Tuesday, September 22, 2015

How D.H. Byrd's Uncle and Cousins Met G.H. Walker

Abraham (Abe) Ruddell Byrd (born 1851) operated Stephen  Byrd's farm in Jackson County, Mo., at least until 1878, when he began to engage in other business pursuits, particularly flour milling. He and his wife Sallie Hunter Byrd lived in Cape Girardeau in the "bootheel" of Missouri, described as follows:
gum and bald cypress
Before a series of large levees were constructed by the federal government to harness the Mississippi River, its flood waters regularly spilled across much of southeast Missouri. The Missouri Bootheel once was a natural basin to catch all of this water, a swamp unsuitable for any kind of habitation.
Abe Byrd had four sons, the two eldest of whom entered business with their father in 1904. The next eldest, Carlisle Oliver (likely named for the head of Carlisle Training School in Jackson where the older boys received their preparatory education), was almost six years younger than A.R. Jr. and the youngest, Edward Russell, was not born until 1897. By 1910 A.R. had relocated his wife and younger children to San Antonio.

Joseph Hunter Byrd, was at the University of Texas by 1900, where he was elected to the Cactus staff. The second son, A.R. Byrd, Jr., began in 1899, graduating from U.T. in 1903. The brothers then left Austin to take up ranching and mining near El Paso, Texas--on lands in both Old and New Mexico. Returning to Missouri after only a year, the brothers became serious about assisting their father in his two businesses: (1) flour milling; and (2) the sawmill or lumber road business. The mining business in which these elder sons and their younger brothers were involved in is more mysterious and will be dealt with later.

As early as 1900 Abe Byrd had owned Cape County Milling Co. along with a nephew, Ruddell Monroe McCombs, son of his sister, Elizabeth "Betty" Byrd McCombs, who died when her son was only a boy. In 1905 Cape Co. Milling was said to have "luxurious offices" located "near the [Gould-owned] St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway station in the eastern part of Jackson," less than ten miles northwest of Cape Girardeau. After the college-educated sons went into business with him, A.R. Byrd organized the Alsop Process Co. of St. Louis, Inc. to acquire from James N. Alsop flour patents the inventor had obtained from Great Britain in 1904, and subsequently from the United States, covering machinery to bleach flour.

A.R. Jr. worked as sales agent for Alsop, but quickly became an officer within the St. Louis Alsop Process Company. While they began manufacturing the patented machines, they also sold franchises to other flour mills to use the Alsop Process. The company's first St. Louis office in 1904 was on S. 7th Street near railroad loading docks and warehouses, but by 1912, the company had moved its headquarters to the heart of St. Louis' financial district--506 Olive Street, today within the block called Metropolitan Square. Although still associated with the Alsop Process at that time, A.R. Jr. had joined his brother in their own brokerage company at 420 Olive, a block east of the Alsop office. Today the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis takes up the entire block at N. 4th and Locust, only a block to the north. Near their offices was another notable St. Louis stockbroker, G.H. Walker & Co. at 307 N. 7th Street.[1] We will hear more about him below.

Under the corporate name of American Forest Co., Abe Byrd, also owned timber in the swampy area around Cape Girardeau, employing his son J. Hunter Byrd as president. Working in 1911, Byrd met with promoters who wished to construct the "sawmill and lumber" infrastructure of the Portland & Southeastern railway from a point on Gould's St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern railroad in southeastern Arkansas to link with the old Vicksburg, Shreveport & Pacific, as shown in the Engineering and Contracting magazine, Vol. XXXV, No. 15 (at page 32). One court case indicated that American Forest had been incorporated in New York, and that certain financing came from the St. Louis Union Trust Co. Intriguingly, QJ revealed previously that the original builder of the Vicksburg line had been Charles G. Young, ancestor of David Atlee Phillips! [2]

Read full article.
Houck's consolidated system was owned by a syndicate of investors from southeastern Missouri, who sold the St. Louis & Gulf Railroad to the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway (the Frisco) in 1905. As one of Houck's large investors, A. R. Byrd got a tiny Missouri town named for him:
At the urging of Abe R. Byrd, who owned a sizable tract of land south of Senath, Missouri, and in part with Byrd's financial backing, Louis incorporated the Kennett and Osceola Railroad to extend south from Kennett toward Osceola, Arkansas, running roughly parallel to the St. Francis River in the Bootheel's most remote corner. Inside of a year, crews painstakingly carved out a line nearly fifteen miles long through Senath to a junction point with the Paragould and Eastern Railroad that Louis simply called Arbyrd.[3]
Click map to enlarge. See original at website.

American Forest Co.
Houck had therefore managed to build a series of railway lines connecting Cape Girardeau to St. Louis, as one part of a dream that envisioned a railroad which would span from St. Louis directly south to the Gulf of Mexico. Perhaps Abe convinced his eldest son to take over construction where Houck left off, partly we assume because such a project would provide a constant market for railroad ties milled by the American Forest Co.

J. Hunter Byrd, as president of the lumber mill, had become ever more involved in the securities business. Even before 1913, when, according to Louis Houck's biographer, Byrd "stepped forward to help facilitate the sale" of his father's friend's railroad interests. J. Hunter first approached the Goulds' Missouri Pacific without success.

