Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bert Walker: St. Louis Railroads to W.A. Harriman & Co.

All That Glitters ... May Be Gilt
He began to tell about an enormous speculation he was thinking of embarking some capital in—a speculation which some London bankers had been over to consult with him about—and soon he was building glittering pyramids of coin, and Washington was presently growing opulent under the magic of his eloquence.
--THE GILDED AGE: A Tale of Today
By Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner
Westmoreland Place gates
by Julian Street
In American life during the gilded age a great deal of secret networking went on in the parlors of homes in sumptuous mansions in St. Louis and the various social clubs (golf and tennis) enjoyed by wealthy businessmen, whose sons and daughters could safely hobnob with similar members of the city's elite. According to the authors of Westmoreland and Portland Places, the creme de la creme of St. Louis business wealth in the 1890s lived on those two adjacent streets, secluded and gated from the rest of the city. Quoting a granddaughter of William L. Huse (who built 9 Westmoreland Place in 1891), the book captures a glimpse of life in St. Louis:
Every night they would have whist games, all people from the block. It was sort of a club. They were all good friends--the husbands all had the same type of business interests. 
These families were the friends and neighbors of George Herbert Walker Bush's maternal grandfather for whom Poppy Bush was named. George Walker Bush's favorite uncle, Herbie Walker, born in 1905, and Prescott Bush's wife-to-be Dottie Walker, lived among them until Bert Walker moved the family to New York in 1920. In April that year he obtained passports for himself and daughter Nancy Walker, with assistance from Howard F. Whitney, secretary of the American Golf Association. The estate he purchased in Long Island was near the Wheatley Hills Golf Club, but also close to the polo field. About the time he acquired his residence he was in partnership with Averell Harriman in Log Cabin Stud. The New York census of 1925 listed the family in an apartment at 453 Madison Avenue at East 50th Street, directly across the street from St. Patrick's Cathedral. By then Herbie was attending Yale. The 1940 census shows Herbie's family living in Greenwich on Dingletown Road, but at the time his wife died decades later, their address was 64 Hawthorne, much closer to the Bush network of families.

Dottie married Bush in 1921, and Herbie married Mary Dillon Carter, a St. Louis girl, in the fall after completing Yale in 1927, where he was in Skull and Bones. He then returned to St. Louis for a time to run the investment bank founded by his father in that city, while Bert remained in New York until his death in 1953. When Herbie's brother, James Wear Walker, married Sarah O'Keefe in 1948, the news item stated the elder Walkers lived at 1 Sutton Place, South, and that James and his bride were to live in Old Westbury on Long Island, most likely the Wheatley Hills farm Bert had acquired in partnership Log Cabin Stud Farm many years earlier.

Time is never static, and neither is history. Lives and fortunes overlap. Those who are born at the time are destined to fall, to be superseded perhaps by members of their own financial network who are hoisting themselves to the top of the heap. If Averell Harriman felt an affinity for Bert Walker, the feeling may have been passed to him by his father, who admired Bert's ability to take pools of money begging to be managed and using those funds in productive technology. Bert took western wealth from St. Louis back to the East and helped the Harriman sons meld those fortunes with those managed by investment bankers from other parts of the country--bankers he would meet playing golf and polo at country clubs on Long Island for the most part.

George Herbert (Bert) Walker reached his maturity in St. Louis Society during the 1890's--the gilded age when gold was of primary importance to balance international trade. You will learn in Bert's genealogy that he was the fourth of five sons of  St. Louis dry goods wholesaler D. D. Walker, and that he played polo with illustrious members of that St. Louis exclusive community.[1]

Growing up at 53 Vandeventer Avenue, Bert and his siblings lived a block and a half from the mansion where Samuel Cupples  lived, which today is a museum on the Saint Louis University campus. D.D. Walker and his three eldest sons were  prosperous wholesale dry goods merchants with the Ely & Walker company which D.D. created with various men with whom he worked for many years, beginning before the civil war.

