Hidden Treasures - Why Some Succeed While Others Fail
by Harry A. Lewis
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Transcriber's note:

A large number of printer's typographical errors have been corrected. In some cases, questionable spellings, tense and words (e.g.: vindicative) have been retained.



Why Some Succeed While Others Fail.



Finely Illustrated.

"Not Failure, but low aim is crime."

Sold by Subscription Only. Cleveland, Ohio: Moses, Lewis & Co. 1888. Copyright, 1887. by Wright, Moses & Lewis. All rights reserved.


Some succeed while others fail. This is a recognized fact; yet history tells us that seven-tenths of our most successful men began life poor. As our title indicates, we shall endeavor to show "why some succeed while others fail." Knowing that everybody desires success, and recognizing the old adage, "Example is the best of teachers," we have selected representative characters from the multitude of successful men who have climbed the ladder of success, beginning at the bottom round. These we have followed from childhood to manhood, dwelling at length on the traits of character that have made them so rich and successful, believing that a careful study will convince all that the proverbial "luck" had little to do with it. On the contrary, one is taught those lessons of self-helpfulness and self-reliance which are so essential to success in life's struggles. It is fearful to think how many of our young people are drifting without an aim in life, and do not comprehend that they owe mankind their best efforts. We are all familiar with the parable of the slothful servant who buried his talent—all may profit by his example. To those who would succeed, we respectfully present this volume.

Every young man is now a sower of seed on the field of life. The bright days of youth are the seed-time. Every thought of your intellect, every emotion of your heart, every word of your tongue, every principle you adopt, every act you perform, is a seed, whose good or evil fruit will prove bliss or bane of your after life.—WISE.


Dear reader, it is a grave undertaking to write a book, especially is it so in writing a treatise on success and failure, as we have attempted to do in the work we hereby present you. It is a solemn thing to give advice. Experience teaches that no one thing will please everybody; that men's censures are as various as their palates; that some are as deeply in love with vice as others are with virtue. Shall I then make myself the subject of every opinion, wise or weak? Yes, I would rather hazard the censure of some than hinder the good of others.

There need neither reasons to be given nor apologies to be made where the benefit of our fellow-men is our aim. Henry Clay Trumbull says: "At no time in the world's history, probably, has there been so general an interest in biography as that which has been shown of late. Just here lies a weighty obligation upon these who write, and those who read, of the lives of men who have done something in the world. It is not enough for us to know WHAT they have done; it belongs to us to discover the WHY of their works and ways, and to gain some personal benefit from the analysis of their successes and failures. Why was this man great? What general intentions—what special traits led him to success? What ideal stood before him, and by what means did he seek to attain it? Or, on the other hand, what unworthy purpose, what lack of conscience and religious sense, what unsettled method and feeble endeavor stood in the way of the 'man of genius' and his possible achievements?" In this volume one sees the barefoot boy rise to the eminent statesman, the great millionaire, the honored inventor. How was this accomplished? We believe that a careful study of the different characters, by the light of the author's opinion of the characteristics essential to success, as shown in Department Fifth, will show why they succeeded.

Let the reader follow each character separately, from childhood to manhood, noting carefully the different changes in the career of each and the motives which actuated and brought them about. If this book shall serve to awaken dormant energies in ONE PERSON who might otherwise have failed, we shall feel abundantly repaid. Doubtless, there are others who are better qualified to write a treatise on such a subject; nevertheless, we have done our best, and this done, we have attained success.






A man, to succeed, must possess the necessary equanimity of temperament to conceive an idea, the capacity to form it into some tangible shape, the ingenuity to put it into practical operation, the ability to favorably impress others with its merits, and the POWER of WILL that is absolutely necessary to force it to success.


Labor rids us of three evils.—Tediousness, Vice and Poverty.


"Never start upon an undertaking until you are sure it is practicable and ought to be done, and then let nothing stand long in the way of accomplishing that undertaking. It is better to deserve success than to have it; few deserve it who do not attain it."

"There is no failure in this country for those whose personal habits are good, and who follow some honest calling industriously, unselfishly, and purely. If one desires to succeed, he must pay the price—WORK!"

In order to succeed, a man must have a purpose fixed, then let his motto be VICTORY OR DEATH.


"Be liberal but cautious; enterprising but careful."

"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."

Fail!—Fail? In the lexicon of youth, which Fate reserves for a bright manhood, there is no such word As—fail!—"RICHELIEU."

Benjamin Franklin has truly said: The road to wealth is as plain as the road to mill.


Here is a great financier. A man of unusual ability; but who is no exception to the rule, born poor. His success came by hard work and a thorough mastery of his business. It is surprising how many Wall Street operators began life on the farm. In the case of Daniel Drew, at the age of only fifteen, matters were made worse by the death of his father.

At eighteen, he concluded to go to New York; but, after a discouraging time of it, his money giving out, he was obliged to return to his home. However, his trip did not prove a total failure, as subsequent events show. While in the metropolis he heard that fat cattle could be sold there at a profit over what he knew they could be bought for, at his country home. He therefore resolved to go into the cattle business. True, he had no money, he was a poor country lad, but this made little difference with Drew's determination. As he had no money with which to buy a drove for himself, he did the next best thing; this was to induce the neighboring farmers to allow him to drive their cattle to market on a commission plan. By this one act the reader can understand the difference between Daniel Drew and the neighboring farm boys, many of whom were better situated, doubtless, than was he.

Another characteristic he developed was economy; his money was saved and with these small savings he added cattle to his drove which were his own, hence, increased his profits; first one at a time, then two, when at last he abandoned the commission business, becoming a drover on his own account. Later, he took a partner and the firm of Drew & Co. became the cattle kings of America. This was the first firm that ever drove cattle from the West, and Drew, ever watchful for opportunities to add to his already increasing income, bought a tavern which became, as Drew knew it would under good management, the centre of the cattle business in the city on market days.

As time passed, as a matter of course, following such a line of procedure, he became a very rich man, and his disposition being of an enterprising nature, he began to cast about him for new investments, seeking new fields to conquer. The explosion of a boat on the Hudson, discommoding for a time the existing line, offered to Drew the favorable opportunity for which he was looking, and as was characteristic he at once improved his chance. He immediately placed on the river the "Water Witch"; the old line resumed business; the fares were reduced until the profits of both companies were eaten up. The opposition tried to intimidate, they tried to buy out, and then tried to negotiate some other deals, but all in vain. On the contrary Drew put on the "Westchester," and instead of stopping at Peekskill, he extended to Albany. He next bought the "Bright Emerald," and started an evening line. This was a new feature in those days and as it enabled the business men to travel without loss of time, it became eminently popular.

Drew was a man with a fertile mind; he made a study of whatever he undertook; he was a hard man to beat. He bought the "Rochester," and next bought out the old line. For a long time he had things pretty much his own way; then came a new opposition. This time, through negotiations, he won the opposition over and established the celebrated "People's Line," naming their first boat after his new partner, "St. John." Mr. Drew, in connection with others, formed the "Stonington Line" between New York and Boston, and still later he opened the "Champlain Transportation Company" from White Hall, New York, to Rouses Point, Vermont. He next placed his shoulder under Erie, endorsing its paper to the amount of ten millions. Later still he was elected President of this company, and as Erie and Central are natural enemies, Vanderbilt and Drew henceforth became hostile toward each other. Mr. Drew wanted to extend Erie west. To do this he must get a special act of the Legislature. Of course, he had Vanderbilt and Central, with all their patronage, with which to contend, and a bitter fight it proved to be; but in those days Daniel Drew seemed invincible in court, and the bill passed, Erie re-issuing stock and extending its lines.

He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and to him is that religious body indebted for that grand institution, "Drew Theological Seminary." Many men would have made a worse use of vast wealth than did Daniel Drew. He was a man who was quiet; he kept his "points," and was a pleasing conversationalist. In 1879 he died, leaving two children.


This wonderful man was born at Verona, Oneida County, New York, over sixty years ago. In early life, he determined to earn all that he could, and spend less than he earned. When he arrived at the age of fifteen, he removed to Troy, and entered the grocery store of one of his brothers. Until eighteen years of age he remained here as a clerk when he had saved money enough to buy an interest in another store of which another brother was proprietor. Here he remained several years in successful trade, when the partnership was dissolved. He next turned his attention to the wholesale trade, dealing in grain, flour, pork, beef, etc., the most of these ventures proving successful.

His towns' people, recognizing his business ability elected him alderman for seven years, and later, treasurer of Rensselaer county. His fidelity in these trusts won for him a seat in Congress, and he was re-elected by an increased majority, serving both terms with great credit to himself and party.

