Jay Gould

Nation: United States

Businessman

Birth Date: May 27, 1836
United States Jay Gould Businessman Cover
I. Ancestry and Birth
II. Early Education and Career
III. Railroad Development
IV. Death and Posterity
I. Ancestry and Birth
Jay Gould was born at Stratton's Falls, near Roxbury, Delaware county, New York, on May 27, 1836. He was the son of John Burr and Mary (More) Gould. He was a descendant of Abraham Gould, a lieutenant-colonel in the Continental army, Fourth Connecticut Regiment, who was killed when Tryon made his raid on Danbury. He was also a descendant of Major Nathan Gould, who emigrated from England to Connecticut in 1646 and was one of the nineteen signers of the petition for the Connecticut charter. John Burr Gould was the first white male child born in Delaware County, New York.

Fitch, C. E. (1916). Gould, Jay. In Memorial encyclopedia of the state of New York (Vol. 2, p. 61). Boston: The American Historical Society, Inc.
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II. Early Education and Career
Jason, afterward Jay Gould, was educated at the district school and at Hobart Academy. When fifteen years old, he was a clerk in a tinshop in Roxbury, and when sixteen a partner and manager of the business. Meanwhile he studied surveying and civil engineering, deriving his instruction from books without the aid of a master.

Jay Gould's father sold his farm and became a clerk for the son, who engaged to survey Ulster county, and who was promised twenty dollars per month for his services, but his employer failed to pay him, and he completed the work and sold it for $500. He then sold his tinshop and moved to Albany, where he canvassed the legislature for the contract of surveying the State, but was unsuccessful. Gould consequently undertook the work himself, employing men to survey the various counties. He wrote histories of Ulster, Sullivan, and Greene counties and from the sale of his books and maps accumulated $5,000. With this money, he joined Zadock Pratt in establishing a tannery in Pennsylvania, the place becoming known as Gouldsboro, where a post office was established, and Mr. Gould, then twenty years old, was made postmaster.

Additionally, Gould became the largest stockholder and a director in the bank at Stroudsburg. In 1859, he bought out Pratt's interest and sold it to Charles L. Leupp & Company for $80,000. This led to a lawsuit and dispossession proceedings accomplished by force, and Mr. Gould became sole owner. He then sold the tannery and moved to New York City.

Fitch, C. E. (1916). Gould, Jay. In Memorial encyclopedia of the state of New York (Vol. 2, p. 61). Boston: The American Historical Society, Inc.
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III. Railroad Development
In 1862, Gould was married to Helen Day, daughter of Daniel G. Miller, of the grocery firm of Philip Dater & Company, and through his father-in-law he engaged in speculation in railroad stock. He bought the entire issue of the first mortgage bonds of the Rutland & Washington railroad at ten cents on the dollar, and soon afterward, with Russell Sage of Troy, took up the Rensselaer & Saratoga railroad. Making considerable money, he bought the stock of the Cleveland & Pittsburgh railroad at sixty-five and sold it at one hundred and twenty. He lost some money in Union Pacific, but made millions in Missouri Pacific.

Soon after Gould obtained control of the Erie railway, becoming its president and a partner in a series of questionable transactions with James Fisk, Jr. This introduced him to the legislature of New York, to Supreme Court judges, and to association with William M. Tweed, the financial and railroad magnate of the time, and Mr. Gould retired from the presidency of the railroad with a colossal fortune. This was largely augmented by the transaction in gold in which President Grant's brother-in-law, Corbin, was a prominent factor. This incident was the inauguration of private and public dinners given to executive officials by the holders of large interests subject to official action, and resulted in the great panic in Wall Street known in the history of finance as "Black Friday," September 24, 1869.

Gould then became interested in the American Telegraph Company. With this organization he laid an Atlantic cable, broke down the rates of the monopoly, the Western Union Telegraph Company, and thus forced an amalgamation of the two, with Mr. Gould as a chief stockholder. He afterward became largely interested in the Wabash, the Kansas Pacific, the Union Pacific, the International & Great Northern, the Manhattan Elevated, the St. Louis, the Iron Mountain & Southern, the St. Louis & Southwestern, and the Texas Pacific railroads. At the time of his death his railroad holdings were estimated at $75,000,000.

Fitch, C. E. (1916). Gould, Jay. In Memorial encyclopedia of the state of New York (Vol. 2, pp. 61-62). Boston: The American Historical Society, Inc.
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IV. Death and Posterity
His wife Helen Day died on January 13, 1889, and left six children, four boys and two girls. George J., Edwin, Howard, and Frank became the owners of the railroad properties of their father, held positions as directors and officers in many of them, and proved themselves able business managers. Helen Miller retained possession of the city and country homes of her parents, and devoted her life to charity, which she personally dispensed. She married Finley J. Shepard on January 22, 1913 at Tarrytown, New York. Her sister Anna was married to Count de Castellane of France. The children of Jay Gould gave to the village of Roxbury, New York, as a memorial to their father, a church edifice costing about $150,000, and which was dedicated October 13, 1894.

Jay Gould died in New York City on December 2, 1892.

Fitch, C. E. (1916). Gould, Jay. In Memorial encyclopedia of the state of New York (Vol. 2, p. 62). Boston: The American Historical Society, Inc.
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