Bert's father was happy with his standing in the St. Louis community, but they had a falling out because Bert wanted to use his father's wealth for himself by adding it to that of other local capitalists in the New York Stock Exchange. But first, he had to rescue men who had invested in railroads they had built to the south and west from St. Louis, reorganizing and consolidating those railroads to benefit the investors--the men and their families with whom he had hobnobbed at the various clubs in St. Louis of which his and his wife's family had long been members.

New England's "Old Money"
in St. Louis--the Filleys

The "oldest money" in St. Louis originated back in Hartford County, Connecticut--more than a decade before D.D. Walker himself was born in 1840 in Illinois. Two of the earliest pioneers from New England were brothers Oliver Dwight Filley and Giles Franklin Filley--a family into which D.D. Walker, Jr. was destined to marry in 1900.

Charter Oak Stoves
Oliver made his way to what was then then western territory in 1829, only recently acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. His brother, Giles Filley, followed him in 1834. They had been trained by their father, a tinsmith, to make decorative tinware, while Oliver also teamed up with Thomas Hart Benton (U.S. Senator)  and other men of St. Louis who elected him mayor in 1858. His two-year term which began in 1859 was succeeded by Daniel G. Taylor, a man who had a son of the same name, a Catholic attorney, who would be hired by D.D. Walker in 1914 to fight an incompetency lawsuit filed by his sons.

Oliver Dwight Filley died in 1881, survived by three sons and three daughters:
  • Henry Marcus Filley, who died unmarried.
  • John Dwight Filley, who lived at 43 Portland Place as early as 1900, while working as secretary of the St. Louis Trust Co. He applied for a passport in 1923 with the intent of visiting every country (except Germany) on the European continent, as well as the British Isles and Algeria. He met his death from a heart attack suffered in Constantinople (within the Ottoman Empire) on March 22, 1930, less than a week before the ancient city's name was changed to Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Daughter, Jeannette, married Isaac Morton, and lived two doors away from the Walker family when the 1900 census was made. Between their two homes lived Marion Lionberger Davis and her husband John D. Davis, an attorney and son of Horatio N. Davis, affiliated with the Mississippi Valley Trust Co. 
  • Daughter Maria Filley married John Tilden Davis, who would die at the young age of 50 in 1894. Davis' father, Samuel C. Davis and uncle, John Tilden, had been founding partners in a wholesale dry goods company as early as 1837, though Samuel Davis bought out his brother-in-law partners in 1852 and named the company for himself. He later made his son, John Tilden Davis, a partner with him. John T. Davis built a mansion at 17 Westmoreland Place in 1893.
  • Daughter Alice Filley married Robert Moore of Pennsylvania and, in 1900, lived at 61 Vandeventer, a few doors away from her sister, Jeannette Filley Morton, both neighbors of the Walker family. Having worked as a civil engineer for various short line railroads affiliated with Harriman's Illinois Central, Moore was brought in by the committee that reorganized the St. Louis & Southwestern Railway Company ("Cotton Belt"), of which he was elected a director in its first year of operation in 1892. He joined the board with Jay Gould's son Edwin, who, with Samuel Fordyce, ran the company until Fordyce resigned in 1898. 
  • Oliver Brown Filley, whose first wife died in childbirth in 1866, later married Mary Churchill McKinley and had three children:
    • Mary Elizabeth Filley married a Welsh surgeon, Duncan Campbell Floyd Fitzsimmons and lived in London.
    • Anne McKinley Filley married John Stanley Ames of Boston.
    • Mary Pyne Filley
    • Oliver Dwight Filley, born in 1883, married in 1917, Mary Pyne, daughter of Percy Rivington Pyne and Maud Howland Pyne--descendants of an early founder of the bank now known as Citigroup. At the time of their marriage, Mary Pyne lived in a New York City mansion located at 680 Park Avenue, and Oliver was a lieutenant-colonel in the Army's Aviation Section, Signal Corps, fighting in WWI. He had gone to prep school at Rugby, England, before graduating in 1906 from Harvard. Mary's maternal grandfather was Gardiner Greene Howland, and her mother's half-sister, Rebecca Howland, who died in 1876, had been the first wife of James Roosevelt, before he married Sarah Delano. Their only son Franklin became President in 1933. Thus Rebecca's son James Roosevelt, Jr., called "Rosy," FDR's half-brother, was first cousin of Mary Pyne (Mrs. Oliver) Filley (1883-1961). After Oliver's death, Mary married C. Suydam Cutting. Along with Oliver Dwight Filley, Cutting became a member of the espionage ring known as "The Room," which helped FDR with secret intelligence matters. 
John T. Davis "added vastly to his patrimony" by marrying Oliver's daughter, Maria Filley, and by creating St. Louis Trust Co. (later St. Louis Union Trust). Their son, famed tennis enthusiast Dwight Filley Davis, was thus Louise Filley Walker's cousin, whose name is most well known for donating the funds to establish the Davis Cup, which G.H. Walker helped him to set up.