In 1860, he had succeeded so well that he could show $200,000 on the credit side of his bank account. Seeking new fields to conquer, he naturally gravitated to the money centre, New York. Since that time Russell Sage has been as favorably known in Wall street as any broker in the country. He occupies an office in the same building with Gould, and scores of the leading spirits, with whom he mingles daily. He attends strictly to business, and never even smokes. Mr. Sage deals in everything which he deems "an investment,"—banks, railroad stock, real estate, all receive his attention. He is a very cautious operator, and cannot, by any possible means, be induced into a "blind pool." He has, however, been very successful in the "street," and it is said has built over three thousand miles of railroad. Russell Sage might easily be mistaken for a church deacon, instead of the keen operator that he is. However, no one in the "street" will give away "points" to his friends sooner than he. The Troy Times once mentioned several people who said that Mr. Sage had pointed out to them investments, of which they could never have known but for him, each investment having yielded them thousands of dollars. He often gives friends the benefit of his splendid opportunities, which makes him a general favorite among all brokers. Mr. Sage enjoys the confidence and friendship of some of the leading operators, among whom are Jay Gould.

He is a man of marked ability, and honesty. He never fails to meet any of his obligations, nor will he allow others to neglect theirs. Of course, he is careful what he agrees to do, but always does just as he agrees, regardless of cost. For this reason he is known in Wall street as "Old Integrity." Russell Sage is a shrewd, close calculator, and is worth many millions, the result of improving his opportunities. He is a consistent member of the Evangelical Church, and is very charitable. Long may such men live, for we have many worse.


Vanderbilt, a synonym for wealth and luxury. Who indeed has not wished that he could have at least a small part of the vast wealth possessed by the Vanderbilts? Yet, when Cornelius Vanderbilt was a boy, he enjoyed far less privileges to make money than the majority who now look on and wish; but Cornelius Vanderbilt differed from other boys of his age. One difference was his strong determination.

It was then, much as it is now, boys liked to spend their money and have a good time.

It was a common saying in the neighborhood where he lived, 'that when Corneel. Vanderbilt concludes to do anything it will certainly be done.' A ship stranded off the shore; young Cornelius' father took the contract to transfer the cargo to New York city. This was a job requiring many teams and a force of men to carry the produce to a different part of the island where they were to be taken by water to New York. Although but twelve years old, young Vanderbilt was given control of this part of the work. His father, by accident, neglected to furnish him the money with which to pay his ferriage. Here he was, a lad twelve years old, with no money, in charge of a lot of horses which must be ferried over at a cost of over five dollars. He hesitated but a moment; walking boldly up to the hotel proprietor he said: "Sir, I am here without money, by accident; if you will kindly advance me the money to pay the ferriage, I will leave a horse as your security." The proprietor was a perfect stranger to Vanderbilt, but he was struck with such enterprise. The money was advanced, and the horse redeemed within forty-eight hours.

Vanderbilt wanted a small boat. On the tenth day of May, 1810, he went to his mother and asked for the money with which to buy it. There was a very rough piece of land on the parental farm which had never been plowed. His mother told him that if he would plow, drag and plant that field to corn within seventeen days, she would buy the boat for him. It was a hard job, doubtless, the mother considered it an impossible one. Vanderbilt, however, seemed never to recognize such a word, as can't. He set about the work at once, and hard as it seemed to be, the task was accomplished, the boat was bought, and Vanderbilt was a happy boy. He had earned it. Now, as Vanderbilt did not want this boat for pleasure, he at once began business carrying produce from Staten Island to New York city. When the wind was unfavorable he used oars or a pole to aid his sails, thus, his produce was always on time. People said, "Send your stuff by Vanderbilt and you can depend on its being in season." Now Vanderbilt had to give all of his earnings during the day time to his parents, so he worked nights, but his father also required one-half of what he earned nights, thus his opportunities were not as great as one might think. He worked very hard and at the end of three years, it was found that Corneel. Vanderbilt had saved for himself over, or about $3,000 and the best of all, had earned the reputation of being the best boatman on the river. While others were smoking and drinking, 'having fun while they were young, for when would they if not then?' Vanderbilt was either earning more money working over time, or at least saving what he had earned, home asleep recruiting for the next day's labor.

He wished to marry a Miss Johnson, but could not unless his parents would release him from all parental restrictions. He was only nineteen, yet luckily for the young people the lady was a favorite of the father; the desired permission was obtained and henceforth Vanderbilt had the exclusive benefit of his labor. As he had begun, so he continued, and at the age of twenty-three he was worth about $9,000. In 1817 he became captain of the first steam boat that ever run between New York and New Brunswick, New Jersey, at a salary of $1,000 per year. His wife proved to be a helpmeet in the truest sense of the word, she at this time keeping hotel at New Brunswick and making no small amount herself. Seven years passed and Vanderbilt was made superintendent of the company of which he had been an employe. If a man has ability and applies it, his talent will not remain hid 'under a bushel.' His ability and indomitable energy brought the "Gibbons Line" up to paying $40,000 a year. Seeing a chance, for which he was ever on the alert, he leased the ferry between New York and Elizabeth, New Jersey, for fourteen years, put on new boats and it became a very profitable venture. In 1829 he left the "Gibbons Line," and began to operate on the Hudson and between New York and Boston; also on the Delaware river. He would start an opposition line, and either drive off the old line or effect a compromise. In 1849 he obtained from the Nicaraguan Government a charter for a steamship company. He next went to England and raised the extra funds needed. He then went personally and inspected the whole route that was used, and by a system of cables fastened to trees, shortened the same about seven hundred miles over all existing lines. He placed steamers on each ocean and cut the fare from New York to San Francisco one-half. Soon he had destroyed all opposition and then made immense profits. Afterward he sold out for two millions.

Mr. Vanderbilt, like all successful men, made finance a study; he foresaw that there were great profits to be realized in the near future in the undeveloped railway systems in the country. To see a chance was to at once set about planning to improve it. He at once began to withdraw his money from the water and invest in railroads, which were then coming rapidly to the front. The wisdom of Vanderbilt can be seen, for at the beginning of the war, which he had been long expecting, his money was all transferred from the water, and thus his interests were not jeopardised by the war made upon our commerce. He, however, had owned so many vessels, that he had long since been known as Commodore Vanderbilt, in fact few people to-day know him by any other name. He, at the beginning of hostilities, presented the government with a magnificent steamship, the "Vanderbilt," worth $800,000. When he entered the railroad business he was estimated at from thirty-five to forty millions. He had dealt somewhat in New York and New Haven, and now began to buy Harlem when it was in a most helpless and depressed condition. He advanced a large sum to the company when it was in need, and for this, among other things, he was made its President in 1863. By judicious management and influences common in 'The street,' he successfully ran Harlem from thirty to two hundred and eighty-five. Such a man was just what the New York Central railroad desired, and after this great 'bulling' movement he became President of that road. All that was needed now was the Hudson River road and this he bought outright, becoming President of the New York Central and Hudson River Rail Road, extending from New York to Buffalo.

At one time there was a bill to be voted on at Albany; the bill was in the interest of Harlem; Mr. Vanderbilt was sure it would pass, but Daniel Drew, his antagonist, who ever fought Harlem or Central as they were against Erie, caused a counter movement to be made which defeated the bill. Vanderbilt heard of it, and of course was disappointed but made no foolish protests with the treacherous 'friends' at the capitol. In the meantime these people were selling Harlem short for future delivery, expecting that the stock would "take a tumble" when it became known that the bill was defeated. As before said Vanderbilt said nothing, but quietly bought up every scrap of stock there was to be found loose. The fatal day came but Harlem stood firm. The derelict Assemblymen were thunderstruck when they had to buy at a greatly enhanced price, and many of the would-be victors were ruined. In 1873 the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railroad was operated in connection with the Vanderbilt system, making a Palace Car route from New York city to Chicago. From New York to Buffalo a quadruple track, thence a double track.

Among the charities of Mr. Vanderbilt is a gift of three-quarters of a million to the University in Nashville, Tennessee, which bears his name. He died in 1877 worth about eighty millions.


Amos Lawrence was born April 22nd, 1786. He was a weak child, consequently could not attend school, but his mother did not neglect him. When only thirteen years old he became a clerk in a country store. In this store was kept everything in the hardware line, from a plow to a needle; in the textile line, from a horse-blanket to a pocket handkerchief; then you could buy the productions usually found in a vegetable garden,—everything was kept, even to Jamaica rum and drugs for the sick; a good place, indeed, for a bright, active boy to gain new ideas. Each country store, in those days, had its bar, and the clerks were as likely to be called on to mix drinks, as they were to be asked to measure off dry goods, and it was considered as honorable. Not only this, but it was customary for clerks to take a drink themselves, but young Lawrence determined to neither drink nor smoke. True, he liked the taste of liquor, and enjoyed a quiet smoke, but he argued that such pleasures, not only eat up profits already earned, but left the system in a poor condition to earn more. When we consider that he was a mere lad of thirteen, or at best fourteen, when he had decided upon this honorable course, and when we think that at least, for the time being, these luxuries would have cost nothing, we are constrained to say, no wonder he became a rich man.

If our young men would only save the money they yearly smoke up and spend for other needless things, we would have clearer headed and much wealthier men. Our young men all desire to gain wealth and the highest enjoyments possible in this world, but are not willing to pay for them. If they would examine the lives of a great many of our most wealthy and influential men of to-day, they would be surprised to learn how few even smoke.

