Margaret Hayden Rector papers regarding the Belmont family, 1971 – 1995

Historical Note
August Belmont IV:
August Belmont IV (1909-1995) was the great grandson to August Belmont (1816-1890), the successful banker who entered the profession working for the office of the Rothchilds, in Frankfurt Germany, then established August Belmont & Company on Wall Street. His great grandfather was also an active politician within the Democratic party of the time, developed a great love for horse racing, and served as the president of the American Jockey club for a number of years.
His family is also connected to Newport, Rhode Island, because his great uncle, Oliver H.P. Belmont (1858-1908), married Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, a Newport socialite. Together they lived in Belcourt on Bellevue Avenue, which after Alva’s passing in 1933, was left to August Belmont IV.
August Belmont IV’s grandfather, August Belmont, Jr. (1863-1924) was a pioneer of horse racing. He formed the Westchester Racing Association in 1895 and was the founder of Belmont Park which opened on May 4, 1905. Continuing his family’s philanthropic legacy, August Belmont IV became the public figure for the family after the death of this grandfather in 1924. He became the chairman of the Jockey Club, an honorary trustee of Presbyterian Hospital, a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History and a chairman of the American Kennel Club.
Maintaining family tradition, August Belmont IV entered the world of banking and became a partner in the investment firm of Dillion, Read & Company, serving as the company’s president until his retirement in 1971. He too was a passionate horse racer and his colt, Caveat, achieved great fame under renowned trainer Woody Stephens.
In the final years of his life August Belmont IV suffered from a series of health complications. A broken hip was the beginning of his deterioration. Soon after recovering from this injury Belmont experienced a series of mini strokes resulting in loss of vision in 1995. At age 88, Belmont had a stroke and died in Easton, Maryland.

Margaret Hayden Rector:
Margaret Hayden Rector was an American playwright and author. She was born in Azusa, California, on May 23, 1916. In 1992 her book titled: Alva, That Vanderbilt-Belmont Woman was published by The Dutch Island Press in Maine. Rector died at age 86 on November 9, 2002.

  • Newport Mercury, Dec. 13, 1924, Newport Historical Society Obituary Collection.
  • Newport Historical Society Clipping Files, “Number 2, Perry Belmont Buys Belcourt.”
  • Dictionary of American Biography, Barsotti to Brazer, Vol. II, pages 169-170.
  • The Newport Daily News, Monday, August 31, 1992. 
Scope and Content
This collection consists of author Margaret Hayden Rector's photographs, correspondence, and research pertaining to the history of the Belmont family. In 1992 Rector published the book, Alva, That Vanderbilt-Belmont Woman. The book is a creative biography, written in first person, on the life of Alva Vanderbilt Belmont. Rector believes her book is Alva’s “story as she might have told it.” The publication of this book put Rector in contact with August Belmont IV, a descendant of Alva. The two began corresponding, and wrote to one another from 1992 until August’s death in 1995. The photograph series consists of photographs and slides taken by and of Rector, while traveling in Newport and attending black tie affairs. This series also includes many photos taken circa 1994 during “A Weekend of Coaching,” a Preservation Society of Newport County event. The correspondence series mainly consists of letters, primarily written by August Belmont IV to Rector, between the years of 1992-1995. However, there are a small number of letters written by Mrs. Belmont, Eleanor Robson Belmont, mother to August Belmont IV, which describe the Belmont family’s involvement in the construction of the Cape Cod Canal. The letters cover a wide range of topics including family relationships, the history of the Belmont and Vanderbilt family, health concerns, literature, horse racing, financial burdens, and philanthropy. The research series consists of photo negatives, hand-written notes, and 1993 horse racing magazines. Highlights include a Newport Daily News newspaper clipping that explains how Rector’s interest and passion for researching Alva began.