Tuesday, June 13, 2017

How Rich Men in Greenwich Came to Control Pan Am

Back in the fall of 2014 at this blog I was heavily engaged in a review of Nixon's role in Watergate, while at the same time exploring his connection to Rebe Rebozo. Researching Bebe in depth had led me to Bebe's marriage to high school classmate Clare Gunn, who had their marriage annulled just before she married in 1937 an extremely wealthy man, E. Vose Babcock, Jr. That marriage ended in divorce after only two years. Her final marriage would be to a Pan Am Airways pilot named James N. Gentry.

Although I did promise to continue researching what to be was a quite intriguing connection, i.e., Babcock's connection to the Mellon and Scaife families in Pittsburgh, I neglected to post my followup research. Instead, curiosity about land developers in Florida, among many other subjects,  intervened. Refer back to my previous post to refresh your memory, as the saga continues here.

Vose Babcock, Sr. dies.
Juan Trippe's Social Circle Within a Circle

Prior to his becoming Pittsburgh's mayor, Vose Babcock, Sr. had been a trustee of the University of Pittsburgh with Andrew Carnegie himself a decade or so after  Carnegie sold his steel company to J.P. Morgan and became America's richest philanthropist. Vose Jr., something of a black sheep, did not follow the lead of other wealthy Pittsburgh citizens who married within their class. 
David K.E. Bruce & A. Mellon
Scions from that Pittsburgh group include Richard Beatty Mellon's daughter Sarah Cordelia, for example, who married Alan Magee Scaife, nephew of William L. Scaife, also a fellow trustee with Vose Babcock, Sr.; Sarah's first cousin, Andrew Mellon's daughter Ailsa, married David K.E. Bruce, who himself had a founding role in Pan American Airways, as well as a secretive career in intelligence. Passing the Maryland Bar in 1921, Bruce then "dabbled at the law and began preparing for a career in the State Department at its foreign service school."*  It would be in David Bruce's footsteps a young George H. W. Bush would tread in the years leading up to Bush's rise in power and status as President Richard Nixon was being drummed out of office in 1974, a path which ended in late 1977 upon Bruce's death.

Alan Magee Scaife, graduating in the 1920 class at Yale, had been roommates with Juan T. Trippe there. No doubt that relationship helped Trippe become the founder of Pan American Airways at the age of only 27. David Bruce, Scaife's cousin by marriage, who grew up in Baltimore amongst heirs of Alexander Brown's fortune, became a partner in an investment bank set up in 1926--W.A. Harriman & Co.--which would soon merge with Alex Brown's New York sons' descendants in Brown Brothers, founded in 1825. 

The Brown descendants included the wife of another close Yale friend, Robert A. Lovett, who in 1919 had married Adele Quartley Brown, daughter of senior partner James Brown. In 1926 Lovett became a Brown Brothers partner. That was the same year Trippe broke up with PanAm's former investors, which included Averell Harriman, after the military brass who ran Colonial Air Transport accused Trippe of neglecting the airline's core business--contract mail routes--while trying to build a passenger transport business.** 

Juan Trippe of Greenwich
At that time the core mail routes were Boston to New York and New York to Chicago, but Trippe was more interested in a route to America's Pacific coast, California, and from the Florida keys to Cuba, with a more distant eye to the "Orient."

The man who blew the whistle, as it were, on Juan Trippe's "loose management" was none other than Andrew Mellon's son-in-law David Bruce, whose fellow partners at W.A. Harriman & Co. were Roland "Bunny" Harriman, Knight Woolley, and Prescott Bush--all of whom had been classmates at Yale who had been tapped for Skull and Bones just as America entered WWI in 1917. Another partner, the one with the most banking experience, however, was our old friend George Herbert (Bert) Walker, who became Prescott Bush's father-in-law in 1921.

Founding of W. A. Harriman & Co in 1920

In May of that year Robert Scott Lovett (father of Robert A. Lovett, also a Bonesman from Yale's class of 1918) volunteered to work full-time with the War Council, headed by Henry Pomeroy Davison of Locust Valley, Long Island, New York. Bobby Lovett had moved from Texas to New York at a young age when his father began running E.H. Harriman's Union Pacific Railroad, and grew up alongside the Harriman boys and attended Yale with Davison's son, Frederick Trubee Davison, and Knight Woolley's brother John, in the 1918 class. Prescott Bush and Bunny Harriman were one year ahead of Lovett, who, with Knight Woolley and Neal Mallon, were in Yale's Class of 1917. Averell graduated in the 1913 class. All were in Skull and Bones.

