakes Deep Diving Pinnacle". Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  3. ^ "Yale Alumni Gave $640,000 Last Year; University Devoted $100,000 to War Expenses as a Free-Will Contribution". The New York Times. November 16, 1919. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  4. ^ "Yale to Build Hall to Honor Harkness; Family Increases His $400,000 Gift to the University to $900,000". The New York Times. January 31, 1926. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c "$12,000,000 Heiress, Miss Harkness, Wed; Daughter of Mrs. William L. Harkness Marries David S. Ingalls of Cleveland Locust Valley Church Bridegroom, Kin of Chief Justice Taft, Won Distinction as Naval Ace During War". The New York Times. June 28, 1922. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  6. ^ "Harkness Estate Cut By $25,272,154 Taxes". The New York Times. August 27, 1948. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  7. ^ "Melvillee. Ingalls, Financier, Is Dead". The New York Times. July 12, 1914. p. C5.
  8. ^ Times, Special To The New York (June 14, 1932). "Miss Grant is Bride of W. H. Harkness; Christ Church at Rye, N. Y., Is Decorated With Lilies and Daisies for Ceremony. The Bridal Party Large Fergus Reid Jr. Is Best Man for Mr. HarknessuReception at Home of the J. P. Grants". The New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  9. ^ Harrison, Barbara Grizzuti (May 22, 1988). "'Is There a Chic Way to Go?'". The New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  10. ^ "William L. Harkness Dies | Capitalist and Yachtsman a Victim of Heart Disease at Home". The New York Times. May 11, 1919. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  11. ^ a b Times, Special To The New York (April 10, 1921). "$53,439,000 Estate Of WM.L. Harkness to Pay Tax Here; Large Owner in Standard Oil Company Declared Himself Resident of New York. Wealth Exceeds Estimate: His Standard Oil Holdings Alone Valued at $37,272,254 and All Securities at $53,272,254. State Goes to Family Widow, Son and Daughter the Heirs --$400,000 Gift Made to Yale Before His Death". The New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2017.


This page was last edited on 30 October 2021, at 21:47
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