If you see a man with a high hat, gaudily dressed, smoking and seemingly inviting your attention at some horse trot, where he is making a great display of wealth in the way of bets, you can set it down as pretty certain that that man is a clerk working for $10 or $15 per week, or at best, a mere curb-stone broker who will never rise to anything higher. Real wealth and distinction never invite your attention. One would hardly take that plain old gentleman, walking along the street yonder, for other than a country deacon, yet the check of Russell Sage will be recognized and honored to the amount of millions. Jay Gould never enjoys himself more than when at home.

We spend as a nation now, every year, NINE HUNDRED MILLIONS FOR LIQUOR and THREE HUNDRED and FIFTY MILLIONS for TOBACCO. Total, ONE BILLION, TWO HUNDRED and FIFTY MILLIONS. One billion, two hundred and fifty millions thrown away. More than twice what we use for bread and meat. Then look at that vast waste of unearned wages. Man can't do two things well at one time. In our large cities we have, of late, seen drunken men, with pipes in their mouths, carrying about the streets a banner inscribed, "bread or blood." They propose to make those who have worked intelligently for money, now divide. Would it not look far more sensible if the banner bore the inscription, henceforth, I will boycott the tobacconist, and will vote for no man who is not pledged to suppress the saloon oligarchy?

Amos Lawrence had not the benefit of the philanthropic teaching of our age, but he had a common sense, and a sense of taste and judgment far in advance of his time. These were the principles with which he laid the foundation to that great fortune and enviable reputation which he lived to enjoy, and which his name will ever recall. We have seen that good habits were the foundation of his success. He also improved his opportunities. He became perfectly familiar with the drug department of the store. He determined early in life to become a wealthy and influential man. To determine to do anything is half the battle. "Doubt indulged becomes doubt realized." "To think a thing impossible is to make it so." "Courage is victory, timidity is defeat." Men who understand these maxims are men who invariably succeed. I say invariably—a man may think he understands when he is groping in midnight darkness. A young man who really is destined to succeed, not only INTENDS to become a rich man, or whatever he aspires to be, but lays plans to that end, and is not discouraged if they are blasted. He only recognizes that he is foiled, for the time being, and never doubts his ability to succeed ultimately. There is a difference between a blustering braggadocio and a quiet, unassuming confidence in one's self. One leads to certain victory, the other, to as certain defeat.

Young Lawrence had served his seven long years of apprenticeship, and had no better opportunity presented itself, he would have succeeded, for he had his plans carefully laid to remain in Groton, and if he had, he would have succeeded. But a merchant who had seen him at the store of his employer, no sooner learned of his release than he immediately hired him to come to Boston to enter his store there. "Seest thou a man diligent in his business, he shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before mean men." Thither he went part of the way on foot; the rest of the way with an accommodating neighbor who was driving in that direction. He determined to make for himself here a record for honesty, and so well did he succeed, that the next year he started business for himself, his principal capital being his reputation and acknowledged ability. He developed a system in his business; he paid every bill on the spot; if he could not pay cash, instead of the regular custom of book accounts, he gave his note, thus no complications could arise to embarrass him. He knew when the money was expected on every bill, and made his calculation, and was never known to be taken by surprise. He was reasonably cautious—he never would promise to do what he might possibly be unable to accomplish. He prospered—of course he would. Such business principles, pushed by system as Lawrence pushed them, must bring success to any young man.

Another thing, to any one who may now imagine he, perhaps, entered business on the tide of prosperity, we desire simply to say, on the contrary, from 1808 to 1815 was one of the dullest periods our mercantile history can recount. No, "luck" did not favor him, but "pluck" did. He pushed his mercantile business for years, amassing an immense fortune. Our country was then new, and he had to import most of his merchandise from England, but as he ever made a study of his business, concluded that he would start manufacturing industries here, which would prove not only profitable to himself, but of inestimable value to us as a nation. In accordance with these motives, he was largely instrumental in connection with the Lowells in building up the flourishing cities of Lowell and Lawrence.

He never speculated in stocks. Young men, there is no money in stocks to the average man. Not even in legitimate stock dealing, to say nothing of the numerous watered concerns. We were looking over a paper recently when our attention was attracted to a paragraph which explained that in a transaction which involved 8,000 bushels of wheat, it was found that the odds against the buyer was over 22 per cent. While wheat is not stocks, still a good rule would be never to go into anything unless the chances are at least equal.

Amos Lawrence once said: "Young man, base all your actions upon a sense of right, and in doing so, never reckon the cost." What a glorious principle for any young man—a principle he would find hard to follow in many stock speculations. "Even exchange is no robbery." It is not even exchange to bet and take a man's money; and it makes little difference whether you bet on a horse's gait or the grain he will eat next month. At another time he said: "Good principles, good temper, and good manners will carry a young man through the world much better than he can get along with the absence of either." His sayings are numerous, yet every one is worthy of attention; all of them have a golden thought for old and young.

Mr. Lawrence did not give away in large amounts to institutions of learning, but he kept two rooms in his house wholly for the storage of articles designed to relieve poor people. One contained clothing of every description; the other, food and other necessaries of life. He gave away during his life, over $700,000, and when he died people mourned that he had gone, for there were none left that could take his place. Ah! this is success. He died December 31st, 1852.


This great dry-goods prince was born at Milford, Massachusetts, in 1811, and his education was attained in the public schools of that place. When he became of age he bought out the store in which he was clerk, and in company with another young man began business for himself. But this place was too small for the already expanding vision of both Claflin & Daniels; they accordingly moved to Worcester. The latter place proving yet too small for Claflin, we soon see him located in Cedar street, New York, where he finds himself somewhat satisfied for a time. After a period of successful trade—extending over six years' time, the young men were compelled to find more commodious quarters, which they found at No. 57 Broadway, and two years later they moved once more, locating in the Trinity Building. 1860 came, their business was found to amount to about $12,000,000 annually, and the firm resolved to build a store, for themselves. The result was an immense dry-goods palace. The retail business was entirely abandoned, and Claflin at once sprung to the front as the leading wholesale dry-goods merchant of America.

One day, about five o'clock, Mr. Claflin sat in his private office when a young man, pale and careworn, timidly knocked and was asked in. "Mr. Claflin," said he, "I am in need of help. I have been unable to meet certain payments because certain parties have not done by me as they agreed. I would like to have $10,000. I come to you because I knew that you were a friend of my father, and I thought possibly you might be a friend to me." "Come in and have a glass of wine," said Claflin. "No," said the young man, "I never drink." "Have a cigar?" "No, I never smoke." "Well," replied Claflin, "I am sorry but I don't feel that I can let you have the money." "Very well," replied the young man, "I thought perhaps you might; hence I came. Good day, sir." "Hold on," said Claflin. "You don't drink?" "No." "Nor smoke?" "No sir." "Nor gamble?" "No sir; I am superintendent of a Sunday-school, in —— street." "Well," said Claflin, "you shall have it." This was characteristic of the man. This anecdote well illustrates his character. He was an everyday Christian.

On November 14, 1885, he passed away, leaving one more gap in the commercial world, and in the membership of Plymouth Church, of which he had been a member many years. Probably no one man missed him more at the time of his death than did Henry Ward Beecher, of whom he had long been a devoted admirer.


When one finishes the perusal of the life of William E. Dodge, he feels a thrill of unbounded admiration. A man who would resign his membership in the Union League Club, because it sold wine to its members; who disposed of valuable investments in three different railroads, when a majority of the stockholders voted to run Sunday trains; who, while carrying on a large mercantile business, and managing an extensive stock and real estate business, yet found time to preside at the Chamber of Commerce and serve on numerous committees, and held a directorship in various banking institutions, is surely to be admired.

His religious life was never weakened by his prosperity, and the more money God blessed him with, the more religious societies he became connected with.

William E. Dodge was born in the year 1805, near Hartford, Connecticut. He began at the foot of the ladder, taking down shutters and sweeping out the store in which he was employed. When twenty-one, he went into business in a small way, doing a retail business, which prospered, and at the end of three years Mr. Dodge felt able to support a wife.

In 1834 he was invited to become a partner in the firm with his father-in-law, Mr. Anson Phelps, and a brother-in-law, under the firm-style of Phelps, Dodge and Company. This connection proved a most profitable business venture, and at the end of twenty years Mr. Dodge was accounted a wealthy man. Looking about for investments, his keen perception espied a vast fortune in lumber, and then followed those vast accumulations of timber lands, by buying thousands of acres in West Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia and Canada.

He also became greatly interested in coal lands, and as he must find a conveyance to bring his coal to market, he was naturally drawn into railroad schemes. His ability and enterprise soon placed him on the board of directors for such roads as the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western, and New Jersey Central, being at one time President of the Houston and Texas.

He helped found several of the most noted Insurance Companies in the country, and was a director until his death, of the Greenwich Saving Bank, City Bank, The American Exchange National Bank, the United States Trust Company, the Bowery Fire Insurance Company, and the Mutual Life Insurance Company. He was President of the Chamber of Commerce, and owned a very large number of saw-mills, besides carrying on the regular business of the firm. What will those people, who would do this or that if they only had time, say to all this work done by one man who then found time to serve on the board of management of religious organizations innumerable?