Giles branched off from the tinware partnership with Oliver to found Excelsior Stove Works in 1849, which was incorporated in 1865 as the Excelsior Manufacturing Co. Giles' son, Robert Eldridge Filley, born in 1855, worked for his father's stove/range company with his brothers until Giles' retirement in 1896. Following a period of insolvency, the company stock was acquired by Excelsior's former secretary, George D. Dana.

Dorothy Walker, close friend of Helen Gratz
Robert Filley's elder brother, F. Herbert Filley (Louis Filley Walker's uncle), married Mary Colt and moved during the 1920s to Greenwich, Connecticut (living for years about three miles away from Prescott Bush). This brother worked for the American Manufacturing Company, a company whose history linked St. Louis founder, Benjamin Gratz, with William Rockefeller's son, Godfrey Stillman Rockefeller, through Godfrey's marriage to Helen "Didi" Gratz, one of Dorothy Walker's closest friends in St. Louis.

In fact, as shown in the clipping to the right, Dottie had originally been announced as a bridesmaid at Helen's wedding, but had to withdraw, most likely because she was pregnant by then with Poppy. Their closeness is further confirmed in the book by Peter and Rochelle Schweizer, The Bushes: Portrait of a Dynasty (at page 58), which implies that it was to be near her friend Didi Gratz Rockefeller that the Bushes moved to Greenwich. At page 33 of the book the authors state that Bert Walker set up the W.A. Harriman bank in December 1919, and that the family moved to New York a few months later as its president. With him he undoubtedly took many of his St. Louis clients of great wealth we have mentioned before.

A Nose for Money

E.H. "Ned" Harriman's early career in railroading can best be seen by perusing the description of him that appeared in McClure's Magazine a year after his death in 1909. The authors' verbal image of a young Ned of 1875 could just as easily be used to paint a portrait of Bert Walker in 1900 --member of the most "sociable" clubs, "athletic and sporting," "drove a good trotting horse," "quick and clever boxer," and the "leading spirit among the younger aristocrats" whose "family or friends were interested in the secure investment of Illinois Central" stock.

Young Bert's interest, however, was not in the Illinois Central in 1900, but in the rail lines owned by his wealthy neighbors on Westmoreland and Portland Place. Ned Harriman, before April 1900 had taken notice of this investment syndicate, which controlled traffic crossing the Mississippi River between St. Louis and East St. Louis because he was vying for control of the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad, which he wanted for his Alton line. Transversing the Mississippi River, the Alton felt hampered by rates set by the St. Louis Terminal Association.

The Eastern Illinois's southern terminus at the Thebes railroad bridge connected to the St. Louis Southwestern, or "Cotton Belt" Railroad. Placed in receivership earlier, it was purchased in 1891 by Louis Fitzgerald, purchasing agent for an investment syndicate which incorporated the purchasing  company. To discover the name of Fitzgerald's principal, we only need to look to the 1905 New York Legislature's investigation of the life insurance business. Jacob Schiff revealed in his testimony that he had held shares in Equitable Life as a nominee for Henry B. Hyde, and testified that Louis Fitzgerald was at that time the president of the Mercantile Trust Company, a "large factor in financial matters of the Equitable Society." Fitzgerald was in fact "the most active man in the matters pertaining to negotiations of purchases by the Equitable Society for some years," and he chaired the Equitable's executive committee until 1902.

