Greene County, Arkansas

Jay Gould



Born in 1836.


IN most of the countries of Europe, and especially in England, great wealth when uninherited is generally realized through the slow and patient channels of some trade or calling. But here a newly created world, so to speak, possessed of wealth far exceeding that of "Ormus, and of Ind," and teeming with all the resources necessary to our greatness and happiness, lies spread out before us in boundless expanses, presenting to every species of enterprise fields for operation so filled with promise, and of such gigantic magnitude, that those of the old world are dwarfed into insignificance before them.

Jay Gould was born at Stratton's Falls, Delaware county, in the state of New York. His father was a well to do farmer and small storekeeper. Young Gould early betrayed symptoms of genius and self-reliance, for he had scarcely got well into his school-days till he regarded himself already a man and invented a mouse trap. When sixteen years of age, he made his first move in life and became a clerk in a small country store.

The genius of Jay must have been of no ordinary character,

for before he was twenty years of age he appeared suddenly a full blown engineer, and made a survey of Delaware county, a map of which was published in 1856. When Mr. Gould bid farewell to the home of his youth, he went to Pennsylvania with Col. Zadock Pratt, and started a tannery in conjunction with that gentleman, at a place named Gouldsboro. Evidently from this name, young Jay was the leading spirit of the enterprise.

In 1859, Gould began to speculate in Wall street, in railroad stocks, and long before the end of the war he was said to be a millionaire.

All through 1876, and up to the close of 1878, he purchased large lines of low price stocks which, as if by magic, began to rise in value the moment he touched them; so that now his wealth must be very great -- some say upward of sixty millions.

Mr. Gould is a married gentleman, and resides at his magnificent residence, Irvington on the Hudson. A story is told at the expense of his veracity. A speculator in a small way of business got points from Mr. Gould which, excepting on one occasion, he invariably reversed, and made money every time by going contrary to his adviser's instructions, on one occasion he took the great financier at his word, however, and was almost ruined by doing so. Mr. Gould is a small man, weighing less than a hundred and twenty pounds. He has a swarthy complexion, well made features and black eyes.

When the brief sketch of the life of Jay Gould was written for our family history we did not for one moment think that this same volume would contain an account of his death. We fondly hoped and anticipated for him many years of usefulness in the world at large, and of happiness in his home with his children, who loved him so devotedly; but our God, "whose ways are not as man's ways, neither are his thoughts as man's thoughts," in His infinite wisdom ordered otherwise. The seeds of that dread disease consumption, which closed his earthly career, had begun to develop before our reunion, but this fact was known only to himself and his faithful physician. In August, 1890, he visited Roxbury and made arrangements to be present at our great family gathering, but before reaching home he contracted a severe cold, which told him only too plainly that the excitement and the chill air of September among the mountains must be avoided. He could not for the pleasure afford to run the risk, and so, though greatly disappointed, remained quietly at his home deeply interested in hearing all that could be related to him. He watched from his grounds the approach of the steamer which was bearing a goodly company of the relatives down the beautiful Hudson, and prepared for them a salute. When opposite Lyndhurst they were attracted by the stars and stripes floating from several prominent positions, which was answered from the deck of the steamer by the waving of handkerchiefs.

For more than two years he fought the enemy so bravely, and withal so patiently, that until within a few days of his death his real physical condition was known to only a few tried and trusted friends.

He spent last winter in the South-West, deprived of the comforts and pleasures of home, hoping that the warm, dry atmosphere would give him a longer lease of life. He spent the summer among the Rocky Mountains, and returned to his home quite invigorated, and arranged his business for another sojourn in El Paso. About two weeks before his intended departure--from overwork and a slight cold, or perhaps from just the natural course of the disease--he was seized with what proved to be a succession of hemorrhages that wasted his vitality very rapidly. His physician thought he might rally again. His children and friends hoped and

earnestly prayed that his life might be spared. He had no hope for himself. He realized that the last effort of his powerful will had been made. He had no fear of death, and only desired to live for the sake of his motherless children, who he felt needed his tender care and loving advice so much while in youth's slippery paths.

As day succeeded unto day, it became very evident that his life was waning, and that the end was near. A few hours before his departure he expressed a desire to see his children. They gathered around his bed with crushed and bleeding hearts. He gave each one his last message of love and parting advice, in words too sweet and tender, too sacred to be repeated even here. This was the last effort of nature. He sank into unconsciousness, and on the morning of December 2nd, 1892, in his own home, surrounded by his children, he passed quietly and peacefully away from all the activities of his busy life. His funeral was simple and unostentatious,--in perfect accord with his life and character. His passionate love of flowers was remembered by his children and friends in the profusion of beauty and fragrance that embowered his remains until they were placed in the mausoleum, with those of the devoted wife of his youth.

His children mourn the loss of a tender father, whom they had learned to trust and love. In his home, the place he most loved, his loss is irreparable. It can never be estimated.

The loss to the business world, and especially to the men with whom he was associated in so many great enterprises, and who had so often depended on his judgment and wisdom in matters of finance, is best expressed in their own words.


The intelligence of the death of Mr. Jay Gould was bulletined here this morning, and there were general expressions of regret from leading merchants and citizens.