Unnamed industrial finance company being set up by G.H. Walker.
In January 1920 St. Louis investment banker George H. Walker announced he would set up a new "industrial finance company," with many wealthy businessmen, including:
  • J. Ogden Armour, the meat packer in Chicago, was involved, as were 
  • Averell Harriman, 
  • Percy Rockefeller, 
  • Sam F. Pryor, and 
  • W. C. Potter, among many others. 
On April 10, 1920 the new company,  incorporated as Morton & Co., Inc., announced it would operate a general investment banking business, issuing and underwriting securities, and engaging in all the normal activities of such banks. Its temporary offices were moved on May 15 to 25 Broad Street. Directors and officers were named in the Announcement below:

G. H. Walker, president of Morton & Co.--WSJ 4/10/1920

How did these Yale men meet the St. Louis banker, one might well wonder.

Percy A. Rockefeller had been in the Yale (and Skull and Bones) 1900 class with Frederick Baldwin Adams, Frederic Winthrop Allen from Massachusetts and James Cowan Greenway. In fact, when F.W. Allen's wedding was held in St. Louis in 1911 his Bones classmates attended. Allen's bride was Irene Catlin, daughter of Daniel Catlin, founder of a tobacco company in St. Louis bought out by American Tobacco Company in 1898. Catlin had used the money from the sale to invest in St. Louis real estate and built the Security Building at 319 N. 4th Street, "St. Louis' most costly tall office building." At the corner of Locust and North Fourth, it sat opposite the Federal Reserve Bank in downtown St. Louis. For years the Catlins had lived on Vandeventer Place near the family of David Davis Walker, father of George Herbert Walker. Mrs. Catlin's mother, Mrs. Henry Kayser lived at #59 until her death in 1915.

Fred Winthrop Allen had moved to St. Louis shortly after his Yale graduation in 1900 to work for Simmons Hardware, the same company which hired Prescott Bush after he too graduated from Yale in 1917. Allen had quickly taken his place among St. Louis society folk, making friends with Daniel Catlin, Jr. and his brother Theron, whose sister Allen later married.***

Averell, Bunny's big brother and the senior partner of the investment bank set up with his inheritance from the railroad tycoon, E.H. Harriman, ignored the warnings given him by both David Bruce and Colonial Air Transport (CAT) executive Sherman Fairchild. There are varying accounts of what exactly happened in 1927 (Gabrielle Durepos, Albert J. Mills, Anti-History: Theorizing the Past..., pp. 195-200).; see also pages 4-5 of a paper delivered by the authors which sets out the founding and merger history of Pan Am). One account, written by "leftist" writer, Matthew Josephson, relates that after being fired by the board of CAT, Trippe formed Aviation Corporation of the Americas (ACoAs) with John Hambleton and Cornelius Vanderbilt "Sonny" Whitney, son of Harry Payne Whitney and grandson of William Collins Whitney. Hambleton, son of a Baltimore banker and married to the daughter of the president of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, died in a plane crash in the summer of 1929, to be heard from no more. Sonny Whitney, however, turned out to be Juan Trippe's most omnipresent backer, as we will explore in subsequent posts here.

We receive a totally different perspective of Juan Trippe's role in this airline from Rudy Abramson's
biography of Averell Harriman, Spanning the Century. Abramson states that Averell, who graduated from Yale four years earlier than his brother and other Skull and Bones partners at W.A. Harriman & Co., had begun aviation investments with his brother-in-law, Charles Lawrance, who sold military planes to the French during WWI and to the U.S. Army in 1920. Charles soon became president of the Wright Company, which made the plane Lucky Lindbergh flew to Paris. 

By the time the forerunner to Pan Am was founded, Averell (then 36) was already making his third aviation investment. He teamed up with Bobby Lehman to help Trippe launch Aviation Corporation of America (AVCO), also bringing in Sonny's cousin John Hay "Jock" Whitney, their uncle William H. Vanderbilt, and William G. Rockefeller, Juan's close neighbor in Greenwich, Connecticut. In fact, the part of Greenwich where Trippe, Prescott Bush, Sr. and Jr. lived had been developed out of the vast Rockefeller holdings in that city.
William Rockefeller first acquired land in Greenwich in the 1870's.