Fitzgerald was also in 1895 chairman of the reorganization committee for the Union Pacific Railroad (controlled at that time by E.H. Harriman). Fitzgerald, like Schiff himself, handled numerous syndicated interests (listed by the investigation) similar to what have become known as limited partnerships. Another of those "interests" handled by Fitzgerald was that of George Gould. George Gould also had a gated mansion, but it was in New Jersey with seventeen servants living onsite.

When we follow the business rivalry involving railroads at that particular place and time, we learn a great deal about how our national history developed--how the big money worked to gain control of St. Louis rail traffic, but also how various financiers behind the curtain played a chess game to take control of the developing central banking system in the U.S. through what was to become known a generation later as Brown Brothers, Harriman. That was the financial medium Bert Walker used to merge St. Louis, Chicago and New York wealth to shift control of the central banking system from Morgan to the Rockefellers. One author who has recognized the historical importance of these networks in explaining the rise of the Bush family is Richard Ben Cramer, who wrote in What It Takes:

To purchase additional lines and maintain the facilities Gould had had to go into debt, and the indebtedness resulted in a demand in June 1908 by his creditors for receivers to protect their interest in the Gould system. At that time it was learned that John D. Rockefeller's shares in various Gould lines had been transferred to his "charitable" corporation called the General Education Board. The receiverships began in 1908, followed by Ned Harriman's death a year later.

As early as 1907 many of these railroad men sat together as directors on the board of the Mercantile Trust Company at 120 Broadway. As of 1907 the percentage of stock the Mercantile Trust in St. Louis owned in National City Bank and in Bankers Trust was significant, but by that time D.D. Walker had left the board, his seat replaced by Dan C. Nugent, who was married to Bert Walker's niece, a daughter of William H. Walker, his brother.

In 1912, this building, known as the Equitable Building, would be burned in January 1912, destroying records of all the Harriman railroads, including the Southern Pacific Railroad, as well as records of August Belmont and Company and Mercantile Trust which had become a subsidiary of the Bankers' Trust Company. The cash and securities in the fire-proof vaults was rescued and consisted of a quarter of a billion dollars in value.

George J. Gould's Family

The Gould siblings had grown up in northern New Jersey's hunt country, where their father, Jay Gould, as notorious a robber baron as John D. Rockefeller, had built a summer home. After Jay's death in 1892, George J. Gould succeeded his father as head of the Gould railroads, and he also created a polo field and a golf course at Lakewood, called the Ocean County Hunt and Country Club. As early as 1894, John D. Rockefeller had begun to visit the area and began negotiations in 1901 to acquire property there.

In February 1903, according to the New York Times, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Walker attended a function at the Lakewood Hotel during the time both Rockefeller and George J. Gould were in town, celebrating the opening of the country club's new home. Whether or not the reference was to Bert Walker is unknown.

The other Gould siblings, who inherited their father's stock, fought among themselves and were easily manipulated by members of other syndicates, notably B. F. Yoakum who showed up from the Rock Island rail system with plans to meld the old Gould empire into a rail network focused on territory that extended from Chicago to St. Louis and farther south.

The Rock Island system, in the spring of 1903, purchased 14/15 of the common stock of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad and its affiliated lines--better known as the Frisco--through a tender offer made through J.P. Morgan & Co.:
Deal Is Completed Between Two Systems.
Railroad Map of Country Changed by the Combination.
New Property Becomes at Once Powerful Rival of Great Lines.
Special Dispatch to The Call

NEW YORK, Feb. 25.-- In the deal between the Rock Island Railroad and the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad, completed in this city to-day, in which the control of the latter passes to the former, there has been brought into existence an immense and powerful system which completely changes the railroad map of the United States and which by one stroke places the great Rock Island system among the first of transcontinental properties. Rumors which have been current for several days past of a change of control of the Frisco, as the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad is commonly known, crystallized to-day in the statement that the Rock Island, had acquired control and that the transaction would be carried out through the banking-house of J. P. Morgan & Co. 

