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Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Gould, Jay

GOULD, Jay, financier, b. in Roxbury, Delaware co., N. Y., 27 May, 1836; d. in New York city, 2 Dec., 1892. His early years were spent on his father's farm, and at the age of fourteen he entered Hobart academy, New York, and kept the books of the village blacksmith. He acquired a taste for mathematics and surveying, and on leaving school found employment in making the surveys for a map of Ulster county. The accuracy of this work attracted the attention of the late John Delafield, who applied to the legislature for aid in the completion of a topographical survey of the entire state by Mr. Gould. Mr. Delafield died before any material progress was made, and Mr. Gould undertook to make the surveys unaided. During the summer of 1853 he completed a survey of Albany county, and surveyed and mapped the village of Cohoes, and in the following year made the survey and map of Delaware county, and organized and despatched parties to survey Lake and Geauga counties, Ohio, and Oakland county, Mich. From these surveys he accumulated $5,000. He published a “History of Delaware County” (1856), and while projecting other surveys was prostrated with typhoid fever. On his recovery he became acquainted with Zadock Pratt, who sent him into the western part of the state to select a site for a tannery. He chose a fine hemlock growth, erected a saw-mill and blacksmith-shop, and with Mr. Pratt was soon doing a large lumbering business. Subsequently he bought out Mr. Pratt's interest, and conducted the business alone till just before the panic of 1857, when he sold out his entire plant. In 1857 he became the largest stockholder and a director in the Stroudsburg, Pa., bank. Shortly after the crisis he bought the bonds of the Rutland and Washington railroad at ten cents on the dollar, abandoning every other interest and putting all his money into railroad securities. For a long time he was president, treasurer, and general superintendent of this company. He brought about a consolidation of the Rensselaer and Saratoga road, and with the proceeds removed to New York city in 1859, established himself as a broker, and invested heavily in Erie railway stock. He entered the directory of that company and became president, holding the office till the reorganization of the directory in 1872. He next made large purchases of the stocks of the Union Pacific, the Wabash, the Texas Pacific, the St. Louis and northern, the Missouri Pacific, and the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas railroad companies, taking the latter out of the hands of its receiver. He also invested deeply in the stock of the Atlantic and Pacific telegraph company, and on its consolidation with the Western union he organized the American union (1879), which was merged into the Western union in 1881. In December, 1880, official records showed that Mr. Gould was in control of 10,000 miles of railroad, or more than one ninth of the entire mileage of the country. Early in 1881 he became interested in the elevated railroad system of New York city. A doubt having been cast upon his financial standing, he summoned several gentlemen to his private office on 13 March, 1882, and spread before them for examination certificates of stocks having a face value of $53,000,000, all in his own name, and offered to produce $20,000,000 more, if desired. In March, 1887, Mr. Gould purchased a controlling interest in the St. Louis and San Francisco railroad company, which has an aggregate mileage of nearly 900 miles, and is a joint owner with the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fé railroad company, of the Atlantic and Pacific, and the western portion of the Southern Pacific railroad companies. These, with the projected links, gave him full control of an additional 3,000 miles of rail.