Jay Gould of MoPac had died in 1892, leaving control of his railroad interests in the hands of an inept son, George J. Gould and his crew of advisers, including three directors and numerous executives who lived in St. Louis (E.B. Pryor, Sam F. Pryor, and Charles S. Clarke). When Pryor left St. Louis for the New York area, he rose quickly in the business world, according to Karin Crooks:
(Sam) Frazier Pryor (1865-1934), arrived in Greenwich to start a new career, uprooting his family from their life near St. Louis, Missouri. At 48, Sam Pryor was a self-made man who, after high school, had worked his way up through the railroad supply business to become president of Southern Wheel Company. Sam’s new employer, the family of William Rockefeller (1841-1922), was already established in Greenwich and famous worldwide for its wealth. In his new position as General Manager and Vice President of Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridges Co. (Remington), Sam would report to two bosses: William’s second son, Percy A. Rockefeller (1878-1934), the young head of the family business; and William’s son-in-law, Marcellus (Marcy) Hartley Dodge (1888-1963), the sole stockholder of Remington.
Hunter Byrd then approached the Frisco and, according to biographer, Joel P. Rhodes, he had the following results:
By deftly maneuvering himself into the Frisco camp [composed of B.F. Yoakum, B.L. Winchell and Thomas West], the young entrepreneur ultimately acted as the big railroad's proxy in the execution of a familiar contract with Louis in February 1913. Immediately after consolidating the Gape Girardeau and Thebes Bridge Terminal Railroad, the Chester, Perryville and Ste. Genevieve, and the Saline Valley Railroads into one Cape Girardeau Northern, Houck sold this entire new corporation and all his interest in it to a syndicate headed by J. H. Byrd.[4]
A. R. Byrd, Jr., Secretary
A bond issued by the Cape Giardeau Northern, shown here, contains the signature of A.R. Byrd, Jr. as the secretary. Louis Houck clearly believed that J. Hunter Byrd was acting on behalf of the Frisco Railroad at the time Byrd formed the corporation and merged Houck's lines into it. When, in 1913 the Frisco went into receivership and the receiver refused to take over maintenance of Houck's former railroads, Houck sued on behalf of the bondholders.

The Texas & Pacific at first had leased its existing lines to Jay Gould's Missouri Pacific network, but, after Gould acquired a majority of stock in the T&P in 1885, the two roads simply continued to work together as a system through Gould holdings in both companies.

However, in 1911 the Gould-owned Missouri Pacific made a high-dollar deal with B.F. Yoakum, of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway (Frisco) Company, who then purchased for himself a huge estate in west-central Long Island, New York. Only two years later the Frisco was placed in receivership, with a young man born and reared in St. Louis emerging as a top officer in the creditors' hierarchy. George Herbert (Bert) Walker's career as a railroad man is not nearly as well known as is the career of his namesake given by his daughter to her son, George Herbert Walker Bush after her marriage to Prescott Bush in 1921. But the Walkers had begun to relocate to Long Island as early as 1919, according to Doug Wead's biography of Bert's grandson, The Raising of a President.

The Byrds Fly to Texas

In 1907 A.R. Byrd, Jr. married Elise, a daughter of Hungarian-born engineer, Otto Kochtitzky, who had formed the Little River Drainage District in Southeastern Missouri to drain the wetlands where hardwood cypress proliferated.

Southern Merchant
As a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at the University of Texas, A.R. Jr. may have had contact with its sponsors, Walter Bremond and T.W. Gregory, who were close friends of Colonel Edward M. House, the man who had elected numerous governors in Texas before turning his sights toward electing U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. Alpha Tau Omega sponsor, Thomas Watt Gregory, became Attorney General in 1914 in President Woodrow Wilson's Cabinet, which was mostly hand-picked by Col House. One man selected to work with Wilson's Attorney General in gathering intelligence information was the banker, railroad receiver, G. H. Walker of St. Louis, who was Chief of the St. Louis division of the American Protective League, which reported directly to the Department of Justice.[5] We only mention this fact in passing to show Walker's powerful political and intelligence connections to the Democratic establishment of that era.

Louis Houck "constructed a network of five hundred miles of track through the wilderness of wetlands known as 'Swampeast Missouri'." The first railroad Houck built connected Cape Girardeau to the Iron Mountain Railroad, and by 1902 many of Houck's lines had been sold to the Frisco. Access into the rail network was of great importance to the Byrds, who sought an affordable distribution medium for their processed flour.

As a consequence the value of the lands within the district, including not only Abe Byrd's timber land, but Houck's railroad land as well, increased dramatically, as did the taxes assessed on the land by the drainage district. Louis Houck's railroad sued Kochtitzky's district, contesting its taxing authority. Houck lost in the Missouri Supreme Court in 1911, forcing him to either pay his ever-rising taxes or lose his lands. In desperation Houck sought a buyer for his railroads. Houck was approached by Abe Byrd's eldest son, J. Hunter Byrd, mentioned earlier, who was a financier as well as the brother-in-law of Otto Kochtitzky's daughter, Mrs. A.R. Byrd, Jr., nee Elise Westmore Kochtitzky. (Note: It is possible Houck did not know that Kochtitsky's daughter was in fact the sister-in-law of the man who sought to rescue him from this desperate situation. They did remain married until 1925, when they divorced without children.)

It was a somewhat intricate plan. They set up a new corporation Byrd had formed, Cape Girardeau & Northern Railroad Co., of which Hunter Byrd was president. The new corporation absorbed the five existing railroads through a purchase from Louis Houck, paying for them with proceeds of bonds issued by the new company and guaranteed by the St. Louis & San Francisco (Frisco) Railroad. At least $1,200,000 of the $2,500,000 in bonds were sold to innocent purchasers in reliance upon the guarantee, and it was that fact which influenced the Court in its final decision to hold the railroad liable in the amount of $1,200,000.

