Believe it or not, no matter how hard top billionaires like Carlos Slim, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates work, and no matter how much money they rake in, they will never be considered as equals by the old rich families that have been wealthy for centuries. These families view themselves as a class of their own, made up of only a few select few, and newcomers to the world of the rich are not allowed to barge in to their stratosphere.
Old rich families are those whose wealth have been merely inherited and passed down from generation to generation. They are not like the nouveau riche, whose wealth came fairly recently as a result of business and investment successes. Old rich families think of themselves as having ranks equivalent to those of European monarchy. They consider themselves as high society and quasi aristocratic, whose names alone are enough to conjure images of prestige and class.
They do not feature that prominently anymore in lists of the richest people on the planet, but nevertheless, they are still considered as the people on top of the world. Here now is a list of the old money families that have been richest the longest.
5 Astor Family: Considered America's First Aristocrats
The Astor family is considered as America’s first aristocrats. The family traces its roots to Germany and England, and is related to other prominent families like the Livingstons, the Roosevelts, the Dudleys, the Winthrops, and the Bayards. Their earliest known ancestors worked as butchers in Germany, before the family moved to England to become flute makers. They then moved to Baltimore where they continued with their flute business, before becoming merchants of furs, pianos and real estate. Eventually, they moved to New York.
The family’s imprints can still be seen everywhere. They were once called the landlords of New York, where some of the places are still named after them, like the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Astor Row, Astor Court, Astor Place, Astor Avenue, and even the Astoria neighborhood in Queens. There are also towns named Astor in Florida, Georgia, Kansas and Iowa, as well as places called Astoria in Oregon, Illinois and Missouri. In Wisconsin, there is also an Astor Park.
The family was especially prominent in Newport, Rhode Island and Mackinac Island in Michigan. They still have a summerhouse called Beechwood in Newport. The Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island still has rooms called the Lord and Lady Astor Suites, while the salon is still called Astor’s.
4 Du Pont Family: Played Important Roles in History
If you are in Delaware, you will still feel the power and presence of this old rich family, as its companies employ up to 10 percent of the entire population. The Du Ponts trace their lineage to France, where the founder of the family that moved to the United States originally lived. He was a watchmaker from Paris and he was a Hugeunot, French Protestants who believed in the teachings of John Calvin. The matriarch had some noble blood in her as she belonged to a minor royal family. They then moved in 1800 to the United States where they established the Eleuthere Irenee, a company that manufactured gunpowder. This was eventually renamed as the E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.
The family amassed massive wealth by selling gunpowder during the Civil War from 1861 to 1865. By World War I, the family had a stronghold of the entire supply of gunpowder used by the United States.
The family is related to the Astor family, the Rockefeller family, the Roosevelt family and the Vanderbilt family. They have played a role in some important events in American history, including the Louisiana Purchase. During the 1800's, the family carefully orchestrated moves in order to keep their wealth by arranging intra family marriages between cousins. This practice was common at the time.
3 Rockefeller Family: Recently Became Considered as Old Money
The Rockefeller family was not actually considered old rich before because they made their fortune quite late when compared to the other families. Eventually, however, they got accepted as part of the old rich.
The family got rich in the latter part of the 1800's to the early part of the 1900's when their oil business boomed mainly through their company called Standard Oil. The company was known for its ruthless practices by practicing both horizontal and vertical integration in order to kill off all competition. Eventually, the courts ruled that the company was an illegal monopoly. So one of the family’s legacies are the anti trust act that was enacted by Congress and the big oil companies that resulted from the breakup of Standard Oil. Among the resulting oil firms were Exxon, Mobil and Chevron, all of which trace its roots to Rockefeller.
The family was also known for the Chase Manhattan Bank, which is now part of JP Morgan Chase. They were also heavily involved with landmarks such as the Rockefeller Center, the old World Trade Center, the Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center, Empire State Plaza, and The Embarcadero Complex in San Francisco.
2 Rothschild Family: Was the Richest Family in the World in the 1800's
The Rothschild family is credited for establishing finance houses throughout Europe. It was considered the richest family in the world for much of 1800's. It originated from Frankfurt in the old Holy Roman Empire and the family members have Ashkenazi Jewish ethnicity.
The family became so powerful that five lines of its Austrian branch were given heredity titles by Emperor Francis II of the Habsburg Empire in 1816. The Rotshchilds also had a British branch that was bequeathed with the titles of Baron and Baronet by Queen Victoria.
Today, the Rothschilds may not be as prominent as they were before, though they do still have interests in a variety of industries, including finance, mining, wine, energy, and farming. The family is also heavily involved with charity work.
Family descendants could still be found in countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, the Cayman Islands, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, France, Monaco, and Luxembourg.
1 Vanderbilt Family: Built Grand Central Terminal in New York
The Vanderbilt family traces its roots to the van Salees, one of the first to inhabit New Amsterdam back in the 17th century. The van Salees are also the ancestors of the Whitneys, and of prominent personalities like Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and Humphrey Bogart.
The family started amassing wealth when Cornelius Vanderbilt established his shipping and railroad businesses that soon became an empire. They owned the Michigan Central Railroad, which led to the establishment of the town of Vanderbilt in the state. The family also built the Grand Central Terminal in New York, which is why there is a Vanderbilt Avenue right in midtown Manhattan.
Vanderbilt also donated a million dollars that became the foundation money of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He also donated a steamer boat named after him to the Union during the Civil War. As a result, the government awarded him a gold medal that soon became the symbol of the family’s titular head.
The family was also known for its 10 magnificent mansions along Fifth Avenue. Unfortunately, by the middle of the 20th century, the family experienced a major downfall that led to the collapse of their business empire. Around this time, the last of those great mansions were demolished.
The Vanderbilts can still be found in New York. They are related to the Goldberg and Windmiller families, both of which are considered as two of the richest clans in Long Island.