For the most part, old money marries old money. F. Scott Fitzgerald learned that the hard way when he fell hard for Ginevra King, the beautiful Chicago debutante. They exchanged breathless letters for a year and a half, but she ended up marrying investment banker William Hamilton Mitchell. According to lore, her father, wealthy stockbroker Charles Garfield King, told Fitzgerald, “Poor boys shouldn’t think of marrying rich girls.”
The well-born live in a world apart, yet they never fail to fascinate. Partly that’s because they are as rare as red diamonds. The vast majority of millionaires have had their riches for less than a generation. To prove this point (with a Minnesota twist), we spent three months compiling a family tree. The finished product includes 50 old-money families, including the Heffelfingers, the Jaffrays, the Daytons, the Weyerhaeusers, the Hills, the McKnights, the Ordways, the MacMillans and the Velies. Even flirty Ginevra King made it in there: Her husband was the nephew of Maggie Weyerhaeuser.
But for all that breadth — 50 families connected across 150 years — the tree is remarkably compact, just shy of 4,000 individuals. To put it another way, all the generational wealth in Minnesota could gather at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, with plenty of room to spare.
What we discovered is that old-money Minnesotans tend to marry within the bounds of the state. There are exceptions, of course. Like when Alma Walker married (and then promptly divorced) William Randolph Hearst Jr., or when Gov. Mark Dayton married (and later divorced) Alida Rockefeller. But for the most part — even though they are not geographically constrained and most go away to private schools on the East Coast — the Ordways marry the Jaffrays who marry the Ames who marry the Wintons. It’s not 50 old-money families but, really, one very powerful, very influential family. Don’t believe us? Turn the page.
For Richer, For Poorer
A visual guide to the wedding ties binding Minnesota’s upper-crust families.
A who’s who among moneyed Minnesotans.
President of the American Alliance of Museums, former candidate for U.S. Senate
Cofounder of Birkeland & Burnet, co-investor, with Isaac Becker, in Burch Steakhouse and Pizza Bar, and Bar La Grassa
Coldwell Banker Burnet founder, owner of Le Méridien Chambers hotel, important modern-art collector
Austen Cargill II
One of six Cargill family members in control the $137-billion agribusiness company
Rick Hartfiel III
Director of investment banking at Craig-Hallum Capital Group
Executive producer at Grizzly Creek Films in Bozeman, Montana, mostly producing wildlife shows for National Geographic (Also member of Pillsbury clan)
Influential angel investor (Also member of Pillsbury clan)
Managing director at Piper Jaffray (Also member of Pillsbury clan)
CEO at JobDig and LinkUp
Owner of Twill at the Galleria in Edina
Prominent interior designer
Current governor of Minnesota, former U.S. senator
Portland, Oregon, baker and restaurateur
Vintage sports-car restorer and racer
Prominent interior designer
Commercial real-estate developer in Tacoma, Washington, candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 (lost to Democrat Derek Kilmer)
Alexia Hamm Ryan
Prominent New York City socialite
Med-tech executive, currently CFO at Minnetronix
Geophysicist at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (Also member of McDonald clan)
Important collector of central-Asian weavings (Also member of Ames clan)
Freelance journalist whose work regularly appears in The New York Times, Architectural Digest and the Wall Street Journal (Also member of Winton clan)
Green Party activist in Connecticut (Also member of Whitney clan)
U.S. senator from Rhode Island
Brooks Walker III
Founding partner of Walker/Warner Architects in San Francisco
Founding partner of Walker & Moody Architects in San Francisco
Former U.S. ambassador to Norway
Principal at Anmahian Winton Architects in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Improv and sketch-comedy instructor at the Groundlings School in Los Angeles
David Winton II
Documentarian and short-form filmmaker
How To Marry Into Old Money
It’s simple: Be irrepressibly interesting.