However, when Houck had not received payment by February 1914, he sued the Frisco, which had guaranteed the bonds in 1913, which had almost immediately been placed in receivership by its creditors, chief among them being another St. Louis investment banker, George Herbert Walker. One lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and heard in June 1918 (253 F. 123), in which the Frisco intervened to prevent plaintiff, J. M. McElvain, from pursuing a claim against for a debt he claimed predated the appointment of receivers.

Morton & Co., Inc. - 1920
Attorneys for the Frisco included Cravath & Henderson, the firm which a few years later would employ John J. McCloy. It is interesting to note that Carl A. DeGersdorff, a future partner in the firm, was a director of a subsidiary railroad at the same time as G.H. Walker, Benjamin Yoakum and Robert J. Kleberg. Another subsidiary of the Frisco had Walker on the board with lumbermen J. H. Kirby and J. F. Keith of Beaumont. Keith's daughter Olga married Houston oil tycoon Harry C. Wiess.

As early as March 1920 Walker was named as president of Morton and Company, Inc., a Guaranty Trust investment bank subsidiary, along with Averell Harriman, Sam Pryor and Percy Rockefeller.

We will end this segment at this point. Studying the Byrd family's deep roots has helped to reveal something we never dreamed we would find. In hoping to explain how D. Harold Byrd became such a close friend of Lyndon Johnson, instead we learned how closely tied his father's family was to the grandfather of George H.W. Bush. Small world!


1. See also J. Hunter Byrd's biography in St. Louis, the Fourth City, published in 1909.

2. Young had moved to Texas and chartered the Houston and Great Northern railway before his tragic accidental death in 1871. The HGN would later continue to build north in Texas, connecting to the Shreveport line at Mineola, and in 1873 became part of the International & Great Northern Railroad, acquired by Jay Gould in 1880 for his Missouri Pacific Railroad. Gould would also acquire the Texas and Pacific and the St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt) and owned "one-half of the mileage in the Southwest" by the time he died in 1892. Gould's biggest competitor in the region was the Frisco, which attempted to merge in 1922 but the purchase was refused by the ICC.

3. Joel P. Rhodes, A Missouri Railroad Pioneer: The Life of Louis Houck, p. 190University of Missouri Press: "In telling the story of his railroading enterprise, Rhodes chronicles Houck’s battle with the Jay Gould railroad empire and offers key insight into the development of America’s railway system, from the cutthroat practices of ruthless entrepreneurs to the often-comic ineptness of start-up rail lines."

4.  Joel P. Rhodes, A Missouri Railroad Pioneer: The Life of Louis Houck, p. 252.

5. Emerson Hough, The Web (Reilly & Lee Company, 1919), p. 293.]

Monday, August 31, 2015

Red Flags and False Flags

Blog readers have lives separate and apart from the blog writer, leading the readers free simply to wonder only occasionally what is taking so long for the blog to get to the point. This blogger does have a present life, which sometimes intrudes into the musings of past events being researched. Even more significant, however, is the fact that researching those past events often diverts the research into areas the blogger never quite expected it to go. Here's a brief recap:
  • After working for a couple of months on the study of the family of Ruth Hyde Paine for a presentation at the JFK Assassination Conference in Arlington last year, I started a new project tagged "Wayne January's Tale about a Tail Number." The goal was to determine what I could about whether someone was trying to help Lee H. Oswald and his friend Judyth Vary Baker escape to Cozumel, Mexico on the afternoon of November 22, 1963.
  • After publishing Part I of the research, a reader graciously mailed me a package containing the history of the airplane that Wayne January wrote about. It was my analysis of tail Number N-17888's title which led me to look into the history of NAvion Aircraft, a defense plant built at the site of the federal government old North American Aviation field. After WWII ended, the factory came under the ownership of "Texas Engineering and Manufacturing Company, known by its acronym, TEMCO, a company which by 1947 was making B-25 bombers for South American countries."
  • The years between WWII and the Korean War were years that saw contests taking place within large airplane-building corporations as well as single-engine airplane manufacturing. TEMCO was converted into a mega-conglomerate by D. Harold Byrd, working with James Ling, who created Ling-Temco-Vought on the original site of North American Aviation. This was the same company which had a subsidiary which employed the notorious Malcolm Everett (Mac) Wallace, alleged to have been the real shooter who fired from the Texas School Book Depository, effectively framing Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin of JFK.
  • Thus, I began a new line of research, hoping to find a past link between D. Harold Byrd and Mac Wallace. The next segment, "As the Byrd Flies...," set out the research into D. H. Byrd's ancestry, which coincidentally revealed his mother's family's close ties to Vice President John Nance Garner. The next segment about "Admiral Richard Byrd, Jr." connected the true family links, much more distant than first cousins, as D. H. had often implied.
  • The next segment of our research delved into stories about another plane, a "Comanche-type aircraft" boarded by "three men in suits" just over an hour after President Kennedy had been gunned down. From what Merrit Goble, who ran the fixed-wing operation, TexAir, at Red Bird told Louis, Gaudin, the Air Traffic Control Specialist for the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA)--added to other revelations made to investigative reporter Daniel Hopsicker-- conclusions have been made that this plane was flown by Barry Seal, who flew one actual assassin from Red Bird field to Love Field that day. 
  • I was even more intrigued, however, by the fact that Lyndon Johnson's brother-in-law, Birge D. Alexander, "an engineer-executive" at FAA in Fort Worth, according to Life magazine's profile of the new president in August 1964, was promoted to Area Manager for the Southwest Region of the F.A.A., announced in July 1965 in the Amarillo Globe-Times.
I published these last three segments in April, four months ago, but I have continued to try to make sense of where I suspected the research was leading, and of how to introduce it. Intriguingly, in my mind it appeared that, rather than pointing more fingers at LBJ, the material seemed to be pointing to someone in the shadows, using President Johnson as a shield to hide his own misdeeds.

