Henry Phipps Jr. entered the world of 19th-century industry and set out on a career that epitomized the American dream.
The son of a cobbler, he became a wealthy businessman, a friend and colleague of Andrew Carnegie’s and a driving force in the Carnegie Steel empire. He also became a philanthropist — Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh; Phipps Ocean Park in Palm Beach, Fla.; and the Phipps Houses in New York City still carry the family name.
His conservative values have guided generations of the Phipps family and have assisted in building a horse racing empire as well.
Henry Phipps grew up in poverty, and was a boyhood friend and neighbor of Andrew Carnegie. Phipps was a capable financier and served as Carnegie's business partner in the Carnegie Steel Company, which would make him him the company's second largest shareholder. At the time that Carnegie sold his steel business to the J. P. Morgan interests in 1901, Phipps was said to have made about $50 million. Phipps was also a successful real estate investor and developer.
After the sale of his Carnegie Steel stock, Phipps set up the Bessemer Trust, named for the steelmaking process, in order to protect the inheritance of his five children. The Bessemer Trust is now one of three banks overseen by the Bessemer Group, whose clients include Phipps family descendents and other high worth investors. About $19 billion of assets are under their management.
Grandchildern Howard Jr. (vice chairman of the Bessemer Board) and Anne Phipps Sidamon-Eristoff are among the trust's major beneficiaries. Mrs. Sidamon-Eristoff is one of the three copyright holders of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America." More than 100 fifth generation Phippses, including Guests, Mannings and Martins, share the rest of the fortune.
On 6 Feb 1872, Henry Phipps married Anne Childs Shaffer, the daughter of a Pittsburgh manufacturer, by whom he had three sons and two daughters. Through the Childs family they are related to S F F & H C member H C Frick, whose wife was before her marriage Adelaide Childs. The Phippses had two daughters, Amy (Mrs. Frederick Guest) and Helen (Mrs. Bradley Martin), plus three sons, John Shaffer Phipps, Henry Carnegie Phipps, and Howard Phipps.