The truth of this statement was admitted last night by one of the most important interests in the Frisco management. By the purchase of the Frisco the Rock Island has added 5000 miles of track to its system. The Rock Island previously operated 7033 miles and had contracts for new construction amounting to more than one thousand miles, hence it would in a short time own and operate more than 8000 miles. The announcement to-day means that the Rock Island Company will have under its control a total of 14,343 miles of road. The capital of the Rock Island, exclusive of collateral trust bonds, amounts to $150,000.000. Its capital will be practically doubled when the details of this purchase are completed. 

The acquisition of the Frisco gives the Rock Island a direct line from far northern points, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, to New Orleans and Galveston. The Rock Island will possess two of the best terminals in Chicago and from that center the system will fork out to all points in the West. Its lines will run to St. Louis in two distinct routes. Its terminals there are now equal to the Gould properties in that city. It will compete with the Atchison and the Missouri Pacific as no other lines in the Middle West and Southwest could under combined management. 

The Rock Island will reach Birmingham and from that point it will extend south to New Orleans, where a new terminal has been acquired. In business from Chicago to New Orleans it will strike a heavy blow at the Illinois Central, [emphasis added] which has hitherto been the most direct route between these two cities. With the possible exception of the Burlington, no other railroad property in the United States will so gridiron the States of Missouri, Kansas and Illinois as does the new and projected Rock Island system.
E. H. Harriman, who had spent a decade building up the Illinois Central, would have seen Yoakum's action in 1903 as tantamount to war.

Bert's brokerage company opened in St. Louis only three years earlier and less than ten years before Harriman would drop dead at an early age (61), leaving the empire, which he was still in the process of creating, in the hands of Robert Scott Lovett, who was acting as mentor for Harriman's two sons not yet of university age. The McClure's article, published a year or so after Ned's death, showed the division of capital invested in railroads by group as of 1906. Nowhere do we see there the name B. F. Yoakum or the Frisco, per se:


Yoakum's name was not mentioned because he did not own controlling stock in the railroads he built, but was merely a contractor hired by silent owners, known as the syndicate, which still saw railroads as THE technology. G. H. Walker, newly married in 1899, looking to open an investment bank at the same time, began his new career very much attuned to financing railroad securities on behalf of business investors in St. Louis, particularly the St. Louis-based Frisco Railroad, whose general manager from 1897 until 1913 had been Benjamin F. Yoakum.

According to Brian Solomon (author of North American Railroad Family Trees), George Gould and his siblings inherited Jay Gould's railroad holdings upon his death in 1892, with George Gould working for years to develop them before eventually bringing in others to assist. Solomon's book contains a helpful graphic to illustrate his summation (page 22) that George Gould wanted to build a network to traverse the nation from Baltimore to San Francisco, which Benjamin Yoakum began to manage beginning in 1896. Around 1904 Yoakum used this Frisco system as:
the foundation for a group of roads connecting Chicago, St. Louis, and the Gulf of Mexico. In 1903 he took control of the Chicago & Eastern Illinois while developing a close affiliation with Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (Rock Island Lines), the large network controlled by the Reid-Moore syndicate. Later Yoakum founded the Gulf Coast Lines.
One of Gould's railroads not listed above was the Missouri, Kansas & Texas (MKT), called the "Katy," which, though operated separately, was leased to the Missouri Pacific and used in connection with Gould's International & Great Northern (I&GN) in Texas. The Byrd family, as we have seen, were invested in the San Antonio, Uvalde & Gulf (S.A.U.&G.) Railroad whose main connecting railroads were lines called the Katy (M-K-T), the Gulf Coast and I&GN--SAU&G acquired by Gould's Missouri Pacific in 1920.[2]