Juan Trippe in 1928 married Elizabeth "Betty" Stettinius, daughter of Edward R. Stettinius, Sr. whom Ron Chernow described as the man bearing "the unlovely tag of father of the military industrial complex." [See Chernow, The House of Morgan (page 189)]. President of the Diamond Match Company during 1909-15, Stettinius lived with his family in a mansion called Dongan Hall at Staten Island. Recruited by Thomas Lamont in 1915 to work for J. P. Morgan & Co., he became chief buyer of war supplies for the Allies before the U.S. declared war. In this role he reorganized American manufacturing companies into munitions makers, using Morgan's interest in Guaranty Trust to finance its acquisition of factories by Midvale Steel and Ordnance for that purpose. Midvale then set up Remington Arms Co. in Delaware "primarily to manufacture rifles for the Allies in Europe." Mostly Wall-Street bankers bought up the stock in Remington, Cambria Steel and also Wilmington Steel.

Two men who were most helpful to Stettinius in converting America into a war machine were Samuel F. Pryor and Percy A. Rockefeller. Pryor, who was a director of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, helped negotiate the lease to house the new factory for Remington Arms, of which he would serve as a vice-president. The contracts to sell the rifles were already in place by 1915, and the United States had already racked up a huge trade surplus. Pryor would become a vice president of Union Metallic Cartridge Co. and later serve as a director of Wright-Martin Aircraft with Frederic Wintrop Allen and Frederick Baldwin Adams, both of whom were shareholders in W.A. Harriman & Co. of which George H. "Bert" Walker was president in 1920, as were Percy and Pryor. Percy A. Rockefeller was a major investor in Midvale with his sister's husband, Marcellus Hartley Dodge, and with Frank A. Vanderlip, while Andrew Mellon was a Midvale director. (See Gerald G. Eggert, Steelmasters and Labor Reform, 1886-1923, page 96).

A couple of years later as Assistant Secretary of War in Woodrow Wilson's administration in 1918 Stettinius oversaw procurement and production of supplies for the U.S. Army, spending many months in Europe after WWI on the Advisory Liquidating Board settling munitions contracts and those for "aeronautical material" no longer needed by the U.S. Government. His job was then to terminate contracts established during the the war on terms favorable to the government. Thus, Juan Trippe's father-in-law would have been well qualified to have mentored Richard Nixon, who terminated Navy contracts at the Philadelphia Bureau of Aeronautics office beginning in January 1945. Nixon's entire Naval career is much more intriguing than has heretofore been explored.

Before that assignment Nixon had been an administrative officer at the Alameda Naval Air Station, where Pan American World Airways' Pacific terminal was located. One who collects coincidences might be fascinated to learn that Alameda Naval Air Base was also the point of departure in 1944 for
the last flight (photo below) of James Norman Gentry, the man Bebe Rebozo's ex-wife (Clare Gunn) married after she divorced Bebe. But, again, we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Captain James Norman Gentry, who married Clare Gunn in 1939, crashed in 1944.

When W. A. Harriman & Co. merged into the newly created Brown Brothers, Harriman investment bank in 1931, "six of the twelve partners in the new company had been at Yale with the younger Harriman brother [Bunny]" — adding Robert A. Lovett and Ellery James to the other four Yalies, all of whom had been tapped by Skull and Bones during the time Percy Rockefeller was investing in aircraft with fellow Bonesman F. B. Adams.

A secretive high-level "spook" within State Department and OSS circles, Bruce in his diaries from WWII, published in 1991 as "OSS Against the Reich recounted his experiences as "a top deputy of William J. 'Wild Bill' Donovan, founder of the Office of Strategic Services," forerunner of Central Intelligence Agency. Bruce had also served as Averell Harriman's assistant in the Department of Commerce.

Like Carnegie, Andrew Mellon and his numerous corporate interests before the 1929 crash had been an integral part of the Morgan banking network of industries then centered around steel, mass transit and mass electrical utility systems and the local street railways, which were recently consolidated into one holding company by Democrat, William Collins Whitney. (See Taking the Golden Eggs, Part I and Part II.) W.C. Whitney had very strong ties to Yale, but wanted to send his two sons to Harvard because of a rift between him and his wife's brother, Oliver Hazard Payne, also a Yalie, but a Republican, heavily invested in Standard Oil, whose owners were incensed at what had transpired under the Democrat President Grover Cleveland and the Republican trust-buster Theodore Roosevelt to their oil monopoly. 

