Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Just Hanging out Together: The Presidents Bush Part VI

See previous segments of The Presidents Bush at this blog:

Part I                    Part II                            Part III                          Part IV                         Part V

G. H. Walker's Whitney Connection

George Herbert (Bert) Walker reached his maturity in St. Louis Society during the 1890's--the Gilded Age. International trade was on the gold standard; therefore, Europeans who held credits in dollars could demand to exchange them for gold. Foreign investors in American stocks and bonds would receive dividends and interest in dollars, which could then be converted into gold. There was more gold being shipped out than there was coming in, and banks, consequently, were constantly having to locate new sources to replace the gold reserves that backed the paper currency. 
These were the decades that followed the destruction of the second Bank of the United States and before creation of the Federal Reserve, when bank panics occurred without warning on the average of every seven years. Foreign investors felt it would be less than prudent to rely on American currency to retain its value sitting idly in their accounts.

Wealthy professional members of established American families attempted to create the means of counteracting the periodic instability of the economy by establishing a secret society at Yale in 1832.

Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, elected to two non-consecutive terms during the last two decades of that century, made the gold drain his biggest campaign issue--how to keep gold reserves which backed American currency from being shipped across the ocean into the pockets of Europeans who had invested in American paper (stocks and bonds). This gold-drain issue was explained in our sister blog, Where the Gold Is but supplemented below.

August Belmont, Rothschilds Agent

A Prussian banker who had worked for Rothschild Bank in Frankfurt, August (Schoenberg) Belmont, had been sent by his employer to look into its loans in Cuba in 1837. When his ship arrived in the New York port in May, he learned of massive bank failures, including that of Rothschild's former agent in Philadelphia, R & J Phillips, and its current agents--in Baltimore, J.I. Cohen Jr., and in New York, J.L. & S. Josephs. Instead of sailing to Cuba, he opened an office at 78 Wall Street in New York City. This unauthorized action somewhat irritated the London house of Rothschild which had, in 1834, been "awarded the commission to represent United States' banking interests in Europe, hitherto in the hands of Baring Bros."  Presumably, the commission came from President Andrew Jackson's administration.

In July, the Paris branch acknowledged to newspapers that a new bank was being set up in New York for Rothschilds, without announcing its name. Internal letters from the time are quoted by Niall Ferguson in his book, The House of Rothschild: Volume 1: Money's Prophets: 1798-1848, indicating James Rothschild's distrust of Belmont's ability: "He is a stupid young man….Such an ass needs to be kept on a short leash."

August Belmont was allowed to represent Rothschilds in New York under his own name. He became an American citizen in 1844 and for several years represented the commercial interests of the Austrian Hapsburg empire as consul in the New York region. During these years he made the acquaintance of John Slidell, Jr.,  a New York cotton broker with business connections in Natchez and New Orleans. 
Slidell's father had operated a candle and soap factory at 50 Broadway before his death in 1804. In The Old Merchants of New York City, the author, using the pseudonym Walter Barrett, called John Slidell Jr. "the future ex-senator, Rebel Minister, and so forth".

Frank Leslie, writing in 1862, with an equally sardonic twist of wit, described Slidell as the "Louisianan Gothamite," whose Machiavelism was "cunning almost to the verge of wisdom," a trait that led President Andrew Jackson to nominate him as United States Attorney in New Orleans. 
Slidell was elected to Congress from Louisiana in 1842, and from that position received an appointment as envoy to Mexico in an attempt to avoid war over Texas. Following that failure, he linked up with his old pal Senator Mason of New York to become the "Cardinal Richelieu of the present gigantic Secession"--otherwise known as the "Trent Affair".

Sen. John Slidell of Louisiana
By 1849, when Belmont married Caroline Slidell Perry, he had become extremely wealthy--wealthy enough to bestow on his bride and her family what was then a huge dowry (inset above left).

Caroline's uncle, John Slidell, Jr. was yet to become a U.S. Senator from Louisiana. Her mother, the former Jane Slidell, had married a brother of the noted naval officer Oliver Hazard Perry--Matthew Calbraith Perry--both men sons of yet another naval officer who sailed "on the Havanna station." 
The elder Perry enlisted his services for the cause of the revolution, and was rewarded with a commission in the newly named United States Navy, for which his sons fought in the war of 1812. Oliver was destined to die after receiving accolades as the "hero of the battle of Lake Erie".

At the time Belmont began his banking business in New York his future bride was living in New York with her parents, then Captain Matthew Calbraith Perry and his wife (formerly Jane Slidell). Matthew Perry was promoted to command of the Brooklyn Navy Yard from 1841-43, and during this time was in charge of training young naval recruits. It was his decision to name Alexander Slidell, his wife's brother, to command a shakedown cruise for the USS Somers, to test it before its initial official voyage.

Alexander--who had only recently taken the last name Mackenzie to gain an inheritance from a maternal uncle--would be the first to cause a national incident that would bring the Slidell name into question. He ordered the execution for mutiny of John Spencer, 19-year-old son of the United States Secretary of War in the Cabinet of President Tyler.

Employed for two years with the African Squadron to suppress the slave trade under a treaty with Great Britain, Matthew Perry patrolled the coast of west Africa until the annexation of Texas precipitated a war with Mexico, in which he served under Commodore John Rodgers.

Only two years after giving his daughter in marriage to Belmont, then-Commodore Perry was the naval officer selected to open Japan to trade with the west, two decades after two British opium wars opened up China.