The capital syndicate in St. Louis for which Yoakum worked was comprised primarily of the St. Louis Trust Company, incorporated in 1889 by Edward C. Simmons, John A. Scudder (owner of steamboat and packet companies on Mississippi River), and Samuel M. Kennard (an organizer of the Mercantile Club). Daniel Catlin (director of State Savings Association and of St. Louis Club) and John T. Davis (an owner of Samuel C. Davis dry goods at Washington and Fifth), were not present at the first organizing meeting but had an interest in creating the trust company. The incorporators asked Thomas H. West to become president of their company, with John Tilden Davis serving as the first vice president. The trust company opened in a small room in the Equitable building at Sixth and Locust streets with a capital of $500,000, and in 1902 it merged with the Union Trust Co., which owned the building at 705 Olive. A. L. Shapleigh was an early Union director. The merged company --the St. Louis Union Trust Co.--moved to offices St. Louis Trust had built in 1900 at Fourth and Locust.

The Gould Railroads (shown in the graphic above) were essential to the economy of St. Louis. After Jay Gould died in 1892, his son George J. Gould took the helm of the western railroads, while he sought connections with Chicago and the East through the Rock Island system. His competitor, E.H. Harriman, had expanded the Illinois Central he had controlled since 1883, until it, by 1898, reached St. Louis, and merged it into the Union Pacific, giving him control of distribution in the northeast quadrant of America with connections to the Pacific coast. But Harriman wanted more.

In 1901 Harriman acquired enough stock to control the Southern Pacific, which was then completing its process of building a southern route from California to New Orleans. While the Gould and Rock Island networks were putting the finishing touch on their route from St. Louis to the Rio Grande Valley and Mexico, Harriman had managed to snatch certain lines that would work to encircle St. Louis, on three sides at least. Right in the middle of all this capital sat our friend Bert Walker.

By 1911 South Texas was getting its first taste of what business could be like if its citizens had the same access to railroads as their competitors farther to the north and east. As the news article to the left indicates, the Frisco Railroad had completed its lines across Texas from St. Louis, and its officials were leading a marketing tour into Brownsville,Texas near the border with Mexico. St. Louis was a  hub to numerous railroads extending out in all directions.

The tour to the Rio Grande Valley was the brainchild of two Frisco officials--William Clyde Nixon (see biography) and George Herbert Walker--who were being feted at the Houston Club by that city's most powerful men of wealth. Nixon had previously been general manager of the Galveston-based Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe railroad, where he would have become acquainted with Houston's elite before he moved to St. Louis in 1906.

George H. Walker was the fourth of five sons of David Davis Walker, founder of a large dry goods store in St. Louis. He was an elusive man to research, and previous segments this blog devoted an intensive search into his family and background, following various branches of the family tree leading up to his life. That research continues. We mention him at this point, however, outside the family study, because of his connection to the railroad which was so focused on developing southern Texas traffic into Mexico. To read the Walker Genealogy, begin with Part I which leads chronologically up to the 41st and 43rd American Presidents named Bush, who were Bert's direct descendants.

Two years prior to this foray from St. Louis to Texas, we find many or the same men named in the clip above listed in 1909 as officers or directors of the St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Railway Co. and all were based either in within the vicinity of Kingsville, Texas (the King Ranch), St. Louis, or in New York at 115 Broadway, an address shared, incidentally, in 1910 with the Illinois Central Railroad had its offices a year after the death of E.H. Harriman. The Rock Island Railroad also had an office in the same building.

King Ranch family members would in the next generation find themselves linked with B. F. Yoakum's family--as Henrietta Rosa Kleberg married John Adrian Larkin, brother of Bessie Yoakum's husband, Francis Rahm Larkin. Incidentally, their mutual friend, Frederick G. Bourne, mentioned in the wedding clip link, was an heir to Singer Sewing Machine, a company intricately involved in plots against FDR in 1934.

1909 officers for St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Railway Co.
The International Bridge, NAFTA forerunner

The Handbook of Texas informs us that:
Editorial about International Bridge
Control of the railroad was exercised by the St. Louis Trust Company until May 26, 1910, when the line was sold to the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad Company [Frisco] for the account of the New Orleans, Texas and Mexico Railroad Company.
Thus the editorial which appeared on the front page of the Brownsville Herald in 1909 was dead right in assessing where the International Bridge then in the works was to be built, and by whom. According to the historical marker placed at the bridge:
John Nance Garner (1868-1967), later Vice President of the United States, introduced a bill into Congress in 1908 providing for the construction of a bridge spanning the river and connecting the two railways.

