Robber Baron Real Estate Deal Pertaining to the Smyrna and Delaware Bay Railroad Company

Signed by Jay Gould

Item: 15937
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GOULD, JAY. (1836-1892). American financier actively involved in American railroad development. DS. (“Jay Gould”). 3pp. Tall folio. New York, July 21, 1881. A legal document transferring the property of the Smyrna and Delaware Bay Railroad Company from Gould to railroad attorney and Metropolitan Museum of Art patron ROBERT W. DE FOREST (1848-1931). Also signed by Gould’s wife HELEN D. GOULD (1838-1889, “Helen D. Gould”).

“This indenture made the Twenty First day of July in the year one thousand eight hundred and eighty one Between Jay Gould and Helen D Gould his wife of the City County and State of New York party of the first part and Robert W de Forest of the City County and State aforesaid party.

Of the second part: Witnesseth, that the said party of the first part, for and in consideration of the sum of One Dollars lawful money of the United States of America, to him in hand paid by the said part of the second part, at or before the ensealing and delivery of theses presents, the receipt where of is hereby acknowledged, have granted, bargained, sold, aliened, remised, released, conveyed and confirmed, and by these, presents do grant, bargain, sell, alien, remise, release, convey and confirm unto the said party of the second part and to his heirs and assigns, forever,

Jay Gould

All and singular the lands tenements and hereditaments formerly belonging to The Smyrna and Delaware Bay Railroad Company situated in Duck Creek Kenton Hundreds in Kent County, and State of Delaware aforesaid, the same being all that part of said lands, tenements and hereditaments which begin on Bombay Hook Island at the Delaware Bay and running thence to the line dividing Newcastle and Kent Counties at or near lands formerly of Thomas B. Lockwood now of John Appleton, and in the Course thereof adjoining lands of James W. Spruance, Eli Logan and James Smith, Mortimer H. Bickley, Anderson Ford, Peter G. Robinson, William Cummins, Samuel Catts, John. H. Bewley, William Daniels, Elizabeth Hoffecker, Philip Vinyard, George W. Cammins, James R. Clements, Jacob Holman, Joseph Kenneday, Aaron Morris, Augustus Scout, John G. Black, Eben Cloaks heirs, John A. Cavender Ayer’s Slockly—Ostrander, Tilghman Foxwell, and other lands, the said part being in Duck Creek Hundred and Kenton Hundred.

And also that part of said lands, tenements and hereditaments which begin at the line divided Kent and Newcastle Counties at or nearlands of Charles Nambers and running thence adjoining lands of Michael Bryan, Thomas Laubs heirs, and other lands to the line dividing Kent and Newcastle Counties, at or near the lands of John Tharp and lands late of Delaney heirs to: Said part being in Kenton Hundred aforesaid and being together all the lands tenements and hereditaments of said “The Smyrna and Delaware Bay Railroad Company” situated in Kent County aforesaid and being the roadbed on which a railroad is laid down and constituted, and lands contiguous thereto and on each side of, and also the bridges, piers, rails ties, trestles, bolts, nuts, plates, spikes, switches, sidings, turntables, and all and singular other appendages and appetences thereto belonging or appertaining or therewith connected or used and being the same lands premises and property which were levied upon and sold, by Charles Williamson Esquirred Sheriff of Kent County aforesaid and or execution process against “The Smyrna and Delaware Bay Railroad Company” and which were in due form conveyed unto the said Samuel M. Harrington and Franklin G. Cotton their heirs and assigns by his certain deed poll [?] duly executed bearing date the thirtieth day of October AD 1874, and duly recorded in the office of recorder of deeds etc. in and for Kent County aforesaid at Dover in Book R. Vol. 5 page 117 etc. and which the said Karrington and Cotton were conveyed to Jay Gould by deed dated January 6. 1875 and recorded in the office of the recorder of Deeds etc. in and for said Kent County at Dover on January 11, 1875 as by Relation to the said conveyances (to which far greater certainty reference is hereby expressly made) will more fully and at large appear – And all and singular the buildings improvements, fixtures, ways, roads, waters, water courses, rights, liberties privileges, hereditaments and appurtenances to the said lands tenements hereditament premises and property belonging or in any way appertaining and the reversion and reversions remainder and remainders, rents issues and profits thereof and all the estate right, title interest property claim demand and possibility of them, the said Samuel M. Harrington and Frank B. Colton and Catherine his wife and each of them at law or in equity of it in or out of the same and every part and parcel thereof.

