Gould, Jay (1836–1892)

By: Julia L. Vivian

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: January 1, 1995

Jay Gould, railroad magnate, son of John Burr and Mary (More) Gould, was born at Roxbury, New York, on May 27, 1836. He worked for a blacksmith, clerked in a country store, attended an academy, and learned the rudiments of surveying. Early in life he married Helen Day Miller, and they had six children. In 1856 Gould published History of Delaware County and Border Wars of New York. Gould began speculating in small railways in 1859 and soon amassed a fortune. By 1874 he was a director of the Union Pacific Railroad; in 1878 he bought control of the Kansas Pacific Railroad; in 1879 he bought control of the Denver Pacific, the Central Pacific, and the Missouri Pacific lines. With the construction of railroads west across Texas, Gould had much railroad investment in the state. In 1881 he was feted in Texas in the year that he and C. P. Huntington were racing to cross West Texas with their Texas and Pacific and Southern Pacific lines. By agreement they decided to use joint tracks for the two lines between Sierra Blanca and El Paso and made amicable arrangements for other construction in Texas. By 1890 Gould owned the Missouri Pacific, the Texas and Pacific, the St. Louis Southwestern, and the International–Great Northern, one-half of the mileage in the Southwest. He died in New York City on December 2, 1892.

Dictionary of American Biography. Maury Klein, The Life and Legend of Jay Gould (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986). S. G. Reed, A History of the Texas Railroads (Houston: St. Clair, 1941; rpt., New York: Arno, 1981).
Time Periods:
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Julia L. Vivian, “Gould, Jay,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 18, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/gould-jay.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995