In future posts I will publish the research that leads to the conclusion that ties D. H. Byrd's uncles to a particular railroad network which was expanding into Texas in the early 1900's.

As I learned more about this railroad, one name would appear from time to time that raised a red flag to me.

This name declared:  
Here is the money; follow it. 

That name, of course, was G. H. Walker, father of Dorothy Walker. On August 6, 1921, in Kennebunkport, Maine, he became the father-in-law of Prescott Sheldon Bush. He died, however, in 1953, passing many of his banking secrets down to his son, George Herbert Walker, Jr. We will explore some of these details later.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Would the Real Edward Byrd Please Stand Up

Our search for D. Harold Byrd's father's history has been time consuming, if not actually enlightening. Quite possibly not even Harold himself could have provided answers about his father's past.

Edward Byrd's obituary in 1943 stated:
Midlothian, TX--HEART STROKE TAKES PIONEER ON DALLAS VISIT--Funeral Services Set for Edward Byrd, 88, Oilman's Father. Edward Byrd, 88, Midlothian, long-time resident of Texas and father of D. Harold Byrd, Dallas Oilman and Texas wing commander of the Civil Air Patrol, died of a heart attack here Thursday.

Mr. Byrd was stricken as he walked along St. Paul in front of the Federal Building shortly before noon Thursday and was dead on arrival at Parkland Hospital. A native of Missouri, Mr. Byrd was the grandson of pioneers who had pushed westward in 1799 into Missouri while it still was part of the Louisiana Territory. He was born at the Old Stone House, still standing on Byrd's Creek, Byrd Township, Cape Girardeau County, Mo.

Covered Wagon Traveler.
As a youth of 19, he came to Texas for the first time in 1873 in a covered wagon and stayed at Starkville [sic], Lamar County, two months before returning to Missouri by pony, a trip that required a month. His next trip to Texas was by rail, and he settled at Blossom, Lamar County. There in 1877 he joined the Presbyterian Church, became a ruling elder three weeks later, and since then had represented the church at various times from the assemblies of the Red River Presbytery to the General Assembly.

Owned Early Day Store.

He married, in 1879, Mollie Easley, daughter of a farmer in the community. There he built a small home, and later added a gin and mill, then several houses and finally a store. The community was named Byrd Town [Byrdtown?]. Later he moved his family to Detroit [Texas] where he engaged in the mercantile business for a time, and then in 1901 moved to Ardmore, Oklahoma where he lived until 1913, moving to Midlothian. He and his wife celebrated their golden wedding anniversary there in 1929. In Midlothian he was active in the Presbyterian Church and was chairman of its board of elders, a position he had held for nearly thirty years.

He is survived by his wife, three sons, D. Harold Byrd; R. J. Byrd, Irving; and B. E. Byrd, Midlothian; two daughters, Mrs. R. T. Gidley and Mrs. R. B. McDonald, both of Dallas; seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at the Midlothian Presbyterian Church, with Dr. Jasper Manton, pastor of the Trinity Presbyterian Church of Dallas, officiating. Years ago while Dr. Manton's father was pastor of a Presbyterian Church at Paris, Dr. Manton was ordained there and later became pastor of the same church. Mr. Byrd attended Dr. Manton's ordination service and many years ago requested that he conduct his funeral.

Burial will be at 4:30 p.m. in the family burial plot at Blossom. Pallbearers will be Tom H. Dees [for many years
chairman of the board of directors of Republic National Bank, Dallas], W.H. Price, J.P. Sewell, J.G. Oliver, R R. McElroy and Dr. H.G. Williams, all of Midlothian. (Source: Dallas Morning News, January 8, 1943)
D.H. Byrd suggested in his 1978 autobiography  (with research assistance from Mickey Herskowitz, among others) that his father was "likely" the same "Edward Byrd" involved in the discovery of an oil well in the Indian Territory near Chelsea. It is the attempt to either verify or refute that claim which has led this blogger into a study of Oklahoma history and the Indian Territory, despite which effort a question still remains. After revealing the results of my research, I leave it to the reader to form his or her own conclusion.

Oil Prospector Edward Byrd

One Byrd genealogist posted specific details about the Edward Byrd who found oil near Chelsea in northeast Oklahoma in a public family tree at Ancestry.com:

