John Maxfield Gould
In the early days of the west the more favored districts naturally drew
to them-selves the men of greatest ambition, fore-sight, and business
sagacity. These sought the fields that held out the most to them in. the
way of promise for the future, and settling there, bent their energies to
laying the foundation of prosperity for themselves and their posterity.
Thus it is that Rock Island County, Illinois has been fortunate in the
character of its pioneers. They were not only of sturdy stock fit to endow
their descendants with the physical strength to build up a great community
but they were also above the average in mental grasp and moral fibre. They
were able to discern the opportunities which the region held forth for
agriculture, manufacturing, and commerce, and possessed the sound
judgment, executive ability, courage and perseverance to organize and
direct these to their full fruition.
Of this sort was Hon. John M. Gould, merchant, lumberman, banker and
manufacturer. Few men have had so large a share in the up-building of any
city as Judge Gould has had in making Moline what it is and rarely,
indeed. has any one lived to see the changes wrought in any community that
he has seen take place in this thriving manufacturing center. His
activities have extended into many fields and in all of them he has left a
permanent impress. Probably no other American of English descent can
boast. of an ancestry inhabiting American soil longer than that of Judge
Gould. Zacheus Gould came to what later became Massachusetts from England
in 1634, fourteen years later the Pilgrim fathers landed from the
Mayflower at Plymouth, and our subject is of the eighth generation
descending from him. The original home of Zacheus Gould still remains
in-the hands of the family. Amos Gould, grandfather of Judge Gould, was
also a native of Massachusetts, and fought for freedom in the war of the
Revolution. Soon after the close of that conflict he removed to New
Hampshire, where his son, Amos, Jr., father of Judge Gould, was born.
||John Maxfield Gould first opened
his eyes upon this world at Piermont, New Hampshire, February 24,
1822. He was the oldest of a family of ten children. His mother was
Nancy Bartlett, a native of the Granite State, and a daughter of
Nathaniel Bartlett, himself a soldier in the Revolution. Amos Gould,
Jr. learned the tanner's trade but subsequently engaged in
agricultural pursuits and it was on the farm that his children were
reared. Nine of the latter removed to the west after they reached
manhood and womanhood, and six are still living. The parents came to
make their home in Illinois in 1858. The father died in 1864 and the
mother in 1884.
Our subject availed himself of such advantages as
the common schools of that day afforded, supplementing them with two
years. attendance at academies at Canaan and Lyme, New Hampshire.
For three years after completing his studies he taught school, working
on his father's farm in the summer season. Then, attracted by the
opportunities the west afforded, and without capital other than willing
hands and a stout heart, he left his native state and made his way by the
tedious methods of travel of those days to Grand Detour, Ogle County,
Illinois, a place that gave promise of becoming an important center. Here
he found work in a general store and served as salesman three years.
Having in this time demonstrated his. worth to his employer he was
admitted to partnership. One year later, in 1848, he disposed of his
business interests in Grand Detour and removed to Moline to become a
member of the firm of Deere, Tate & Gould, the senior partner, John Deere,
afterward the famous plow manufacturer, having previously also engaged in
business in a small way at Grand Detour. Mr. Gould acted as financial
manager of the new concern at Moline for four years, when the partnership
was dissolved, Mr. Deere be-coming sole owner. The junior member formed a
partnership with Dewitt C. Dimock for the manufacture of wooden ware, the
establishment being the first of that nature in the west. A. site for a
factory was leased from the government on the Island of Rock Island and
business was carried on with great success for many years. In 1867 at the
re-quest of the government, the plant was re-moved to the mainland and a
lumber mill was erected the following year, a stock company being formed
at this time. Mr. Dimock was chosen president and Mr. Gould vice
president. The latter succeeded as head of the company on the death of Mr.
Dimock in 1886. In 1890 the woodenware branch was sold to a syndicate and
from that time on exclusive attention was given to lumbering and the
manufacture of wooden pails. The company owned extensive timber lands in
Wisconsin and rafted the logs to Moline. Twice the plant of the company
was destroyed by fire, first in 1856 and again in 1875, lightning being
the cause in the second in-stance. Each time it was rebuilt on a larger
scale than before and the business grew with-out interruption.
In 1857 Mr. Gould, in company with D. C. Dimock and C. P. Ryder,
established a bank in Moline under the firm name of Gould, Dimock &
Company. Mr. Gould had personal charge of this institution and it was
successful. In 1863 it was chartered as the First National Bank of Moline
with a paid up capital of $50,000. Mr. Gould was cashier four years, when
he was elected president.
Among the other institutions in which Mr. Gould was actively interested
was the Moline Water Power Company which he helped to organize and of
which he was elected treasurer and director. He was also a director and
treasurer in 1876 of the St. Louis, Rock Island and Chicago Railroad
Company, which is now the St. Louis division of the Chicago, Burlington
and Quincy Railroad.
|The title by which he is generally known came to
Mr. Gould through his election as county judge for a term shortly
after he came to Moline. Opposition to slavery caused him to leave
the Democratic party of which he was a member in early life, and
he became a Re-publican when that party was organized. He served
sixteen years as member of the state board of charities, and was
treasurer of the township of Moline for thirty-three years, during
which time he donated to the public schools the sum of $2,400 in
fees to which he was legally entitled.
It is to Judge Gould's public spirit that Moline owes its first
direct telegraph service. On his personal guarantee against loss an
office was established there and the sum of $112 was paid upon his
pledge before the establishment became self-sustaining.
Judge Gould is the father of the Moline City Hospital. He it was who
drew up the charter which requires the city to levy a two-mill tax
annually for its support. He has also contributed liberally for its
maintenance from his private funds. While not a member of any church, Mr,
Gould has contributed largely to the First Baptist Church of Moline.
Mr. Gould has been twice married. He was united August 13, 1848, with
Miss Alice Moulton, daughter of William Moulton of Randolph, Vermont,
and a second cousin of Secretary Chase of Ohio. Her death occurred when
she was a bride of but a few weeks. At Moline August 9, 1850, Mr. Gould
married Miss Hannah M. Dimock, a native of Connecticut and a sister of
Dewitt A. Dimock, who later became Mr. Gould's partner. To this union
five children were born: Alice May and John. who died in infancy : Frank
W., of Moline, Fred G., and Grace Eliza, wife of S. M. Hill of Cleburne,
Source: Biographical History of Rock Island County's
Early Settlers and Leading Business Men.
The above biography is held at
Access Genealogy. Permission
has been granted to republish here.
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