The Brownsville-Matamoros Bridge Company, owned equally by the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway and the Mexican National Railway was incorporated in 1909 to handle bridge operations. In 1909 St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway magnate Benjamin F. Yoakum (1859-1929) met with representatives of the Mexican National Railway. An agreement was reached, and Yoakum hired the foundation company of New York to build the concrete foundation, and the Wisconsin Bridge Company of Milwaukee to erect the steel spans. Work on the structure began in April 1909. The entire structure, a swing bridge of riveted construction was completed in summer of 1910.
One reason the editorial writer spoke with so much conviction is that the Mexican National Railway had been completed with $10 million in gold bonds issued in 1882, secured by a $5 million subsidy from the Mexican government. The underwriter for these bonds was Matheson & Co.,the same company which had acquired the old opium trading Russell & Co.

To pay for its purchase and new bridge construction, the Frisco Railroad in 1911 set up a tour to travel from St. Louis to Houston, and from there down to South Texas to see where the bridge would cross into Mexico. This tour allowed potential investors and securities traders from American capital centers, as well as bankers from Europe, to inspect the Frisco's facilities all along the route. Benjamin F. Yoakum, a former Texan, was chairman of the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway which was building the bridge in partnership with the Mexican railroad, which had been built by government-subsidized bonds, whose principal was due to be paid in 1912.

The St. Louis Business Network

W.K. Bixby
Yoakum had been general manager of the St. Louis-based Frisco since 1896, and named chairman in 1904. He was well-known among all businessmen in St. Louis, judging from his ability to promote an idea described by Walter Barlow Stevens' book, St. Louis: The Fourth City (1911). In 1908 Yoakum believed the sluggish economy was healthy, but because people were wary of investing, prosperity could be fostered simply by convincing them to spend.

Col. A. T. Perkins
The idea was implemented in St. Louis by incorporating the National Prosperity Association with Edward Campbell Simmons as chairman and William K. Bixby vice chairman of the board of directors. Bixby had been an integral part of the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, while at the same time serving as a trustee of Washington University. Others with that dual role were David R. Francis, Adolphus Busch and A. L. Shapleigh.

Simmons had in 1874 founded  Simmons Hardware, and later sent his three sons to Yale--Wallace Delafield Simmons (Skull and Bones, 1890), Edward Helfenstein Simmons (1892), and George Welch Simmons (Wolf's Head 1900). Simmons' wife's brothers and nephews, the Helfensteins, were also Yale grads.

Albert Thompson Perkins had been superintendent of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy in St. Louis--the old Forbes-owned railroad--before being hired by the Frisco system in 1906. He was hired as an adviser for the St. Louis Bridge and Terminals Commission formed in 1905 to investigate bridge and railroad terminal traffic congestion in St. Louis, along with Hugh McKittrick and R. W. Shapleigh. He was commissioned in 1916 by the Businessmen's Training Camp in Plattsburgh, N.Y., before fighting in France during WWI.

Perkins was the railroad expert for the St. Louis Union Trust Co., whose chairman was Thomas H. West. In 1911 they selected G. H. Walker & Co. of St. Louis as underwriter of the securities issued on behalf of the various short lines the Frisco was building and purchasing to complete and extend its routes. Unfortunately for these businessmen, however, the railroads were headed for receivership in 1913, a legal process which would last three years--ended in part by America's entry into WWI and its need for transportation services. During the receivership years, the name of G. H. Walker was often seen in connection with the parent and subsidiary companies of the Frisco.

George Herbert Walker and the APL

In April 1917 sixteen St. Louis companies incorporated a division of the American Protective League (APL), which appointed G. H. "Bert" Walker as Chief, who was in charge of about 3,000 operatives. Walker as liaison between the businessmen/spies and the FIB (FBI) special agent in charge for St. Louis, Edward James Brennan. [3] The Federal Investigation Bureau was located in the Customs House at 815 Olive Street. The G.H. Walker & Co. investment bank was housed at 307 N. 7th Street, just a block east and in the same block between Olive and Locust Streets. Although Edward Brennan had been born in St. Louis to John Brennan, an Irish born railroad engineer who patented an electric switching device, he did not run in the same circles as the Walker family.