Clues in the above story help to establish the following facts:
  1. Edward Byrd incorporated a company in Kansas, and in 1891 he began to prospect for oil on Cochran property
  2. United States Oil Company ultimately drilled eleven wells in the area, the output of which was carried from the well through a pipeline running downhill to the Frisco side track in Chelsea. 
  3. In 1893 this drilling company was reorganized as Cherokee Oil & Gas Company (CO&G), which drilled 14 wells before passage of the Curtis Bill in 1898. 
  4. Oil production ceased at that point until treaties with the Indian nations could be put in place. CO&G first applied in June 1901 for a drilling lease covering 98,000 acres through the Department of the Interior, an action opposed by the Cherokee Nation because, according to the attorney for the Cherokees in documents filed with the court in October 1901, CO&G was "alleged to be a branch of the Standard Oil Company."
  5. "Ed. Byrd" had been the fourth mayor of Chelsea in the days prior to statehood, according to a "condensed history" of the "thriving town" set out in Chelsea Commercial newspaper in Oklahoma, possibly the same politically minded Edward Byrd who in 1906 announced as candidate for delegate to Oklahoma's Constitutional Convention. The agreement dissolving the Creek Nation became law on June 25, 1901, and tribe members were granted U.S. citizenship. Within a few years, the Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory were combined into one state and admitted to statehood. Ed Byrd was an alternate delegate to the Statehood Convention held in 1903.
  6. 1900 and 1910 census records show an Edward Byrd, born in about 1845, living in Chelsea but conflict concerning his birthplace: 1900 census gives Indiana; 1910 census gives Missouri. 
  7. In 1910 Byrd's name appeared on the same census page with widow Elizabeth Byrd's large family, all of whom worked in an oil production company. Elizabeth's deceased husband, Lafayette Byrd, had been the brother of an Edward Byrd from Roane County, Tennessee.
The oil company founder had married a half-Cherokee Indian named Jane Nelms, who had been born born in the Indian Territory in 1855, and their two children were born in Chelsea: Henry Harrison Byrd in 1877, who died in Abilene, Texas in 1945; and Daisy Dean Byrd in 1879. Jane Byrd died intestate in 1910, and in October of that same year Edward Byrd deeded their Cherokee-allotted land to daughter Daisy Byrd Corah, the wife of 28-year-old Edward Milton Corah, who was listed in 1910 census records as a single man engaged in oil refining in Chelsea, and both he and his brother Edgar Leroy Corah had come west from Warren, Pennsylvania, where they had worked for what would become a division of the Pure Oil Company, controlled by the Dawes family, who were also heavily involved in the commission set up by President Grover Cleveland in 1888 to oversee the Indian lands previously set aside by treaties in what would become Oklahoma. Strangely enough, Edward Corah was in 1913 engaged to be married to a different woman in his hometown.

As part of the Dawes Commission we find in the Memorial of the Delaware Indians (Cherokee Nation) that hearings took place in 1903 relating to segregation of certain lands to members of the Cherokee Nation. Daisy D. Byrd, as a part-Cherokee Indian, was allotted lands she chose (see page 24). Edward Byrd claimed other lands on behalf of his wife Jane, who had asthma as was unable to testify (at page 31). Ed. Byrd (aka Edward H. Byrd) also witnessed a deed executed in 1899 by Henry H. Byrd, Jr. of lands Henry had selected as his allotted acreage (see page 46). As a notary public Edward Byrd also witnessed other deeds (pages 53, 59). Note: The Edward Byrd from Tennessee had a brother named Henry Harrison Byrd, for whom he named his son. Daisy Byrd Corah's husband incorporated a plethora of companies in the area, one of which was Bernice Oil Co. in 1913 with millionaire, John T. Milliken, who lived at 35 Portland Place in St. Louis. A chemist in control of a mouthwash company called Pasteurine, Milliken was more notable as the brother-in-law of Albert Patrick, the Texas attorney who wrote a second will for railroad financier William Marsh Rice, murdered in 1900. Milliken spent much of his fortune attempting to prove Patrick innocent of the crime.

Mrs. E.M. Corah, (Daisy?) in 1913 was present with other "society people" at the wedding of her friend Maude Greer to Harry Swarts. After their marriage the Swarts moved to Tulsa, where Harry worked as an attorney while Maude had her own tea shop/cafe. Also present were several attorneys: William Thomas Rye, who had a probate practice in Vinita, and "Uncle Jack" Kendall, gave away the bride. E.M. had connections to Vinita Refining Co., built in 1910, and his brother Edgar was also in the refining business, and would spend at least the last two decades of his life working in San Antonio, Texas. Edward and Daisy did relocated to Houston around 1920, when he was named manager and vice president of Transatlantic Refining Company's new plant built at Houston Heights Blvd. at Washington Avenue by Hugh Hamilton, a brewing and hotel magnate, who was a client of the Baker & Botts law firm.

Further documentation suggests that the Kansas prospector named Ed. Byrd, referred to in Endangered Species, lived in  Chelsea as early as May 1884, owning a Chelsea boarding house in 1889, the same year he began "boring for oil, coal or something."
Edward Byrd of Ardmore, OK

According to D.H. Byrd, his father moved from Texas to Ardmore, Oklahoma, in 1901 two years before statehood was approved. Ardmore had first opened up to white settlement when the Santa Fe Railroad began building north from Gainesville, Texas in 1885 across the Indian country, establishing towns as it went.

In his autobiography at page 6, Harold Byrd bragged that his father in Texas had established a town called "Byrd Town," south of Blossom in Lamar County, which was totally destroyed by a "raging fire." It was the fire, Byrd says, that prompted Ed to move the family to Ardmore, Oklahoma, probably in 1901. However, we have not been able to verify that a fire occurred or that Ed Byrd was founder of such a town, which was actually called Byrdtown.

It can be confirmed, however, that in Ardmore Ed did temporarily agree to operate the Crown Bottling corporation and a candy factory after the owner, Morgan J. Hays, died in 1910. (See clipping to the left.)

That year's Ardmore city directory showed Ed Byrd having a real estate office, involved with farm and  "mining" lands, located at 17-1/2 N. Washington, while he resided at 439 H Street, N.W., a less than impressive neighborhood. We know from the Ardmoreite news that Ed in 1906 had an interest in rock asphalt mines in nearby Overbrook, OK, which he used to make asphalt bricks for paving roads.