He was a great temperance advocate, giving thousands of dollars annually toward the support of various societies. There were others who had wealth, and gave possibly as much to the betterment of mankind as did Dodge, but we cannot now recall any man of great wealth who would deny himself as much personally, beside giving, as he did. In fact he seemed to be crowded to death with work, yet he never refused to aid all who were worthy applicants. For years he gave away annually over $200,000, yet it was found at his death, February, 1883, that his wealth amounted to something like $5,000,000, a large share of which was also given to charitable purposes.


We have written the lives of journalists, of eminent statesmen, but we are now going to write the life of one of the most powerful men in America. A man who has far greater influence over his fellow-men than many a king or emperor, and a man who has played a most prominent part in the development of our Republic.

Such a man is Jay Gould to-day who has risen to this dizzy height, from a penniless boy on his father's farm, which he left at the age of only fourteen to seek his fortune. He asked his father's permission first, which was readily given, he thinking it would cure the boy of his restlessness, and when young Gould left, his father fully expected to see him again within a few days, but even the father was mistaken in calculating the stick-to-it-iveness of the son. He at last found employment in a store where he remained two years when his health compelled outdoor work. He therefore obtained employment carrying chains for some surveyors at $10 a month. These men were making surveys from which an Albany publishing firm expected to issue maps for an atlas they were getting out. Not only did Gould carry the chains but he improved every opportunity for picking up points in surveying. We see one characteristic of the man plainly showing itself at this early age, for when the firm failed, Gould had the maps published himself, and then personally sold enough of them to clear $1,000. With this start he went to Pennsylvania, and was employed in a tannery. As one sees, nearly every successful man owes that success largely to the cultivation of pleasing manners, so it was with Gould. So apparent was his ability, and so well did he please his employer, that the man set Gould up in business at Gouldsborough, where he cleared $6,000 within the next two years. Gould was not satisfied with this moderate success, fine as it seemed to be; he only regarded these enterprises as stepping-stones to something higher. He next enters the metropolis where he buys and sells hides in a small office at No. 49 Gold street.

About this time Gould met a young lady at the Everett House, where he lived, whose acquaintance was destined to have a marked influence over his subsequent career. This bright, handsome girl attracted his attention so unmistakably that Miss Miller noticed it. A little flirtation took place which ripened into a mutual affection, and they were married without waiting for the parents' approval, probably Gould knew better, as the young lady, at the time was far above his station in life as society would say, hence acted in this matter as he would in any business transaction he entered.

Of course, this aroused Mr. Miller's righteous indignation, but he soon realized that Mr. Gould was a man of no ordinary calibre and wisely changed his course toward him. Mr. Miller owned a large interest in the Rensselaer & Saratoga Railroad, and young Gould, after visiting the same, concluded that it could be made to pay. He accordingly bought the entire stock his father-in-law owned, notwithstanding the stock was considered all but worthless. He immediately disposed of all other business, and assumed the management of the road by buying up as much of the remaining stock as seemed necessary to give him supreme control. He at once became Manager, Superintendent and Treasurer. When the stock had multiplied upon itself many times, he sold out, receiving in all $750,000, for his interest. This first scheme illustrates his line of procedure in most of those seemingly mysterious movements which have marked his uniform success; namely, to find some road which was almost worthless and, if he thought good management would bring it up, secretly buy the controlling interest in the line, and when it reached a fair figure, sell. The Rutland & Washington was offering stock at ten cents on the dollar; he at once bought it up and managed it so well that he soon was enabled to sell at 120, making, as most people would think, a fortune.

Cleveland & Pittsburg was for a long time in a precarious condition, perceiving which, Mr. Gould bought up all the stock he could find, and threw his whole ability and experience into the development of the same. The stock soon took an upward move, and when it reached 120 he sold his twenty-five thousand shares. We next see him buying Union Pacific at fifteen. This stock kept falling, but while others sold continually at a sacrifice, and seemed glad to unload at any figure, the lower it went the more Gould bought. After securing a controlling interest as desired, he began to develop the iron industries along the line, which of course soon gave the road business. This and other causes soon set Union Pacific "booming," and the stock began to rise. No sooner, however, did the disappointed capitalists see their mistake in selling than the cry was raised: "That is Gould's road and if you touch it you will surely be burnt." But despite all this the stock gradually rose, and in 1879 Mr. Gould sold the whole hundred thousand shares that he owned to a syndicate. It must not be supposed, however, that Mr. Gould sold to satisfy public clamor—Mr. Gould is not that kind of a man.

How much he was worth when he went into Erie no one knows, but it was no inconsiderable amount. After Mr. Drew's suit with Vanderbilt, whereby the latter lost seven millions, Mr. Gould was made President of Erie, and the capital stock was increased to two hundred and thirty-five thousand shares, which stood about fifty-seven and one-half million. This brought the price down to 44. It was determined to sink Erie still lower, so Gould, Fisk and Drew locked up greenbacks to the amount of one million four hundred thousand. By a false movement on Drew's part, which his partners considered treacherous, they accordingly lost, and at once unlocked greenbacks, thereby stock advanced and Drew, instead of gaining, lost one million five hundred thousand, as he was seven thousand shares short. The price of the shares continued upward and Gould was obliged to get it down by some means in order to save himself. He therefore inaugurated a "bull" movement on gold. A. R. Corbin, brother-in-law of the President, Mr. Grant, was selected to sound the government, who reported that it was not intended to put any gold on the market for the present, at least. The clique at once bought millions more of gold than was to be had in the city outside of the Sub-Treasury. Up, up, went gold; 130 is reached, and next 133-1/2, then 134; still the order is buy; buy all that is for sale. The price reaches 144, but nothing daunted, the clique still buy in order to force the shorts to cover; yet on up it goes. Black Friday week is upon them, but Jay Gould is now selling while others are still buying right and left. Of course, he still pretends to buy, but is secretly selling at 165. At last the crash came, when the Secretary of the Treasury sold four millions on the street, and Gould is nearly the only one who is safe. This may look crooked—it certainly is not Puritan, but there are features of Jay Gould's success which are not praiseworthy; however, we claim there are many things that are worthy of imitation, hence it is here given in detail. He next bought Kansas & Texas at 8 and ran it to 48. He purchased Wabash at 5, and this, under his management, rose to 80 preferred.

Where Mr. Gould has shown the greatest skill in his line, is his connection with the transactions with the Western Union. Desiring to secure control of that company, he went into American Union, and within one year it was a formidable rival, which he substituted for the Western Union wires on his roads, and that company's stock fell from 116 to 88. If it is true, as stated, that Gould was short 30,000, he must have cleared on this one transaction $840,000. This method is so unlike his usual tactics that we are inclined to disbelieve it; however, his dealings all through, it is claimed, seem to prove it. He next caused a war of rates to be announced between his company and Western Union, and of course, the stock of the latter dropped still lower. The story was then circulated that he was to become a director of Western Union, and no war would take place; up that stock went to 104. But when the day came for the election, no Gould was to be seen, and back down it tumbled. It is reasonably supposable that Gould profited by each of these fluctuations. American Union became a fixed thing, and Western Union becoming alarmed at renewed rumors of war, at once caused Mr. Gould to be seen, and he to-day owns twenty millions of Western Union. His Missouri, Pacific and other lines, together with his elevated railroad schemes, are somewhat familiar topics with our readers.

The career of such a man is a type and a proof of the progress of our land and the boundless opportunities that are open to energy and ability. Jay Gould has attained this dizzy height from poverty and obscurity. Unlike many rich men he is not a "fast" man. He is an excellent husband and father; he is never so happy, seemingly, as when at home sharing the family hearth, while others, who are more widely respected, are at their clubs. Jay Gould has been the subject of much abuse; indeed, what great men have not been? He is often described as a heartless oppressor of the poor and an enemy of his country. These accusations can often be traced to jealous rivals. While he has made millions in the new systems he has opened in the West, our territories and new States have been wonderfully developed and enriched billions of dollars. We honestly believe that the wonderful growth of the Western country would have been utterly impossible but for such men as Gould. If there had not been money in it their energy would have been lacking, and without that energy they must have lain dormant until other capitalists had opened the way to progress. That it takes a vast capital to develop the resources in a new country must be plain to every one. Show me a town which is blessed with men of capital and enterprise, and I will show you a town that is prosperous. Show me a town which has little of either, and I will show you a town in which you would hate to live.

Mr. Gould appears to be a man whom nothing would excite; and one of his brokers says of him: "You never can tell from his expression when he reads a telegram whether he has made five millions or lost ten." Reticence is one secret of Mr. Gould's success. He absolutely cannot be induced to say anything which he desires kept. He is on the whole the most incomprehensible of New Yorkers. He is an embodiment of the money-making faculty. It would be a hard question to tell what Gould is worth. I know men who believe that he is to-day the richest citizen in New York. I know others who are confident that he is not worth over one million, and others who are certain that he is on the eve of bankruptcy, but this last is preposterous.

