Jason “Jay” Gould (1836-1892) – Businessman & Railroad Developer
Jay Gould was a leading American Railroad developer and speculator. He has long been vilified as an archetypal robber baron, whose successes made him the ninth riches man in history. It all began with his school principal, who was credited with getting him a job working as a bookkeeper for a blacksmith. A year later, the blacksmith offered Gould half interest in the blacksmith shop, which he later sold to his father during the early part of 1854. In 1856, Gould entered a partnership with Zadock Pratt to create a tanning business in Pennsylvania. Eventually, he bought out Pratt, who retired. When he was in his 40s, Gould started to build a system of railroads in the Midwest and West. Beginning in 1879, he gained control of four western railroads, including the Union Pacific, which completed part of the transcontinental railroad, and the Missouri Pacific Railroad. By 1880, he controlled 10,000 miles of railway, about one-ninth of the length of rail in the United States at that time, and, by 1882, he had control of interest in 15% of the country’s tracks. Because the railroads were making enormous profits and had control of rate settings, his wealth increased dramatically.
Long after Gould’s death, in 1916, his children, Frank and Anna, sued the four trustees he had selected in his Will, which included his older son, George Jay Gould, for mismanagement of their father’s estate. For eleven years this suit, to which there were innumerable parties, children, estranged grandchildren, and estranged great grandchildren, dragged on. Finally, it was determined that the estate had been mismanaged and a judgement for $50 million was entered against the four trustees. A settlement for which was made by compromise at $20 million.
Jay Gould was a tenacious businessman, but even successful businessmen can fail to properly plan. If you want to minimize the consequences of failing to properly plan your estate, then contact The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. for a free initial consultation on estate planning, trust planning, and/or probate issues.