The APL was given sanction for its unpaid volunteers to work under direction of the Justice Department and the Bureau of Investigation, forerunner of the FBI, then headed by A. Bruce Bielaski; A. Mitchell Palmer was at that time Custodian of Alien Property. They also worked as civilians in the Military Intelligence Division of the War Department under Col. Ralph H. Van Deman with its members often being assigned under cover of charitable organizations. One of the biggest uses for the civilian force was to detect "slackers" who failed to report for military service, as well as deserters and AWOL soldiers.

As we see in the Walker genealogy Part IV, G. H. Walker even recruited his own niece, heir to her grandmother's interest in the Kennebunkport property, to work for the general counsel for the Boxing Board of Control, Alfred Marilley, who helped Major A. J. Drexel Biddle, set up the first regulated boxing event in 1919 between Jess Willard and Jack Dempsey, the latter of whom would be accused of being a slacker himself.


[1] According to an article by John Gleason, "From The Golf Journal Archives - A Great Amateur: George Herbert Walker," Oct 22, 2010 at USGA Museum website, originally appeared in July 1997 issue of Golf Journal, with a focus on Walker's role in financing professional golf:
Born into a wealthy St. Louis family, George Herbert Walker’s father owned the largest wholesale drygoods manufacturing firm in the Midwest. George was sent to Stonyhurst, an outstanding English prep school located north of Blackburn on the Lancashire coast. There he excelled in boxing, rugby and soccer. He attended the University of Edinburgh, where he studied pre-med for one year, but he abandoned that pursuit and eventually returned to St. Louis. He founded the banking and investment firm of G.H. Walker & Co., and became a member at St. Louis Country Club, where he played off a 5 handicap and captained the club’s championship polo team. Playing on that squad was Dwight Filley Davis, a ranking American tennis star who in 1900 became the donor of the Davis Cup for men’s international tennis competition."
[2] Morgan group (Atlantic Coast Line; Southern Railway; Erie; Lehigh Valley)
Hill-Morgan (Great Northern; Northern Pacific; CBQ) (from part 2)
Harriman Group (Union Pacific; Southern Pacific; Illinois Central)
Pennsylvania Railroad (Pennsy system; C&O; Norfolk & Western)
New York Central (NYC; Lake Shore & Michigan; Southern; Michigan Central; CCC & St. Louis; NY, Chicago & St. Louis; Pittsburgh & Lake Erie)
Harriman-Pennsy-NYC joint (B&O; Reading)
Joint & Misc (ATSF, including Harriman and Morgan; Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, includes Harriman and Rockefeller; Chi & Northwestern, includes Vanderbilt; Delaware & Hudson; Del., Lackawanna & Western; NY, New Haven & Hartford, with Morgan, Rockefeller and Pennsy; Hocking Valley)
Gould (Missouri Pacific; Denver & Rio Grande; Wabash (p.16, p. 338); Texas & Pacific; St. Louis & Southwestern; Western Maryland; Wheeling & Lake Erie)
Rock Island (Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific; St. Louis & San Francisco; Chicago & Eastern Illinois; Evansville & Terre Haute)

[3] We revealed ties between D. Harold Byrd and Bert Walker, through Byrd's Missouri uncles and cousins, who had an office in St. Louis two blocks east from G.H. Walker & Co. in 1912.In addition the Byrds made an investment in the St. Louis & Gulf line intended to link to Gould's Missouri Pacific-Iron Mountain system, which Jay's son George ran until 1911 when a dispute with his siblings forced him out of direct management, as shown in the New York Times in 1911. Placed in receivership in 1915, the railroad saw three Gould sons kicked from the board, as well as investment advisers, Sam F. Pryor and James Speyer.

 [4] Emerson Hough, The Web (1919).

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