The Rockefellers, Stillmans, and associates in Standard Oil and National City Bank were determined to wrest control of the government and the direction of investment from Whitney's benefactors, and they planned to do it through the power structure at Yale University, in particular through the Skull and Bones secret society. Andrew Mellon had known Texan Jesse Jones since at least 1905, when Jones was a young man managing his uncle's lumber estate. Not long after meeting Mellon, who owned the Lucas oil gusher at Spindletop as part of Gulf Oil, Jones went into the construction business for himself and convinced Mellon to build a headquarters for Gulf Oil in Houston in 1908. Jesse Jones built two Gulf buildings, and a third was constructed by Cadillac Fairview (Bronfman) many years later as part of Texas Eastern Transmission Co.'s Houston Center complex.

Since 1937 Gulf Oil had been in Kuwait as a partner with BP, from whom they “took most of their political advice,” and who “gave them patronizing lectures on how to deal with the Arabs.” [Anthony Sampson, The Seven Sisters, p. 230.] According to Sampson, Gulf “moved into coal and nuclear energy; they bought an insurance company (CNA), an industrial center in Florida, and a whole new town outside Washington called Reston.”

What we need to understand at this juncture is that Miami in 1930 was the center of what was to become America's first international airline corporation and that Yale was strutting to lead the way through Juan Trippe. We learn much of this history from author Rosalie Schwartz in her book Flying Down to Rio: Hollywood, Tourists, and Yankee Clippers.

With the depression, a new type of infrastructure pushed out the old to create an economy based upon the concept of individually automobiles as and the petroleum products used as fuel, thus supplanting the electric-powered street railways. Mellon was in the process of abandoning Morgan interests in favor of Rockefeller-Stillman interests, as his activities during the 1920's, leading up to oil ventures in Venezuela and Colombia in 1930, affirm.

In 2001 a map of the real estate holdings in these counties appeared in the Sarasota Herald, which shows that Babcock Lumber's hardwoods grew in swampy lands later sold to the state for a wilderness preserve. The Babcock heirs declared that nobody had made any money off the cattle and farming operations of the ranch, at least not since Babcock, Sr. turned the lands over to Junior's younger brother Fred Courtney Babcock, a white sheep graduate of Dartmouth, who married and returned to Pittsbugh to head the lumber company even before Vose Senior died in 1948. Fred lived until 1997, dying in Punta Gorda, Charlotte County, Florida.

Smathers firm deprived of these fees!
Fred's heirs in 2001 breathed not a whisper here of the name of black sheep, Vose Jr. What we learn of Clare's husband number two is found in 1957 Florida Senate hearings on the impeachment of Judge George Edward Holt, whom critics alleged received a suspicious loan from an attorney named Joseph Gersten. George Smathers' partner, Jack Thompson, it seems, had been appointed in 1955 to be guardian ad litem for Vose Babcock, Jr. (incapacitated by an unknown blood malady). The guardian apparently would have had some measure of access to Babcock's $8 million trust fund as well as oversight of $4 million in Florida real estate and his cattle spread over several counties (see p. 419 of excerpt at left), all valued in 1950s dollars. According to testimony in the hearing, the Judge revoked the first appointment to the Smathers firm, replacing Thompson with Gersten.  

When Vose Jr. died  in 1956, his obituary in the Princeton Alumni Weekly state he had been a director of the Florida State Cattlemen's Association and a member of the Riviera Country Club at Coral Gables. A 1955 photograph of him appeared alongside Florida's anti-Klan Governor Fuller Warren showing off his purebred Santa Gertrudis bloodline bull acquired from the Texas King Ranch, whose website states:
In 1940, Dick Kleberg, Jr., joined his father, Mr. Dick, and his uncle, Mr. Bob, in managing King Ranch. Together, they initiated a series of innovations that kept King Ranch successful and at the leading edge of the ranching industry. ...After World War II, the ranch’s agricultural business was extended, in part to expand the national and global presence of the Santa Gertrudis breed. Acquisitions came through the purchase of property in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and West Texas, and through joint ventures and partnerships in Florida.
Clare divorced Babcock in 1939.
Clare Gunn's 1937 marriage to Vose Jr. was over in very short order, as stated in a prior post. She divorced him early in 1939 in Miami in order to marry James N. Gentry, a 1934 mechanical engineering graduate from Georgia Tech, who had joined the Naval Reserve and trained as a pilot in Pensacola, Florida, before moving to Miami to fly for Pan American. By the spring of 1940 they were living in Fort Myers, and he tended his cattle on the Crescent B Ranch, which covered a large part of Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Collier Counties' swampy range. Vose Babcock and his brother Fred were in Fort Myers to look after the 156,000-acre Crescent B. Ranch their father had begun buying from timber speculators in 1914. The ranch was then still part of Manatee County and would not be divided into Charlotte and Lee Counties until seven years later. What remains of that real estate investment is now the Babcock Ranch community east of Punta Gorda.