Together with all and singular the tenements, hereditaments, and appurtenances thereunto belonging or in any wise appertaining, and the reversion and reversions, remainder and remainders, of dower property, profession, claim and demand whatsoever, as well in law as in equity, of the said party of the first part, of, in or to the above described premises, and every part and parcel, thereof with the appurtenances. To have and to hold all and singular the above mentioned and ascribed premises, together with the appurtenances, unto the said party of the second part, his heirs and assigns forever.

And the said Jay Gould does for himself his heirs, executors and administrators do hereby covenant, promise and agree to and with the said party, of the second part his heirs, and assigns, that he has not made, done, committed, or executed any act or acts, thing or things whatsoever, whereby or by means whereof, the above mentioned and described premises, or any part or parcel thereof, now are or at any time hereafter, shall or may be impeached, charged or incumbered in any manner or way whatsoever.

In Witness Whereof the said party of the first part have hereunto set hands and seals the day and year above written”

Gould began his diverse career as a surveyor, proprietor of a leather tannery and a leather merchant, but it was on Wall Street that he found his real talent as a financial speculator. As he manipulated the financial world during the late 1860s and early 1870s, he developed a reputation as a powerful and unscrupulous force. Gould set out to control the Erie Railroad engaging in the so-called “Erie War” with fellow railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt. By issuing bonds for the expansion of the Erie Railroad, Gould made a fortune before the project collapsed. One of Gould’s most controversial money-making endeavors was to drive up the price of gold and encourage foreign merchants to purchase wheat that would then be transported on his Wabash Railroad, thereby increasing its revenues. This led to the 1869 Wall Street panic known as “Black Friday.” Despite the scheme’s failure, Gould soon recovered enough capital to buy controlling interests in several additional rail lines, including, in 1873, Delaware’s Kent County Railroad. He immediately began an effort to link it to the Smyrna and Delaware Bay Railroad but the project was abandoned after the Panic of 1873 and, in 1877, with the country still in the grip of a depression, the Kent County Railroad was sold at foreclosure to the New Jersey Southern Railroad (later part of the Central Railroad of New Jersey). The merger of the two lines, completed in 1883, formed the Baltimore and Delaware Bay Railroad, which linked New York City to Baltimore via railroad lines passing through New Jersey.

By the early 1880s, Gould was gaining control of Manhattan’s transit system as well as the Western Union telegraph company. For these monopolies, Gould was a frequent subject of Thomas Nast’s cartoons and other editorial criticism. “Though reviled for more than a century as Wall Street’s greatest villain, Jay Gould was in fact its most original creative genius. Gould was the undisputed master of the nation’s railroads and telegraph systems at a time when these were the fastest-growing new technologies of the age… He created new ways of manipulating markets, assembling capital, and swallowing his competitors. Many of these methods are now standard practice; others were unique to their circumstances and unrepeatable; some were among the first things prohibited by the SEC when it came into being in the 1930s,” (Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons, Renehan, Jr.).

Forest was a New York City attorney who married the daughter of John Taylor Johnston, president and developer of the Central Railroad of New Jersey. In 1870, Johnston used his wealth to help found New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to which he donated his personal art collection. Forest served as general counsel for the Central Railroad and held executive positions in numerous manufacturing concerns in New Jersey. Together with his wife, he greatly increased the Metropolitan’s holdings, donating significant Americana to its collections and, after he was elected president of the institution, added the American Wing to the museum.

Underneath the final, struck through portion of the printed document a purple-ink stamped form is completed by hand stating that Helen Gould when “privately examined… apart from her husband acknowledged that she executed the said deed willingly, without compulsion, or threats, or fear of her husband [sic] displeasure.”

Bearing a purple paper seal of the Commissioner for Delaware in New York blind-embossed with the great seal of Delaware. Folded with a separation along the horizontal fold which has been nominally repaired. Docketed on the verso and blind-embossed with Kent County’s seal. In excellent condition and uncommon.

Robber Baron Real Estate Deal Pertaining to the Smyrna and Delaware Bay Railroad Company

Signed by Jay Gould

$1500 • item #15937

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