His wealth is, of course, subject to fluctuation, and possibly Mr. Gould himself could not tell its exact magnitude; certainly no one knows, unless he does, what the precise amount is; but the writer would say at least seventy-five millions. Indeed, if the truth was known, we would not be surprised if it would amount to nearly one hundred millions.

He is incessantly engaged in great operations, and these cannot be managed without vast sums. He is determined that no one shall be acquainted with his affairs. Despite this outward immobility, the strain of these colossal operations upon his brain and nerves cannot be otherwise than very wearing. It is said that he is troubled with sleeplessness, and that many of his gigantic schemes are worked out while he is lying in bed awake. Occasionally he gets up at night, lights the gas, walks the floor and tears paper into bits. It may be remembered that Fisk testified on his investigation by the Congressional Committee respecting the transactions of Black Friday, that he observed Jay Gould tearing up paper and throwing the pieces into the waste-basket, and thus he knew that his partner had some work on hand. He scarcely ever smiles and never lifts his voice above a conversational tone. He has no friends so far as known, but a host of enemies.

His life is in great speculations. His greatest crime in the eyes of his fellow-speculators is, that he succeeds so well in doing to Wall Street, what Wall Street is perpetually, but vainly trying to do to him.


In the summer of 1838, John Wannamaker was born in Philadelphia. His father was a brick-maker, and while out of school mornings, nights and Saturdays, the boy John was engaged in turning bricks which were laid in the sun to dry. Thus early those habits of industry were instilled into the lad who, by his own diligence, was destined to one day become the merchant prince of Philadelphia.

A few years later, school was abandoned for steady employment which was found in a store four miles from his home, where he boarded, for he had not the means to do otherwise, thereby walking eight miles per day, aside from his duties at the store, receiving $1.25 each Saturday evening. Think of it, working hard all the week, walking four miles night and morning—in all forty-eight miles per week, and receiving only $1.25 salary for the entire week's work. Afterward he was employed in a law office, and still later we find him in a clothing store at a salary of $1.50 per week. Here he seemed to find the calling which suited his taste, and he cultivated a pleasing disposition; people liked to trade with the young clerk. Of course this faculty, coupled with energy, would soon bring recognition, and it was not long before he was called to responsible positions. Another strong feature of the success of John Wannamaker was, he lived on less than he earned, and saved the balance.

In 1861 he had saved several hundred dollars, and as he had earned a reputation for honesty and ability, he was enabled to start in business on his own account. This firm of Wannamaker & Brown was situated at the corner of Sixth and Market streets. Mr. Wannamaker kept the books—the firm hired no superfluous help—everything that they could do personally they hired no one to do. A firm which possesses ability, and follows such business rules, will succeed. Notwithstanding that the times were unusually "shaky," they prospered.

As the business increased other stores were opened, and John Wannamaker, the poor clerk—after a period of twenty years of enterprise, pushed by energy, controlled a force of 6,000 employes. Not only does the firm handle clothing, but every conceivable article generally found in retail trade, the establishment being the largest in the great city of brotherly love.

How pleasant it is to see men to whom God has bountifully supplied money using that means for the good of their fellow-creatures. Among the liberal, whole-souled millionaires of our country, John Wannamaker is to be found. Although carrying on an immense business he has found time to establish Sunday-Schools, solicit money for the Young Men's Christian Association, and has contributed to these personally, over $100,000.

John Wannamaker is a philanthropist. One of his favorite schemes has been to go into the vilest neighborhoods, establish a Sunday-School, build nice houses, and thus bring the locality up to the plane of respectability. He was looked to for aid when the Centennial was projected, and it is needless to say that it was not found wanting. The secret of his great success is his indefatigable industry, and a thorough mastery of his business. He is one of the most enterprising merchants in history.


The dry-goods prince of the world. A marble palace for a store, which is entered daily by an average of twenty-five thousand people who buy $75,000 worth of merchandise—a business with daily import duties to the Government of $25,000 in gold. When we look at all this, and then remember that he was proprietor, not only of the palace store of America, but had branches in Philadelphia, Boston, Lyons, Paris, Belfast, Glasgow, Berlin, Bradford, Manchester, Nottingham, and other cities throughout the world. When we behold this great success, and then think how he landed in this country a poor Irish lad of sixteen, friendless, homeless, and almost penniless, alone in a strange land, we involuntarily exclaim, "How was such a change in his position brought about?" Why did he succeed, while others all about him who were far better situated, failed? Let us follow him:

He was born at Belfast, Ireland, October 21st, 1802, and in 1818 came to America. He was a mere lad of sixteen. The first work that he obtained was as assistant in a college; here he worked hard, saved his money, and at last he was able to open a small store in the city where he sold dry-goods. When he became twenty-one he was called to his native country to claim a small legacy left him by a relative who had died. He had made a study of his business, hence invested the entire sum in Irish products, and returning to America rented another store on Broadway, and thus began that great importing business. At this time he was his own buyer, salesman, book-keeper and errand boy. Ah! there is the secret of the success of nine-tenths of our great men. They began at the bottom—never hiring help for the mere appearance or convenience of their assistance. They never hired done what they themselves could do. And then there is another thing to remember—beginning thus at the bottom they, of necessity, became thoroughly familiar with the details of their business, hence were never obliged to leave anything to the 'confidential clerk' who has ruined so many business men. Stewart soon felt the need of more room, and was compelled to seek more commodious quarters. After making another move to a larger store-room he made his first purchase of real estate, which was his "down-town" store. After this his "up-town" store was built.

He was a splendid salesman, a perfect gentleman toward customers, and people preferred trading with him rather than any clerk in his employ. His tastes were very simple, and he was always plainly dressed. It has been stated that Mr. Stewart never posed for a photograph, which is a significant fact of itself. His motto was, "Never spend a dollar unless there is a prospect of legitimate gain." He arose early in the morning, went to his "up-town" store, and thoroughly inspected everything; then to his "down-town" store where he attended to his business at that end of the line.

At the breaking out of the Civil War he aided the Union cause very much. Being in sympathy with the principles of the Republican party, and holding a powerful influence over the commercial world, the President, Mr. Grant, nominated him Secretary of the Treasury, and he was at once confirmed by the Senate; but as there is a law prohibiting any merchant in the importing business from holding this position, he was objected to by opposing politicians; and, although he offered to donate the entire profits of his business to the poor of the city of New York, they still objected, and he was obliged to resign. By this, the country was undoubtedly robbed of the services of a man capable of making one of the best officers for that position our country has ever known. However, it was right that it should be so; it would have been very unwise to have established such a precedent.

In some respects, Mr. Stewart was a very liberal man, although it has been stated otherwise. In his will is his desire to do good especially manifested. Arrangements were made for the building of a church and parsonage, and a school for the benefit of poor boys who desired to fit themselves for a professional life.

Some people may be fortunate in one instance in their life. We do not wholly disregard the idea of circumstances, but we do claim and try to prove that it is not the one instance in the life after all. When we consider a whole life's history, we are convinced every time that generally where one is seemingly very fortunate, it is the result of careful calculation and down-right hard work. Bad luck is the natural result of carelessness in business matters. Had A. T. Stewart waited for a lucky chance to come to him, he might—probably never would have realized that splendid success that did attend his efforts. Here he came to this country at the age of sixteen. He did not wait for his grandfather to die and leave him that legacy but went right at some work. It may be possible that the grandfather gave him that money because he felt that young Stewart would make good use of it. Certain it is he did not wait but went right to work, saved his money, and was well prepared to use the legacy skillfully when he did receive it. However, if Stewart had never had that money given him, he would have succeeded. His whole life was a series of maturing plans, which had been carefully laid, and then pushed to completion. A man must have ability to plan well, and the courage and backbone to push those plans to success. A. T. Stewart possessed these qualities to a marked degree. He began as his moderate circumstances would warrant, and best of all he never allowed his energies to slacken. He never became a lazy business man. He never allowed himself to rest content with the laurels already his. He was a man of enterprise; while competitors followed the footsteps of their fathers, A. T. Stewart was progressing—he was original in nearly every undertaking.

On the 10th day of April, 1876, this great magnate died. His business was carried on, for a time, by others, but the mainspring was gone, and in 1882 the great clock stopped. Here is an instance that should convince us of the result of courage, energy, and self-reliance. A. T. Stewart began without a dollar, and succeeded, while they who had the benefit of his experience, the use of his vast wealth, and a marble palace, could not succeed.

The history of the stealing of Mr. Stewart's body is well-known, and as the papers have succeeded so well in keeping the subject before the people, we will not speak further of that here, our object being rather to instruct than to narrate sensational episodes.


In the year 1782 there was born a child of parents who had once been somewhat wealthy, but who were then living in poverty at Newark, New Jersey. This child was Nicholas Longworth, the father of grape culture in the United States.