The same year Ed Byrd acquired his asphalt mines, he sent son Ruddell Jones Byrd (called "Leo," for unapparent reasons) to San Antonio's Peacock Military Academy, where he received awards along with fellow student Dolph Briscoe, Sr. , a man whose son would later become a most unassuming Governor of the State of Texas.

After graduation, Leo began working in Missouri, overseeing properties owned by an uncle, one of Ed's brothers pictured at the top of this page. While young Ed Byrd had been off in Texas and the Indian Territory, his brothers had continued their farming and other enterprises in Missouri, though both eventually followed his lead, relocating to Texas. As we saw in a previous post, A.R. Byrd took his flour milling process to San Antonio and settled for a time in the King William district of that city, while William C. Byrd moved to southwest Texas. Their  move only occurred, however, at the instigation of their sons, who had reached adulthood and took their fathers into investments in what was then believed to be the transportation technology of the future.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Follow the Yellow Brick Road (Part I)

Years ago the author of this blog, Quixotic Joust, Linda Minor, published a long, winding treatise about her analysis of the world based upon  historical research she conducted, called "Follow the Yellow Brick Road: From Harvard to Enron." What follows is an edited excerpt.

Part I: 
  From Cutthroat Competition,
to Charity, to World Government--
The Morgan Syndicate 

By Linda Minor ©2000

Professor Carroll Quigley states that the Rhodes Trust controlled huge amounts of capital which the trustees had the obligation to invest for the purposes set out in the Rhodes Will, including "the extension of British rule throughout the world ...[and] the ultimate recovery of the United States of America as an integral part of a British Empire." Such purposes required the utmost secrecy. 

Rhodes wrote his first Will in 1877 (final one written in 1899), so we know his goal was already in the working stages by those at Oxford who motivated him at the time. The ultimate trustees were close to Oxford University, having been ingrained with the same devotion to the perpetuation of the Empire, through chartered companies like Rhodes' British South Africa Company and Hudson's Bay Company, which returned a high percentage of profit to the British Government.[See Marvin Perry, Sources of the Western Tradition: Volume II: From the Renaissance to the Present.

The trustees, who had control of Rhodes' gold and diamond mines, already had their eye on the oil that had been discovered in Pennsylvania in 1859. According to Eustace Mullins, in The Rockefeller Syndicate, the Rothschilds banks, which controlled 95% of American railroads through their agents, sent Jacob Schiff of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. to John D. Rockefeller, who had ruthlessly acquired control of 95% of American oil refineries. They worked out an elaborate rebate deal for Rockefeller, through a dummy corporation, South Improvement Company. These rebates ensured that no other oil company could survive in competition with the Rockefeller firm.

Investments were then made through secret nominees with the aim of acquiring control for the British Empire of what was then the most strategic resources throughout the world, including the old colonial empire in the Americas. Loans made to finance new business in the United States may have been conditioned on the borrower's agreement to set up a charitable foundation upon death or retirement, and the assets of the foundation would then be placed in the hands of trustees approved by the Rhodes group. Thus the trust would be administered in accordance with the goals set out by Rhodes in his will. This scheme was followed until after the end of World War I and the decade leading into the second World War. By that time Americans began to believe they could replace European investors with their own home-grown banking establishment, whose investments in the petroleum industry was superseding the need for foreign investments.

Thomas A. Scott

As it turns out, South Improvement Co. was a holding company scheme designed in 1871 by Pennsylvania Railroad magnate, Thomas A. Scott. South Improvement Company was a secret alliance between the railroads and a select group of large refiners aimed at stopping "destructive" price-cutting and restoring freight charges to a profitable level. According to the pact, the railroads would raise their rates, but would agree to pay rebates to Rockefeller and other large refiners, thus securing their steady business. In addition, the latter were to receive the proceeds of the "drawbacks" levied on nonmembers, who as a result would end up paying much higher prices for their shipments of oil. 

In April of 1872, the South Improvement Company's charter was repealed by the Pennsylvania legislature before it had even conducted a single transaction. Eager to consolidate the refining industry, Rockefeller set out to eliminate what he called "ruinous" competition from his most immediate rivals. In less than six weeks, between February and March of 1872, he used the threat of the big new alliance and a sophisticated range of tactics to buy up 22 of his 26 Cleveland competitors.

Scott was first-vice-president of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company in 1860, and served as president from 1874 until 1880. Scott's allies pushed through the Pennsylvania state legislature a series of bills creating the nation's first pure holding companies--two of which were the Pennsylvania Company and the Southern Railway Security Company. The Southern Railway Security Company held the stock of the southern feeder route for the Pennsylvania that Scott envisioned, to stretch from Washington, D.C. to the Mississippi River. The company had been purchased from James Roosevelt (FDR's father) in 1873--just seven years before Roosevelt married into the Delano family of "former" opium traders. 

Andrew Carnegie

Scott's assistant until 1865 was Andrew Carnegie, who left the Pennsylvania Railroad to start his own company, but who maintained his ties to the railroad. In 1875 Carnegie founded his first steel plant, the Edgar Thomson Works, in Braddock, Pennsylvania. The plant was named for the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which was his first customer; he made 2,000 steel rails for the Pennsylvania Railroad. 

In 1901 Carnegie sold his entire company to J.P. Morgan for $480 million, allowing Morgan to create US Steel. Morgan would have been acting in this transaction as an agent for investors, but we do not know whose money he used to purchase Carnegie's stock. With his proceeds from the sale Carnegie established the Carnegie Institution to provide research for American colleges and universities. 