The Marry-in: Paul “Jerry” Bremer III
Claim to Fame: American diplomat who essentially served as the head of state for Iraq following the U.S. invasion in 2003
Married To: Francie Winfield Bremer, great-granddaughter of Charles Wilberforce Ames, former head of West Publishing (now part of Thomson Reuters)
The Marry-in: John Christakos
Claim to Fame: CEO and founder of modern-furniture company Blu Dot
Married To: Deborah Delaney Christakos, great-granddaughter of Frank Totten Heffelfinger, president of grain business F.H. Peavey & Company, now part of ConAgra
The Marry-in: Jonas Dovydenas
Claim to Fame: Photographer who works in dangerous locales, such as Afghanistan
Married To: Betsy Dayton Dovydenas, great-granddaughter of George Draper Dayton, founder of Dayton’s
The Marry-in: Jessica Grose
Claim to Fame: Frequent Slate contributor and author of the novel Sad Desk Salad
Married To: Michael Winton, direct descendant of four old-money Minnesota families: Decker, Gillette, Rand and Winton
The Marry-in: Jeff Heegaard
Claim to Fame: Cofounder of CoCo, the inventive Minnesota company that offers “coworking and collaborative” spaces
Married To: Lucy Hartwell Heegaard, great-granddaughter of James Ford Bell, the first president of General Mills
The Marry-in: Joyce Melander-Dayton
Claim to Fame: Acclaimed fiber artist
Married To: Steve Dayton, great-grandson of George Draper Dayton, founder of Dayton’s
The Marry-in: Stuart Nielsen
Claim to Fame: Abstract painter and sculptor
Married To: Katherine (Dayton) Nielsen, great-granddaughter of George Draper Dayton, founder of Dayton’s
The Marry-in: Baird Ryan
Claim to Fame: Founder of Art Capital Group, the pawnshop for New York City millionaires
Married To: Alexia Hamm Ryan, great-great-granddaughter of Theodore Hamm, founder of Theo. Hamm Brewing Company
The Marry-in: Detlev von Wangenheim
Claim to Fame: Real-estate agent to Germany’s rich and famous
Married To: Leslie (Anson) von Wangenheim, great-great-granddaughter of Theodore Hamm, founder of Theo. Hamm Brewing Company
Well-Bred Black Sheep
Even rich, distinguished families have their outcasts.
(former) Black Sheep: Betsy Dayton Dovydenas
Family Ties: Daughter of Wallace Dayton, heir to the Target fortune
Notable Disgrace: In 1984 and ’85, Dovydenas was brainwashed into giving more than $6 million to a fundamentalist church called The Bible Speaks. She also completely disinherited her husband and kids. Then, after intervention from family and cult de-programmers, Dovydenas sued the church to get her money back. She won and sat for an emotional interview with Diane Sawyer on 60 Minutes. Her case established the legal concept of “undue influence” between pastors and parishioners. Dovydenas and her husband are still married and live in Massachusetts.
Black Sheep: Winifred Rockefeller Emeny
Family Ties: Aunt of Avery Rockefeller, who married Lucia Peavey Ewing, heir to the F.H. Peavey & Company fortune (now part of ConAgra)
Notable Disgrace: Emeny committed suicide in 1951 by asphyxiating herself in the garage, with two cars running. She also asphyxiated two of her daughters, Winifred, age 12, and Josephine, age 6. Emeny recently had been treated for mental illness at a sanitarium.
Black Sheep: Kevin Watson Hoidale
Family Ties: Stepson of James Ford Bell Jr., son of James Ford Bell, founder of General Mills
Notable Disgrace: Hoidale was charged with three counts of possession of child pornography in 2003 then had his real-estate license revoked in 2005, when Coldwell Banker Burnet found out. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Sarasota, Florida, where he lived as a registered sex offender until his death in 2012.
Black Sheep: Andrew Cargill MacMillan (along with mother Patricia MacMillan and wife Christina MacMillan)
Family Ties: Son of John Hugh MacMillan III and an heir to the multibillion-dollar Cargill fortune
Notable Disgrace: He was charged with domestic violence, resisting arrest and trafficking oxycodone in 2011. Then, a few months later, Andrew sued his mother, claiming serial abuse and manipulation. He also claimed that his wife, in cahoots with his mother, set up a nearly identical email address as his attorney in an attempt to siphon $3 million from his trust fund. Patricia filed a petition seeking an emergency guardian for her son, who was then treated at a mental-health facility in Florida. Then his ex-lawyer sued everyone: Andrew, the mother, the wife and UBS Financial. The legal mess continues into 2014.