Vose Babcock remarried again so quickly, we might wonder whether  Clare caught him fooling around with the young widow, Georgie Areca Stone Moore, whom he married in short order. Born in Punta Gorda around 1915, Areca was a 1933 graduate of Fort Myers High School and lived with the family of her deceased husband, Charlie Swoope Moore, Jr. who died December 8, 1937. Charlie's father fancied himself as something of a defender of national security, serving on the Fort Myers Defense Council during WWII. 

After the marriage, to Areca, Vose Babcock soon moved down to the Miami area, where the 1947 directory finds him in Coral Gables in a large Spanish colonial ranch home just east of the golf course named for the historic Biltmore Hotel a few feet from the Babcocks' front door. Intriguingly, thirteen months after Vose died, Areca married Guy B. Bailey, who became one of the founders of the Country Club of Miami, which announced its golf pro would be Arnold Palmer, then the hottest golfer on the PGA circuit. After the club opened, however, it turned out Arnie was too hot to spend much time at all in Miami, and he was replaced when his contract expired.

Clare too quickly remarried. The U.S. Census recorded in April 1940 reveals Clare was already remarried to James Norman Gentry and living at 24-29 51st Avenue in Douglaston, Little Neck, New York, ten miles east of La Guardia Airport, the New York terminal for Gentry's employer, Pan American Airlines. To get to work and back, Gentry would have had to pass the World's Fair in Flushing (current site of Flushing Meadows tennis center) which did not close until late October 1940. Used as a model for Walt Disney's Epcot Center in Florida, the 1939 World’s Fair "sprawled over 1,216 acres of former marshland adjacent to Flushing Bay."

1942 Miami Directory
Incidentally, Bebe Rebozo lived with his mother and sister in this same neighborhood in 1942 before he and Clare married for a second time and were listed in the 1947 Miami Directory at 7200 School House Road (now known as SW 52nd Avenue)!

During the 1920's Florida was the hottest market for real estate, as we have explored in many posts that appear in this blog (see label 'Florida Land Boom'). It was also struggling to build airports during those years and attracted the interest of two important menGlenn H. Curtiss and Juan T. Trippe.
Here we return to review what happened in Florida after WWI, trying to understand how the new transportation technologies led to that state becoming central to the growth of an intelligence empire.

Florida and Airplanes--the 1920's

Wall Street invaded Miami in the 1920's, but a hurricane in 1926 and another in 1929 brought recession, just as the stock market crash ushered in the Great Depression. Prior to the crash investors were zeroing in on the latest technology—airplanes.

The three biggest American names in the field at that time—Wright, Curtiss and Martin—would soon be swallowed up into one conglomerate. The Great War (WWI) had razed the playing field, forcing the winner to become a partner with the federal government, which dangled the most lucrative contract, air mail, like a carrot before corporate eyes.

One of the foremost pioneers of the "aeroplane," Wilbur Wright, died in 1912, and his brother Orville, after winning a patent-infringement lawsuit against Glenn H. Curtiss in 1914, sold out to a New York investment syndicate, headed by William Boyce Thompson, formerly a copper miner in Montana, was involved. For a mere $250,000, one-quarter of what the Wright company had initially raised in 1909, Thompson's group of investors included Charles H. Sabin of the Morgan-affiliated Guaranty Trust.

Wright plane in 1910
The new syndicate which acquired Wright's stock merged it with that of Glenn L. Martin, forming in 1917 a new corporation called Wright-Martin Aircraft Corporation, which began manufacturing aircraft in New Brunswick, N.J. at the Simplex automobile factory which Wright had also acquired. Preferred and common shares of Wright-Martin, which were authorized to raise a total of $10 million, were oversubscribed by $5.2 million.

Percy, mgr for Wear team
Wright-Martin quickly evolved into Wright Aeronautical Corporation, filed in Albany, New York, in October 1919 by Frederick Baldwin Adams and others, shortly before Adams joined with the other shareholders involved with Averell Harriman and G. H. "Bert" Walker in W. A. Harriman & Co. Walker's brother-in-law, Jim Wear, played football at Yale while Percy Rockefeller was the football manager.

Adams had also been tapped for Skull and Bones the same year as Percy. Wright Aeronautical operated for ten years, until June 1929 when both it and rival Glenn Curtiss were acquired by a $70 million holding company called the Curtiss-Wright Corporation.