He attempted to learn various trades, at one time being bound to a shoemaker, but finally settled upon the law and began its study, as his circumstances would allow, in his native city. Young Longworth saw that he would have far more chance to rise in the new country west of the Alleghanies than in the over-crowded East. Therefore, when he was of age he emigrated "out west," stopping at the outskirts of civilization, locating in a small place of 1000 inhabitants called Cincinnati. Here he entered the law office of Judge Burnett, and soon was capable of passing the necessary examination, and was admitted to the bar. His first case was in defense of a certain man who had been arrested for horse-stealing, a very grave offense in that wilderness. This man had no money and about all he possessed in the world that he could call his own was two copper stills. As much as young Longworth needed money he was obliged to accept these as his fee for clearing the man. He tried to turn the stills into money but finally traded them for thirty-three acres of land, which was a barren waste. He had kept his eyes open and felt sure that the possibilities for Cincinnati were very great. He therefore bought land at ten dollars per lot, as fast as his means would allow, and all through the early portion of his life bought real estate until he became recognized as the heaviest real estate owner in Cincinnati.

Years afterward he saw the wisdom of his course,—living to see his ten dollar lots rise to ten thousand dollars each, and the land which he received as his first fee, that was thought to be all but worthless, rise to the value of two million dollars. After following the law for about twenty years he was forced to give up his practice in order to take care of his extensive land interest. He went into the grape growing business, and for some time his efforts were attended with only discouragement, but he had relied on the clippings from foreign vines. He firmly believed that the Ohio valley was naturally adapted to the growth of the grape, and in this enterprise he allowed himself to harbor no thoughts other than of success.

This is a characteristic of any man calculated to succeed. After experimenting with many different varieties, he at last hit upon the Catawba. To encourage the industry he laid out a very large vineyard, gave away great numbers of cuttings, offered a prize for any improvement in the Catawba grape, and proclaimed that he would buy all the wine that could be brought to him from the valley, whether in large or small quantities. The result was that grape growing figured as no small factor in the development of Ohio. He had a wine cellar capable of holding 300,000 bottles, and was worth at his death $15,000,000.

Nicholas Longworth was exceedingly liberal in his own way—selling his lots on easy installments, thereby aiding many to a home. His motto was, "Help those who help themselves," however, he gave much to those whom no one else would aid. He was personally of inferior appearance; not only this, but nothing pleased him more than a shabby dress, being often mistaken for a beggar. As a benefactor and horticulturist he made his influence to be felt in succeeding generations.


Of all the newspaper editors we have ever read, possibly Robert Bonner is the most enterprising. He was born in Ireland in the year 1824, and at the age of sixteen came to Hartford, Connecticut. He had an uncle here who was a farmer, but Robert aspired to own a paper, and drifted into the office of the Hartford Courant. Robert Bonner determined to own a paper; he, therefore, set about it, working faithfully every day, and overtime, saving his money. He mastered his business, becoming an expert compositor. In 1844 he went to New York and obtained employment on the Mirror. He was intrusted with the oversight of the advertising department, and it was soon seen that he had a decidedly fine taste in the arrangement of this line, a feature which has undoubtedly had much to do with his wonderful success later. He was also at this time a correspondent of the Hartford Courant, also newspapers in Boston, Albany and Worcester. About 1851 he bought out the Merchants Ledger, a paper devoted to the commercial interests of the country. This he transformed into a family story paper, and christened it the New York Ledger. Fanny Fern was just appearing in the columns of literature. Bonner offered her $1,000 to write a story for the Ledger, enclosing his check for the amount. As this was a very high price in those days, of course she accepted. Then the papers throughout the country were full of advertisements—"Read the Thousand Dollar Story in the Ledger." "Read The New York Ledger"—Some people said, "Well, first-class journals don't use such flashy ways of inducing people to subscribe; they rely on the merits of their paper." Bonner heard this and began to study how to overcome this tide of sentiment. There was Harpers Weekly—no one questioned its respectability. The Harpers never indulged in any flashy advertising, but soon the people were surprised to see in all the leading papers, 'Buy Harpers Weekly,' as no one imagined that Bonner had paid for the advertising; they attributed the advertisements to the necessity Harpers felt through the rivalry of the Ledger. This sort of enterprise cost, but it convinced people that respectable journals advertised as did the Ledger. People said it was 'cheap, trashy literature, etc.'

Mr. Bonner at once hunted up Edward Everett who was recognized as the representative of New England refinement. This was a most opportune time for Mr. Bonner, as Mr. Everett was trying to raise a large sum with which to aid in beautifying the home and tomb of Washington. Mr. Bonner engaged Mr. Everett to write a series of articles on Mount Vernon, giving in return his check for $10,000 to be applied toward the Everett Fund for the aid of the Association. Probably Mr. Everett would have refused to write at any other time, but Bonner took advantage of circumstances—ALWAYS.

He next secured George Bancroft, the eminent historian. Then followed Horace Greely, James Gordon Bennett, and Henry J. Raymond. When such lights of journalism would write for the Ledger, what could lesser country editors say? Next came a story by Henry Ward Beecher, who was followed by Dr. John Hall the great Presbyterian Divine, Bishop Clark, Dr. English, Longfellow, Tennyson, and others, including a series of articles from the presidents of the leading colleges throughout the country.

Mr. Bonner is a Presbyterian, being a member of the church presided over by Dr. John Hall, on Fifth Avenue. He has given many thousands of dollars to various institutions and charities. He owns the finest stable of horses in the Union, among which are such as Maud S.—his first great trotter was Dexter. He never allows one of his horses to trot for money.

Mr. Bonner is getting along in years but still attends to business. His paper has at times attained a circulation of 400,000 copies, each issue.


Who, indeed, has not heard of the American Express Company? Yet, how few there are who know to whom we are indebted for its existence.

William G. Fargo was born May 20, 1818, at Pompey, New York, and at the age of twelve he was mail-carrier over a route that covered forty miles. The inference must be at once formed that William G. Fargo was no ordinary child. He must have been industrious and trustworthy, for the mail must be delivered on time. No holiday could be observed, nor could any circus be allowed to come between him and his work. Seeking a more remunerative calling he went to Waterville, where he clerked in a small store and tavern, improving his spare moments in learning to keep accounts. When seventeen he went to Syracuse and entered a grocery house. He continued in the grocery line in one capacity or another for five years, when he accepted the freight agency of the Auburn and Syracuse Railroad, in which capacity he had found his calling. Two years later he became associated with Pomeroy & Co., and was given the express agency for that company at Buffalo, and in 1844 he became a member of the firm of Wells & Co., who established an express line from Buffalo, west to Detroit, via Cleveland. This firm, in time, became Livingston & Fargo, and finally the several express companies: Wells & Co., Butterfield, Wasson & Co. and Livingston & Co., became merged into the since famous American Express Co. In 1868 Mr. Fargo was elected President of this Company, and remained at its head until his death. He was also connected with various other enterprises, being Vice-President of the New York Central & Hudson River railroad, and was also largely interested in Northern Pacific and other railroad stock. In 1861 he was elected Mayor of Buffalo on the Democratic ticket, but so impartial was he in the administration of the city affairs, and so patent was his business ability, that he was re-elected, being supported by all parties.

Such is the reward for earnestness. And will any one say that William G. Fargo was not deserving of this splendid success? If we will have success we must earn it. Let no man envy another in no matter what station of life he may be situated. Rest assured that we will fill the place that we are capable of filling; no more, no less.


James C. Flood was born in New York city. He received only a plain common school education, but has succeeded, not from a lack of education but in spite of that lack. He passed through the usual routine of boys placed in moderate circumstances, until the year 1849, being past his majority, he sailed in the good ship "Elizabeth," around the "Horn," arriving in a strange land without money or friends, but he had brains, and they were reinforced by a surprising allowance of will-power.

He drifted from one thing to another, kept a restaurant, and finally in 1854 loomed up as senior partner in the firm of Flood & O'Brien, who were soon deep in "Old Kentuck," seeking the treasures which they found in great quantities, and finally when they took hold of the "Hale & Norcross" mine, it made them the first bonanza kings America ever knew.