Daniel Coit Gilman

The first president of Carnegie's new institution was Daniel Coit Gilman, trained at Norwich Academy, who had entered Yale in 1848, forming an intimate friendship with his fellow student, Andrew Dickson White. In 1852, had Gilman studied for a few months at Harvard College, living in the home of Prof. Arnold Guyot, a Swiss national educated in Berlin. Gilman and White sailed the following year to Europe as attach├ęs of the American legation at St. Petersburg, Russia; he also spent the winter of 1855 in Germany. For the next seventeen years, his life revolved around Yale. 

According to Antony Sutton, Gilman's first task in 1856 was to incorporate Skull & Bones as a legal entity under the name of The Russell Trust. Gilman became Treasurer and William H. Russell, who had been the co-founder with Alfonso Taft (the father of president William Howard Taft) in 1832, became President. Russell received permission to form a chapter of the German secret society, while he was studying for a year in Germany.

Gilman became president of the University of California in 1872 and of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in 1875. As a result of the Panic of 1893, dividends were suspended on the common stock in the the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (founded by George Brown of Baltimore), which stock composed the bulk of the university's endowment. The railroad was bought out of 1896 bankruptcy by the Pennsylvania Railroad. Gilman remained in Baltimore until the 1890s. It is interesting to note that the B&O was largely financed initially by Barings Bank, which issued 6% bonds worth 1 million pounds sterling before 1880. The B&O also sold 2 million pounds of its securities through J.S. Morgan's London office and almost that many more at a reduced price a few years later--still before 1880. Most of the B&O creditors, therefore, were British, and they demanded that the interest on the bonds be guaranteed by Barings and Morgan.

By March 1896, according to railroad financing historian, Dorothy R. Adler:
J.S. Morgan; Brown, Shipley; and Baring Brothers, Ltd. announced that they had agreed to cooperate to protect the British holders of securities issued through their houses [according to Burdett's].... On the other hand, the Economist commented on this announcement:
In many instances, however, the protection thus accorded to English holders of American railroad securities has been a very costly piece of business, and has materially added to the losses which the general proprietary bodies have had to sustain. Of course, we do not expect issuing houses to work for nothing, but there is a moral responsibility attaching to their position which should weigh with them, and induce them to use their best endeavours in the protection of the interests which they have helped to create, without reference to the fees to which their services may entitle them. And when these services are volunteered, there is all the more reason why their cost should be kept within moderate limits. [Source: Dorothy R. Adler, British Investment in American Railways: 1834-1898, p. 164.] 
A partial list of notable trustees of Andrew Carnegie's Institute, listed alphabetically, reveals the names of the most well-known men appointed. In 1910 Carnegie created another group called the Endowment for International Peace. This was a forerunner to Woodrow Wilson's vision of a League of Nations which eventually became the United Nations. The international problems to be settled were disputes over territory, claims and monetary crises presented to the businessmen who conducted trade across national boundaries. The names marked by an asterisk had participated in some way or inherited their wealth from trade in opium or the China trade:
Robert O. Anderson, 1976–1983; 
Robert S. Brookings, 1910–1929; 
Vannevar Bush, 1958–1971; 
*Frederic A. Delano, 1927–1949; 
Cleveland H. Dodge, 1903–1923; 
Simon Flexner, 1910–1914; 
*W. Cameron Forbes, 1920–1955; 
James Forrestal, 1948–1949; 
Hanna H. Gray, 1974–1978; 
*Henry L. Higginson, 1902–1919; 
Ethan A. Hitchcock, 1902–1909; 
Herbert Hoover, 1920–1949; 
*Henry Cabot Lodge, 1914–1924; 
Alfred L. Loomis, 1934–1973; 
Robert A. Lovett, 1948–1971; 
*Seth Low, 1902–1916; 
Andrew W. Mellon, 1924–1937; 
William W. Morrow, 1902–1929; 
Walter H. Page, 1971–1979; 
James Parmelee, 1917–1931; 
William Barclay Parsons, 1907–1932; 
John J. Pershing, 1930–1943; 
David Rockefeller, 1952–1956; 
Elihu Root, 1902–1937; 
Elihu Root, Jr., 1937–1967; 
William H. Taft, 1906–1915; 
William S. Thayer, 1929–1932; 
Juan T. Trippe, 1944–1981; 
Andrew Dickson White, 1902–1916.
When the stock market crashed in 1929, more than a decade after the the Federal Reserve System act was passed by Congress in 1913, the same year John Pierpont Morgan died, another group of financiers stepped in to buy up the major stockholders in the private banking system. Their actions would usher in a totally different emphasis on the direction the United States was to take in investment and in what "charities" would be rewarded in future years.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

As the Byrd Flies--Virginia to Texas

In a previous post we discussed D.H. Byrd's claim that he was a cousin of Admiral Richard Byrd, Jr., the Polar explorer of the 1930's and made only a possible connection to a common ancestor 300 years or so earlier. Admiral Byrd's line of descent seems to have no other common links to the line from which D.H. Byrd stemmed. D. H. Byrd's heritage is traced below from his ancestor Andrew down to Abraham Ruddell Byrd, who died in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in 1857:

To Cape Girardeau, Mo. in 1799
D.H.'s branch of Byrds arrived in Missouri in 1797, before that territory (then called Upper Louisiana) became part of the Louisiana Purchase. Amos and Sarah Ruddell Byrd were progenitors of the clan which had started out in disputed territory of the Watauga Valley near the Proclamation Line of 1763. Heading west, they crossed the line into what is now Knox County, Tennessee and settled there long enough for three of Amos' sons to find wives among a family named Gillespie. Amos' family, including Stephen and Abraham, were born in Knox County 1768 and 1772, respectively. They remained there until almost the end of the century before the entire family headed west for the Spanish territory. They acquired land grants from Spain near what was to become Cape Girardeau County, Missouri.