There is a warm spot in the hearts of the residents of Memphis for Mr. Gould. They have not forgotten that in 1879, when Memphis, after being scourged with yellow fever in 1878, was again visited by an epidemic of the same dread disease, Mr. Gould, hearing of the exhausted condition of the treasury of the Howard Association of Memphis, sent by telegraph $5,000, and authorized the Association to draw on him for as much more as was needed to aid the Association in its work of nursing the sick and burying the dead.

Mr. Gould came to Memphis on October 21st, seven years after the last epidemic, and a public reception was tendered to him on the floor of the Memphis Merchants' Exchange. On the large blackboard of the Exchange was written in chalk his memorable telegram, and as he entered the room his eyes caught the few brief words his generous nature had prompted him to send, and which have ever since been held in grateful remembrance.

It has been repeatedly declared of Mr. Gould that he was not benevolent. Yet those most intimate with him denounce this as a falsehood. Mr. Gould was exceedingly secretive in all his acts, and fully as much so in his giving as in his getting. Mr. Morosini, so long his private accountant, declares that for years he kept a record of his gifts under a beneficence account, and he remembers that in one year the account amounted to the handsome sum of $165,000.

He says of him:

"Mr. Gould was the most generous of men, and he made a great many other men rich by his own generosity. I could give you hundreds of instances where, in return for some slight service to him, he has started men in the way of making fortunes. There is one which just comes to mind while I am talking, which is a good illustration. Once there was a man out West who did some little work for Mr. Gould in a railroad matter there. The man was of the ordinary type of a westerner on the frontier. Mr. Gould said to me: 'I ought to do something for him; what would you suggest?' I replied, 'buy him a thousand shares of stock for a rise.' He said, 'all right,' and ordered he purchase of 1,000 shares of Denver and Rio Grande. The stock was then about 29. We carried it along until it reached a very high point and looked like going off, and then we sold it. The profit was $65,000, and I paid that money, all of it, sixty-five bills of $1,000 each, to that man myself. Mr. Gould had ordered that transaction for that particular purpose. He took none of the profit himself, but directed that the man should have it all.

'There were many instances,' continued Mr. Morosini, 'of just that sort, and many in which he greatly helped men here in Wall Street from going down--men whom he was under no obligation to help, but he assisted them under an impulse of generosity."

In the winter of 1848 there was an extensive religious awakening throughout the country, whose influence was felt in Roxbury, and the Methodist Church of the village, of which Mr. Gould's sisters were devoted members, held a series of special services. Jay Gould was only twelve years old at the time, but he became deeply impressed and handed in his name for church membership.

Thomas Thacher was born on land in Yarmouthport granted to his ancestors in 1639. This land has been the home of all of his Thacher ancestors in this country. They have all been buried upon it. He went to Boston in 1845 and was there in the wholesale dry goods business. He went to New York City in 1857 and was there a commission merchant, receiving naval stores from North Carolina. During the Civil War he handled large quantities of the staples of the west which formerly had gone down the Mississippi. He foreclosed the Missouri Iowa and Nebraska R. R. Company against Jay Gould and was made its receiver and re-organized it under the name of the Keokuk and Western R. R.



A portrait of Jay Gould, made soon after he became identified with the corporation, looked down from the walls of the directors' room in the Western Union Building when the members of the Executive Committee met there at noon yesterday. On the stroke of twelve, President Norvin Green, General Thomas T. Eckert, the general manager, Russell Sage. John Van Horn, John T. Terry, John G. Moore and Samuel Sloan entered. As if impelled by the same impulse each glanced at the leather-bottomed chair in which the dead financier used to sit and deliberate with them.

President Green formally announced the death of Mr. Gould. He said that in his death Western Union had lost a most powerful and enthusiastic supporter, and all those identified with the corporation a loyal and whole-souled friend. He thought some action should be taken to demonstrate their esteem for Mr. Gould.

Russell Sage wept as he told of his love for Mr. Gould from the moment he met him. He recalled the fact that Mr. Gould's death occurred on the anniversary of the day when Norcross threw the bomb which wrecked the offices at No. 71 Broadway, and brought Mr. Sage so near to death. Happily Mr. Gould, whose office almost adjoined his own, was absent. Mr. Sage expressed his gratitude that Mr. Gould had escaped the tragedy, and had passed away peacefully.

One of the most celebrated legal fights in which Mr. Barlow was involved was that against Jay Gould, for the control of the Erie Railroad. He not only succeeded but forced Mr. Gould to pay over $9,000,000 to secure a settlement. Mr. Barlow was elected one of the directors under the new management, and remained its private counsel, at a salary of $25,000. In 1852 he became a member of the firm of Bowdoin, Larocque & Barlow, which soon acquired an immense office practice. When his two partners died, leaving Mr. Barlow alone, he took in Joseph Larocque,

To me it is a wonder that with his manifold duties as an overworked Judge, and then as a lawyer, with a clientage covering in its course, either as general or advisory counsel, such interests as those of the Union Pacific Railroad Company, the Missouri Pacific, the Texas Pacific, the Manhattan Elevated, the Western Union Telegraph Company, the estate of Jay Gould and of different members of that family, and the various other matters that came before him, he could have possibly found time to give to the world productions of his pen, so numerous and worthy, that they have strewn his entire pathway with a wealth of solid and useful literature.

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