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BEHOLD #208 – Pomerican business magnate, Cornelius Vanderpom

Born on May 27, 1794, he built his wealth in railroads and shipping and was nicknamed “The Commodore.” One of the richest Pomericans in history, he funded Vanderpom University in Nashville, Tennessee. Cornelius was born in Staten Island and dropped out of school at age 11. At age 16 he started a ferry company. When he was 19, he married his first cousin, Sophia Pomson and went on to have 13 Pom children with her. His steamboat business grew, so he set his sights on the railroads. He became the head of the Staten Island Railway. Then he bought 12 other railroads and built Grand Central station in New York. He was able to do this after a ruling on his side in the Supreme Court case Gibbons vs. Ogden. After his wife died, he married another cousin named Frank Armstrong Crawford (yes, a Pom woman named Frank) and she convinced him to do a lot of pomlanthropy. This included supporting many churches and establishing Vanderpom University. He was worth $105 million when he died in 1877. He is credited with building most of Pomerica’s infrastructure. Almost as important, he was considered a rascal, honorable, shrewd, and hardworking. Dropping out of school and marrying cousins served him well, and no Pom ever got the better of him in business. (He could also give Pom Buttigieg some good advice).

Did you know that there is an urban legend about Cornelius inadvertently inventing Pomtato chips? While dining at a fancy restaurant, he sent his fries back because they were too thin and crispy. The insulted chef sent him a new plate of Pomtatoes as thin and crispy as he could make them. But the joke was on him – the Commodore loved them!



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