Unfortunately for the settlers, however, in 1800 Spain ceded the land to France shortly after the Byrds arrived there, so they were forced to prove the validity of their land grants after the United States purchased the land from Napoleon in 1803.

Author Louis Houck, 1908, page 185
We are told that the Byrd men became prominent in the government of the area--Amos as a judge, Abraham and Stephen as colonels in military regiments. Amos and Sarah died in 1818. Sarah's maiden name, however, would continue to be passed down to descendants, including D.H. Byrd's eldest brother, Ruddell Jones Byrd (called R.J., or Leo), who was born in 1888.

Stephen died in 1830, and his brother, Abraham Byrd, remained in Missouri until his death in 1857. Abraham had a son born in 1815, whom he named Stephen, and it is through that ancestor that D. H. Byrd springs.

From Missouri to Texas after 1900

Continuation of D.H. Byrd ancestry, indicating his mother's family link to John Nance Garner. Click to enlarge.
Stephen Byrd II married Nancy Moore in 1844 and farmed his land in Missouri until his death occurred in 1866, leaving their two youngest sons--Abraham (born 1852) and Edward (born 1854) --along with some daughters, as orphans, their mother having died in 1861. Edward was then only 12, but he had his oldest brother, William, to look after him. In his autobiography published in 1978, D. Harold Byrd stated that Edward had set out for Clarksville, Texas, in a covered wagon in 1873. After exploring the destination for awhile, he returned home on a horse and prepared to move permanently --relocating to Blossom Prairie and a settlement four miles south of it called Byrdtown.

William Charles Byrd (born 1845) married Mary Jane Evans at the age of 23, just as the civil war was waning. Three of his sons relocated after 1900 to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, later enticing their parents to move to this promised vegetable-growing  paradise in Dimmit County at Winter Haven, situated between Crystal City and Carrizo Springs (Zavala County), just above the border with Mexico.What could have possessed them to move to that part of Texas at that particular time?

Most likely it was a railroad advertisement that prompted the move, such as this one which appeared in 1907:

Herbert Hurd of Kansas City, Mo. was promoting his Texas lands near South Padre Island that year from his office in the original Union Depot (built in 1878 and demolished in 1915), by advertising in magazines such as the Western Fuit-grower. He gave prospective purchasers a ride from Kansas City on his private railway car parked at Union Depot to view the land which would later become a citrus paradise. Real estate all over the region had been skyrocketing in price ever since the railroads arrived in the most southern regions of Texas.

At some point around 1901, Ed Byrd moved from Detroit, Texas to Ardmore, Oklahoma--which at that time was still part of the Indian Territory, having been opened up in the 1880's to homesteaders. The local newspaper in the latter city declared on June 13, 1901:
Ed Byrd, Bob Easley and F. C. Dollins [Ed and F.C. were married to Easley sisters, and Bob Jones Easley was married to Ida Dollins] from Detroit, Texas, are prospecting in the city.
Ed Byrd married Mollie Easley.
Mollie's brother, Robert Jones Easley, married Ida Dollins.
Ida's brother, Francis Clinton Dollins, married Maggie Easley, sister of Mollie and Bob Jones Easley. Another sister, Linna Easley, in 1891 married David Erastus Waggoner (no relation to Dan Waggoner, the rancher), a Dallas banker and insurance executive, who ran for governor as a Republican in 1934.

On October 10, 1905 an item appeared in the Ardmore, Oklahoma Ardmoreite:
A. R. Byrd and William Byrd of Jackson, Mo., accompanied by their nephew, E.R. Byrd of St. Louis, have been in the city the guests of their brother, Ed Byrd. These gentlemen have made considerable investments here and have gone to West Texas to see about their business interests there.
S.A., Uvalde & Gulf RR, 1918
We learn of their investments in West Texas from an item that appeared in the San Antonio press in 1918 (see clipping at left).

Three Byrd men (A.R., William, Jr., and E.R. Byrd) in 1918 were directors of a short line that became part of the Missouri Pacific in 1925--the San Antonio, Uvalde & Gulf Railroad. Two years earlier directors and officers of this railroad, with offices in San Antonio, were listed on page 481 of the 1916 Official Railway Equipment Register. The preceding page shows officials of four other Gulf Coast Lines. Then at page 482 another Gulf Coast Line branch is shown--the St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico, with offices in Kingsville, Texas.

Two of the Byrds' fellow directors--Buckingham and Groos--were real estate promoters and were mentioned in a book by Beatriz de la Garza, A Law for the Lion: A Tale of Crime and Injustice in the Borderlands, published in 2009. De la Garza describes Crystal City as being in 1917 a "modern, 'planned community,' barely ten years old." It was one of the "new towns, created out of the old ranches, the Cross S:
See also a 1910 ad  and 1911 ad for Cross S ranch lands.
The International and Great Northern railroad, part of the Gould system, in 1906 had begun building a 45-mile extension in Southwest Texas, from Carrizo Springs to Artesia, through the heart of the "Bermuda onion belt." This railroad (sometimes called the Artesian Belt) went into receivership in 1914, possibly a result of overextending itself into less populated areas with little traffic. Thus these uncles and cousins of D. Harold Byrd, while young Harry was still in short pants, were making inroads into an industrial network of railroad tycoons who would later play politics as though it were an untuned violin.

We will pick up there in the next post.