The Curtiss-Wright Corporation would eventually become a subsidiary of a huge conglomerate formed in 1915, the American International Corporation, which Antony Sutton referred to as "a Morgan-controlled firm," with William Boyce Thompson high up in its management. Eustace Mullins has also written about AIC, stating that it was
"funded by J.P. Morgan, the Rockefellers, and the National City Bank. Chairman of the Board was Frank Vanderlip, former president of National City, and member of the Jekyll Island group which wrote the Federal Reserve Act in 1910." 
Mullins also wrote that the directors included George Herbert Walker along with an assortment of other well known men. Although many of those he mentioned were original directors of AIC, Walker was not, as evidenced by the absence of his name in the article published in Washington Post of November 24, 1915.

G.H. Walker, USGA
By 1929, however, when the corporation advertised to sell $25,000,000 in gold debentures, Walker, then president of  W.A. Harriman & Co., was listed as a director of AIC. That year also saw both Averell Harriman and G. H. Walker sitting as directors of The Aviation Company (AVCO), a connection begun possibly in 1928 when AIC's Matthew Brush was on the board of Petroleum Bond and Share, a Delaware corporation, with Averell and Walker.

Until passage of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913 the United States had had no official central bank, but historians have stated that J. P. Morgan had acted as an unofficial central bank. When Morgan died in 1913, four years after W. A. Harriman's father, the railroad tycoon, had passed from the scene, many investment bankers aspired to replace the role Morgan had played. George Herbert Walker was one of those men who aspired to such heights, but he was one who hid in the shadows. My project to shed light on him and his extended family extends to five segments, which can read at QJ. Something triggered his ambition to broaden his banking interests in 1916, the year he was named president of the New Orleans, Texas & Mexico Railway Company, whose chairman was Houston attorney Frank Andrews.

G.H. Walker named President of new railway company, 1916.
Central banks provide the nation with one financial voice to speak for it in commercial matters abroad. Morgan had been that voice for years. With his death in 1913, Woodrow Wilson stood ready to appoint the first director to head the new central bank, and the following year chose W. Boyce Thompson, an ingenue Republican millionaire who favored Theodore Roosevelt's progressivism over Taft's policies. It could only have been a political ploy designed by Colonel House of Texas, who was pulling Wilson's strings from behind the curtain in an obvious  attempt to garner favor with the Roosevelt progressives who had helped the Democrats defeat Taft.

The New York branch of the Federal Reserve from which Thompson came was then as now comprised of the biggest, wealthiest banks on Wall Street. In 1914 the member banks were chomping at the bit, with WWI looming in Europe, to cash in on financing the war. American International Corporation, an entity set up by this Wall Street branch of the new central banking establishment, wanted to leverage millions of dollars in federal grants, together with stocks and bonds issued by its member Wall Street banks, to buy American companies able to produce weapons, ammunition, and other equipment, such as airplanes--all then in great demand by the warring nations.

Glenn H. Curtiss had
Glenn Curtiss
developed an airplane that could land on water for the Navy, but he soon found himself in a legal battle with the Wright Brothers, who held a patent on their wing-warping system. While the Wrights won in court, Curtiss paid no penalty, and a Wall Street syndicate formed the Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company, with Curtiss as president. ... When the company underwent major financial reorganization in 1920, Curtiss moved to southern Florida, where he became a real estate developer during the 1920s.
As WWI approached, eleven manufacturers of airplanes and parts set up Manufacturers' Aircraft Association as a clearing house to avoid litigation which would delay the manufacture of aircraft needed to sell to Europeans engaged in the war. They put all patents used by manufacturerd into a pool and members of that pool were able to use all these developments in their aircraft without having to pay exorbitant royalties.


*David E. Koskoff's The Mellons.
**(Anthony J. Mayo, Nitin Nohria, Mark Rennella, Entrepreneurs, Managers, and Leaders... published in 2009, (p. 47). The footnotes at the end of chapter 2 of their book are quite useful for those engaged in further research.)
*** Theron, who was 6 foot 4, was elected as a Republican to the Missouri Legislature in 1906, and was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1910. He had barely taken his seat when the Democrat Patrick F. Gill, who had contested the election, Fred's bride, Irene Catlin Allen, served with a subpoena on the day of her wedding. Gill ultimately prevailed in the House Elections Committee by proving that Fred's father-in-law, millionaire Daniel Catlin, had spent $10,000 getting his son elected and that he spent more than twice the allowed amount of $660 on his campaign. 


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).