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    Jay Gould Document Signed "Jay Gould." Six pages, 13.75" x 8.5", New York, December 14, 1869. This is a deed of trust to the Erie Railway Company for several parcels of land purchased by Gould in the New Jersey Meadowlands - most of which ran alongside the Erie Railroad's key Jersey City branch. Folds, some light toning, loss to top left corner of each page, not affecting text, a few contemporary paper losses in margins and not affecting text, else very good overall.

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    Gould purchased the parcels in September 1868 just as he was consolidating control over the financially troubled railroad. The lands would later form a key part of Gould's settlement with the Erie Railroad after the railroad sued him for $10 million, accusing its former president of stock manipulation and embezzlement among other sins.


    The document chronicles several transactions made by Gould in the fall of 1868 including this example: On 15 September 1868, Gould purchased two parcels of land in Hudson, New Jersey (now part of Jersey City) from John and Caroline Cook ten acre tract known as "Canada Meadow" located on the banks of the Penhorn Creek (a tributary of the Hackensack River). He also purchased a seven acre salt meadow from the same couple, "Bounded Northwest by Pen Horne Creek, northeast by a ditch, southeast by the Railroad." together with a few other minor parcels. In addition, the Cooks also sold a ten acre tract on the North Bergen side of Penhorn Creek and a one acre salt meadow nearby. In total, the Cooks sold Gould five parcels of land. At the conclusion of the document Gould declared that he would continue to own and hold the five parcels ". in trust only, for the use and benefit of the Erie Railway Company . that, I, or my heirs, shall and will convey the said premises by a good and sufficient deed to the said The Erie Railway Company, or any other person or corporation, whenever the said Company my so direct and require. And that I or my heirs, shall not do, or knowingly suffer or permit any act, deed, matter or thing, whereby said premises can, shall or may be in anywise impaired, injured or encumbered, in title, interest, charge, estate, or otherwise." A survey of period maps indicates that most of these parcels were alongside the main branch linking Jersey City to the main line of the Erie Railroad - property with enormous value.  After the Erie's board of directors in 1872 forced him from the railroad's presidency, they slapped Gould with a $10 million lawsuit that accused him of, among a long list of other things, purchasing numerous tracts of land with Erie funds but under his name. Gould had little to worry about. The Erie was a financial disaster (and was long before Gould entered the picture), and its new President, Peter H. Watson, was unwilling to engage in a protracted legal battle. Gould got wind of Watson's disposition, and in a series of secret meetings negotiated a settlement. The Erie agreed to accept compensation from Gould in the form of various stocks, bonds and real estate, including "The various pieces of real estate in New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio." according to a published letter in the press. The combined value Gould believed "worth more to the Erie Company than the total sum claimed." Gould did slyly admit his guilt in the nature of at least some of the transactions, stressing that "Some of these properties were purchased with my own means, and the Company has no claim upon them, but they are necessary for its use." (Jay Gould to Peter H. Watson, 17 December 1872 as quoted in the New York Times, 20 December 1872). Because Gould later arranged to have his own accounting records relative to his involvement with the Erie destroyed in 1874, we may never be able to judge the veracity of his statements (Edward Renehan, Dark Genius of Wall Street. [2005], 212-214).


    While for some, this is yet another example Gould as the speculative opportunist - it also calls attention to Gould's astute business acumen and deep understanding of the business and operations of railroads. Many of the parcels named in this particular transaction did remain under the control of the Erie, some of which are now part of the vast Croxton rail yards located in the meadows between Secaucus and Jersey City.

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    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    9th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 15
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