He next projects the Nevada Bank and makes the call for over five millions of dollars which leads to the suspension of the Bank of California, as the indiscrete placing of its resources leaves that bank in a weak position to withstand so sudden a drain, and was therefore indirectly the cause, as most people think, of its beloved President's death. Mr. Flood desired to place this Nevada Bank upon so firm a foundation that neither the indiscretion of speculators or the ebb and flow of mercantile life could overthrow it. How well this has been accomplished can be seen from the fact, that it has a capital of nearly fifteen million dollars, and numbers among its directors, such bonanza kings as James C. Flood, John W. MacKay and James G. Fair, whose private fortunes combined represent over $100,000,000, to say nothing of other wealthy directors. This bank asserts that it has special facilities for handling bullion, and we should think quite likely it has. Something of the condition of the private finances of Mr. Flood can be ascertained. If one takes the trouble to look over the assessment roll he will find the following: "James C. Flood, 6,000 shares, Nevada Bank stock, $1,200,000; 12,000 shares, Pacific Mill & Mining Co., $4,000,000; 250 shares, Pacific Wood, Lumber & Flume Co., $30,000; 1,000 shares, San Francisco Gaslight stock, $90,000; 937 shares of Golden City Chemical Works, $20,000; 3,000 shares of Virginia & Gold-Hill Water Co., $300,000; 47-1/2 shares of Giant Powder Co., $60,000; 649-1/2 shares Atlantic Giant Powder Co., $30,000; 35,000 shares Ophir Mine stock, $1,000,000," and he is assessed for $250,000 in money. Then comes J. C. Flood & Co. "Controlling interest in stock of Yellow Jacket, Union Consolidated, Scorpion, Savage, Ophir, Occidental, Hale & Norcross, Gould & Curry, Consolidated Virginia, Best & Belcher and other mining companies, $10,000,000; money $500,000." In all it is quite a fortune for a poor boy to find, but it must be remembered that Mr. Flood had much with which to contend, and that nine men out of ten might have passed over the same ground and found nothing. Industry is what wins, and J. C. Flood is no exception to the rule. In a recent law suit Mr. Flood displayed a most peculiar memory, or rather a most remarkable lack of memory. We take the following facts from an editorial on the subject:

"A certain man sued Mr. Flood to recover about $26,000,000, the alleged value of certain 'tailings' on some of the mines. Mr. Flood did not know what company milled the ore of the Consolidated Virginia; did not remember who was President of the company at the time; he might have been; could not say for certain however; did not know where the crude bullion from his own mines was sent to be melted into bars; could not tell how much was worked, nor anything about it. He did not remember who was treasurer of the mill company; he might have been, might now be, but could not tell for certain."

Mr. Flood owns one of the finest mansions, for a private residence, in the whole world. It cost one million, and is a magnificent building in any sense.

Few men surpass him in either getting or keeping money.


John W. MacKay is not only the youngest and the richest of that bonanza trio—Flood, Fair and MacKay but immense wealth has not spoiled him. He is of Irish birth, but came to this country before he was of age. When the gold fever broke out he was one of the first to seek his fortune in that auriferous country bordering on the Pacific, in California. Contrary to the general supposition that his great wealth came through 'good luck,' let me say, it was only by constant toil and slowly acquired experience that he learned how to tell a non-paying lead from a bonanza. Several times he seemed about to strike the long-looked for success only to find his brightest hopes dashed to the earth. But these failures tempered him for the greater hardships that followed.

The famous "Comstock Lode" is situated among a vast accumulation of rocks and deep canyons—the result of terrible volcanic eruptions at some remote period. This mining district was discovered by two Germans in about 1852-3. Contrary to the opinion expressed by other prospectors, these Germans saw silver in the rejected ore. Both brothers suddenly dying, the claim fell to a storekeeper named Comstock who sold out for a few thousand. Mr. MacKay's investment in the one mine, the "Consolidated Virginia and California," has paid him unheard of dividends. This mine produced in a period covering six years, from 1873, gold and silver to the amount of over sixty-three millions of dollars. The combined profits of the two mines were over seventy-three and one-half millions of dollars. Mr. MacKay drifted to this lode, making his first 'hit' in 1863, and in this section the bulk of his vast fortune was accumulated.

On the 25th of November, 1867, he concluded that he was able to support a wife, and accordingly married the widow of an old friend (Dr. Thompson) who had shared his varying fortune of former years when he little dreamed of the vast wealth that awaited him. This lady is one of the best hands to help a man spend a fabulous income, of which we are aware. She lives in Paris, where she gives the most expensive of entertainments. When General Grant was in France he was her guest. She supports a private railway carriage to use at her pleasure, and it would almost exceed belief to describe the cost of her table service; in fact, she lives in oriental splendor. On the other hand Mr. MacKay is decidedly pronounced, personally, in favor of little show. He is far more at home in Virginia City, where he may often be seen in a genuine mining costume, than at his palatial home in Paris.

The ground had been known for years wherein his great wealth was found, but it was pronounced worthless. Everything seemingly had to be contested; confidence was lacking, and what confidence remained was daily agitated by parties who were jealous rivals. The stock became almost worthless, and great discontent was manifest when, to make matters worse, a fire broke out which burned the company's property and valuable machinery. Twelve hundred feet of ground had to be slowly gone over in search for the right vein, at a cost of $500,000. Amid great discouragement John W. MacKay led this apparently forlorn hope to at last be crowned with the success he so richly deserved. He now is estimated to be worth in the vicinity of $55,000,000, and although it may seem a somewhat extravagant reward, it cannot be denied that this vast sum could have been placed in far worse hands.

Both Mr. and Mrs. MacKay are very liberal toward charitable purposes. They were especially complimented by Pope Leo XIII for their charitable deeds. As Mr. MacKay is but about fifty years of age, it is hard to conjecture his possible future. While many features in his career seem to justify the belief in "luck," still, to the close observer, it is manifest that had he not possessed great endurance, and known no such thing as fail, the world would never have known of John W. MacKay. Surely, great effort is the price of great success, ALWAYS.


The name of James C. Fair will be recognized at once as one of the bonanza kings, and like the others he enjoyed only a fair education, starting for California at about the same time as the rest; he taking the overland route while they went by water. His only capital consisting of a miner's outfit, and with those simple implements he began his hard fought battle for wealth. He made mining a scientific study and after about six years of variable success, he became known as an expert. Soon after this he accepted the superintendency of the Ophir mine, and later, the Hale & Norcross; since which time he has gone on, until now, he can count his worldly possessions by the million. He is a most thorough miner, and his long continued life at the bottom of the mines has had a telling effect on his health. That he has successfully managed such wild and wicked men, as many miners are, without becoming the victim of some "accident," indicates something of his ability. Finally his impaired health necessitated his withdrawal from active work, and he made an extended voyage, returning in a much improved condition.

In 1881 he was elected to the United States Senate, where he acquitted himself with credit. He charged nothing for his services, an event without parallel in our history, however, he received all for which he went to Washington—honor. He is assessed for over forty millions, and can well afford to donate his salary to the Government.

Like the other bonanza kings he seems to have been specially favored by fortune, but the old saying, "Birds of a feather will flock together," is true in this case, for these men are all practical miners and changed partners often until the firm of Flood, Fair & MacKay was formed, since which time they all seem perfectly satisfied each with the other. All had been sorely tried during their earlier life and were not found wanting either in ability or stick-to-it-iveness as they passed through the crucible of Dame Fortune.

As we have just been reading the lives of the three bonanza kings, J. C. Flood, J. C. Fair and J. W. MacKay, possibly a description of one of their enterprises in the shape of a flume will be interesting as described by a New York Tribune correspondent:

A fifteen-mile ride in a flume down the Sierra Nevada Mountains in thirty minutes was not one of the things contemplated in my visit to Virginia City, and it is entirely within reason to say that even if I should make this my permanent place of residence—which fortune forbid—I shall never make the trip again. The flume cost, with its appurtenances, between $200,000 and $300,000—if it had cost a million it would be the same in my estimation. It was built by a company interested in the mines here, principally the owners of the Consolidated Virginia, California, Hale & Norcross, Gould & Curry, Best & Belcher and Utah mines. The largest stockholders in these mines are J. C. Flood, James C. Fair, John W. MacKay and W. S. O'Brien, who compose without doubt the wealthiest firm in the United States. Taking the stock of their companies at the price quoted in the board, the amount they own is more than $100,000,000, and each has a large private fortune in addition. The mines named use 1,000,000 feet of lumber per month under ground, and burn 40,000 cords of wood per year. Wood is here worth from $10 to $12 per cord, and at market prices Messrs. Flood & Co. would have to pay nearly $500,000 a year for wood alone. Going into the mine the other day, and seeing the immense amount of timber used, and knowing the incalculable amount of wood burned in the several mines and mills, I asked Mr. MacKay, who accompanied me, where all the wood and timber came from. "It comes," said he, "from our lands in the Sierras, forty or fifty miles from here. We own over twelve thousand acres in the vicinity of Washoe Lake, all of which is heavily timbered." "How do you get it here?" I asked. "It comes," said he, "in our flume down the mountains, fifteen miles, and from our dumping grounds is brought by the Virginia & Truckee Railroad to this city, about sixteen miles. You ought to see the flume before you go back; it is really a wonderful thing." The flume is a wonderful piece of engineering work. It is built wholly on trestle-work and stringers; there is not a cut in the whole distance, and the grade is so heavy that there is little danger of a jam. The trestle-work is very substantial, and undoubtedly strong enough to support a narrow-gauge railway. It runs over foot-hills, through valleys, around mountains, and across canyons. In one place it is seventy feet high. The highest point of the flume from the plain is 3,700 feet, and on an air-line, from beginning to end the distance is eight miles, the course thus taking up seven miles in twists and turns. The trestle-work is thoroughly braced longitudinally and across, so that no break can extend further than a single box, which is 16 feet. All the main supports, which are five feet apart, are firmly set in mudsills, and the boxes or troughs rest in brackets four feet apart. These again rest upon substantial stringers. The grade of the flume is from 1,600 to 2,000 feet from top to bottom—a distance, as previously stated, of fifteen miles. The sharpest fall is three feet in six. There are two reservoirs from which the flume is fed. One is 1,100 feet long and the other is 600 feet. A ditch, nearly two miles long, takes the water to the first reservoir, whence it is conveyed 3-1/4 miles to the flume through a feeder capable of carrying 450 inches of water. The whole flume was built in ten weeks. In that time all the trestle-work, stringers and boxes were put in place. About 200 men were employed on it at one time, being divided into four gangs. It required 2,000,000 feet of lumber, but the item which astonished me most was that there were 28 tons, or 56,000 pounds of nails used in the construction of this flume.

Mr. Flood and Mr. Fair had arranged for a ride in the flume, and I was challenged to go with them. Indeed the proposition was put in this way—they dared me to go. I thought that if men worth twenty-five or thirty million dollars apiece could afford to risk their lives, I could afford to risk mine, which isn't worth half as much. So I accepted the challenge, and two 'boats' were ordered. These were nothing more than pig troughs, with one end knocked out. The 'boat' is built like the flume, V shaped, and fits into the flume. The grade of the flume at the mill is very heavy, and the water rushes through it at railroad speed. The terrors of that ride can never be blotted from the memory of one of the party. I cannot give the reader a better idea of a flume ride than to compare it to sliding down an old-fashioned eve-trough at an angle of 45 degrees, hanging in mid-air without support of roof or house, and extending a distance of fifteen miles. At the start we went at the rate of twenty miles an hour, which is a little less than the average speed of a railroad train. The red-faced carpenter sat in front of our boat on the bottom as best he could. Mr. Fair sat on a seat behind him, and I sat behind Mr. Fair in the stern and was of great service to him in keeping the water which broke over the end-board, from his back. There was also a great deal of water shipped in the bows of the hog-trough, and I know Mr. Fair's broad shoulders kept me from more than one ducking in that memorable trip. At the heaviest grades the water came in so furiously in front that it was impossible to see where we were going, or what was ahead of us; but when the grade was light, and we were going at a three or four minute pace, the view was very delightful, although it was terrible. When the water would enable me to look ahead, I could see the trestle here and there for miles; so small and so narrow and apparently so fragile that I could only compare it to a chalk-mark upon which, high in the air, I was running at a rate unknown to railroads. One circumstance during the trip did more to show me the terrible rapidity with which we dashed through the flume than anything else. We had been rushing down at a pretty lively rate of speed when the boat suddenly struck something in the bow, a nail, a lodged stick of wood or some secure substance which ought not to have been there. What was the effect? The red-faced carpenter was sent whirling into the flume ten feet ahead. Fair was precipitated on his face, and I found a soft lodgment on Fair's back. It seems to me that in a second's time—Fair himself a powerful man—had the carpenter by the scruff of the neck, and had pulled him into the boat. I did not know at this time that Fair had his fingers crushed between the flume and the boat. But we sped along; minutes seemed hours. It seemed an hour before we arrived at the worst place in the flume, and yet Hereford tells me that it was less than ten minutes. The flume at the point alluded to must have been very nearly forty-five degrees inclination. In looking out, before we reached it, I thought the only way to get to the bottom was to fall. How our boat kept in the track is more than I know.

The wind, the steamboat, the railroad, never went so fast. In this particularly bad place I allude to, my desire was to form some judgment as to the speed we were making. If the truth must be spoken, I was really scared almost out of my reason, but if I were on my way to eternity I wanted to know exactly how fast I went, so I huddled close to Fair, and turned my eyes toward the hills. Every object I placed my eyes upon was gone before I could plainly see what it was. Mountains passed like visions and shadows. It was with difficulty that I could get my breath. I felt that I did not weigh a hundred pounds, although I knew in the sharpness of intellect that I tipped the scales at two hundred. Mr. Flood and Mr. Hereford, although they started several minutes later than we, were close upon us. They were not so heavily loaded, and they had the full sweep of the water, while we had it rather at second-hand. Their boat finally struck ours with a terrible crash. Mr. Flood was thrown upon his face, and the waters flowed over him. What became of Hereford I do not know, except that when we reached the terminus of the flume he was as wet as any of us. This only remains to be said: We made the entire distance in less time than a railway train would ordinarily make, and a portion of the distance we went faster than a railway train ever went. Fair said we went at least a mile a minute. Flood said that we went at the rate of a hundred miles an hour, and my deliberate belief is that we went at a rate that annihilated time and space. We were a wet lot when we reached the terminus of the flume.

Flood said that he would not make the trip again for the whole Consolidated Virginia mine. Fair said that he should never again place himself upon an equality with timber and wood, and Hereford said he was sorry that he ever built the flume. As for myself, I told the millionaires that I had accepted my last challenge. When we left our boats we were more dead than alive. The next day neither Flood nor Fair were able to leave their beds. For myself, I have only the strength to say that I have had enough of flumes.


In the history of journalism, Horace Greeley must, for all time, hold a position in the front rank. As it is well-known he is a self-made man, being born of poor parents at Amherst, New Hampshire, on the 3rd day of February, 1811. His father was a farmer. The Greeley ancestors enjoyed a reputation for 'tenacity,' which was clearly shown in the pale-faced, flaxen-haired but precocious lad of fifteen, who presented himself and was employed at the office of the Northern Spectator, at Poultney, Vermont, in 1826; having walked from West Haven, his home, eleven miles distant. He was to remain an apprentice until twenty, and received in money the princely sum of forty dollars a year 'with which to buy clothes and what was left he might use for spending money.' Why he lived to found a great paper the reader can easily guess, when it is learned that Greeley used the greater part of said forty dollars each year for buying books.

He joined a local debating club where he became the 'giant' member, a tribute paid to his intellect. Most of the members were older than Greeley, but knowledge proved a power in that society and he was invariably listened to with marked attention despite his shabby appearance. Especially was he fond of political data; he followed the exchanges in the Spectator office with increasing interest. His parents removed to Pennsylvania, where he visited them during his apprenticeship as "printers' devil," and general assistant at Poultney, walking the most of the way, a distance of about 600 miles. The Spectator having collapsed, young Greeley, with his entire wardrobe done up in a handkerchief, once more visits Pennsylvania, but not to remain idle; he soon obtained a place in a printing office near his home, at eleven dollars per month, and later still he obtains employment at Erie where he receives fifteen dollars per month. Soon after this, not yet content, he is enroute for New York, where he arrived August 17, 1831.

His appearance in the metropolis was ludicrous in the extreme. One can imagine from accounts given of him how prepossessing he must have looked; flaxen locks, blue eyes, his hat on the back of his head as if accustomed to star gazing, must have given him the appearance of one decidedly 'green,' to say the least. As is a noted fact he was, to his death, exceedingly indifferent as to his dress and what are known as the social demands of society. Indeed he could be seen on the street almost any day with his pockets stuffed full of papers, his hat pushed back on his head like a sailor about to ascend the rigging, his spectacles seemingly about to slip off his nose, his boot heels running over, and we doubt not that he was as likely to have one leg of his pantaloons tucked into his boot top while the other was condescendingly allowed to retain its proper place. In fact it is hardly probable that he would have impressed any one with the idea that he was indeed a great editor of that city. But we return to his first visit; office after office was visited without avail but that hereditary 'tenacity' did not forsake him, and at last he met an old friend, a Mr. Jones whom he had first met in Poultney. This friend, although not a 'boss,' printer fashion set him at work on his own case. When the proprietor came in he was dumbfounded at the specimen of a printer he beheld, and declared to the foreman that he could not keep him. Fortunately, however, for young Greeley, the job that he was on was setting small type,—a most undesirable one. The foreman shrewdly suggested that as Jones, who was a good workman, knew him it would be a good policy to wait and see the result. As it was a very difficult job no wonder that Greeley's proof looked as though it had the measles, but as he was retained he must have done as well if not better than was expected. When the job was finished he was thrown out of employment, and he shifted about for some time doing odd jobs; in fact it must have been very discouraging, but finally he obtained employment on the Spirit of the Times, and afterward formed a business partnership with Mr. Story who, with Mr. Greeley, invested about $240. They established a penny paper, and were moderately successful, but Mr. Story was drowned and his place was filled by another. His connection with the New Yorker was his next business venture. While on this paper he was also editor of a paper in Albany, and a regular contributor to the Daily Whig. When we think that he gave himself only four hours sleep out of the twenty-four, we can realize how he could find time to edit two papers and write for the third, but despite this assiduousness his enterprise failed and he thereby lost $10,000.

Greeley's opinion on economy was clearly defined when he said: "For my own part, and I speak from sad experience, I would rather be a convict in States Prison or a slave in a rice swamp, than to pass through life under the harrow of debt. If you have but fifty cents and can get no more for the week, buy a peck of corn, parch it, and live on it rather than owe any man a dollar." He next started the Log Cabin. It was started in the beginning of 1840, designed to be run six months and then discontinued. Into this undertaking Horace Greeley threw all his energy and ability, guided by his experience. In those days a journal with a circulation of ten thousand was a big concern. When an edition of nearly fifty thousand of its first issue was called for, the publishers were beside themselves, and later when the Log Cabin ran up a circulation of eighty and even ninety thousand, the proprietors were frantic as to how they should get them printed. It is needless to say that the Log Cabin outlived its original expectations.

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