The first August Belmont died in 1890, and his son, August II, succeeded him. One part of the Democrats' solution was to create a superior naval fleet, financed by public corporations selling stocks in electric street railways.  William Collins Whitney was the prime mover in this endeavor. 
Cartoonists had a heyday, connecting Belmont, chairman of the National Democratic Committee,  to Rothschild and thence to President Grover Cleveland. Alexander Hamilton's notion of creating a national bank had long since been destroyed by Andrew Jackson's privatization scheme. One of the least anti-Semitic of the cartoons showed Great Britain as an octopus labeled "Rothschilds" grasping the world in its tentacles.

The Perry Genes

Matthew's father, Christopher Raymond Perry (1761– 1818), a naval officer who fought in the revolution, was also the father of Oliver Hazard Perry, and his father was Judge James Freeman Perry.  Nathan Perry, was the son of "Judge" Nathan Perry, who arrived at Black River, Ohio, in 1804 to begin a trade with Indians. One of Christopher's sisters was Mary Perry, the wife of Henry B. Payne of Ohio, while their common parents were Freeman Perry and his wife Mercy Hazard, daughter of Oliver Hazard. Therefore, the descendants of Flora Perry Payne, wife of William Collins Whitney, became tangentially related to the Belmonts through marriage to a Perry.

A horse racing enthusiast, W. C. Whitney had a Long Island estate where he bred horses, not far from the stables of August Belmont, who founded The Jockey Club in New York in 1894 along the lines of the the high society club in England.

Helen Hay Whitney
Whitney and Belmont together financed the construction of a horse-racing park at Saratoga, and Belmont II, as chairman of the Jockey Club, was entrusted with appointments to the New York Racing Commission which he also chaired until his death in 1924.

After 1924 Belmont Park, founded as a memorial to his father, was managed by the Westchester Racing Association headed by W. C. Whitney's grandsons--either John Hay Whitney or Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, sons respectively of W. Payne Whitney and Harry Payne Whitney, alternated in oversight of Westchester.

In 1925 Bert Walker was appointed to the state racing commission by Democratic Governor Al Smith. Walker had recently formed a partnership in Log Cabin Stud with Averell Harriman by acquiring the late August Belmont's stable. The Belmont mansion on Long Island's Old Westbury Road appears on the same page of the 1930 census as Walker's, which was listed at Wheatley Hills Road. It was also in the same vicinity as Harry Payne Whitney's mansion and stable. It was no accident that St. Louis banker and railroad receiver George Herbert (call me Bert) Walker landed at that precise location at the same time he joined with other investors in the Morgan-connected Guaranty Trust.

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
By 1898 Belmont and Whitney (both Democrats who had bankrolled Grover Cleveland) had succeeded in building up the American naval fleet, which had become strong enough to contest the Spanish in Cuba and the Philippines. American capitalists had reason to believe there were sufficient gold reserves stored in the Philippines that could be used to back U.S. currency for the future. John Hay, Secretary of State under President McKinley, supervised the treaty to end the Spanish-American War, and he formulated the Open Door policy.

Hay's daughter Helen, in 1902, was literally given in marriage to one of W.C. Whitney’s sons, William Payne Whitney (Skull and Bones 1898), whose elder brother, Harry Payne Whitney (Skull and Bones 1894), married Gertrude Vanderbilt, a somewhat less comely daughter of America's wealthiest Democrat of that day, Cornelius Vanderbilt II. The two Whitney brothers owned large estates on Long Island near each other, where they and their spouses and children were primarily interested in racing horses and playing polo at nearby Meadowbrook in Old Westbury.


Several years ago the author of Quixotic Joust posted at a sister blog, Where the Gold Is, a piece about a Texas banking family (Swenson) who had been involved in financing cattle enterprises in the Texas panhandle with investors from Scotland who also were involved in cattle deals in South Texas with the King Ranch family, the Klebergs. The Swensons became wealthy enough to move to New York and acquire an interest in the National City Bank, now known as Citigroup. James Stillman, son of Texas rancher Charles Stillman of South Texas and Connecticut, also owned a large block of stock in that same bank. 

Swenson also was instrumental in founding Freeport Sulphur, which, as many JFK assassination researchers will recognize, had mysterious ties to the plots against Castro and Kennedy in the 1960's. This sulphur company also had strong financial ties to the John Hay "Jock" Whitney, grandson of W. C. Whitney, as Lisa Pease long ago pointed out.

In the next segment, we will explain how Prescott Bush's father-in-law rose from his roots among the super-rich capitalists of Saint Louis, Missouri to settle among the super-wealthy Democrats in Long Island, New York. The wealth he managed for these Missouri millionaires was in danger of being lost when Bert stepped forward to represent them, rescuing their investments by combining the railroad they had built into what would long be known as the Gulf Coast Line, linking Texas rail lines to New Orleans and St. Louis.

The Brownsville Syndicate of St. Louis

The fourth of five sons of  St. Louis dry goods wholesaler D. D. Walker, Bert was something of a playboy in his youth, playing polo and golf with illustrious members of  St. Louis' wealthy, exclusive community.[1] After he married a member of the prominent Wear family and opened his investment firm, his prosperity continued to rise as more and more family members and friends sought his brokerage company's expertise.

In 1909 Lulu's brother, James Hutchinson (Jim) Wear, Jr. Yale's football quarterback from the class of 1901, married Ellen Douglas Filley, whose father, John Dwight Filley, was eldest son of Oliver Dwight Filley., one of St. Louis' early pioneers. Oliver Dwight Filley had made his way in 1829 from Hartford County, Connecticut, where their father, a tinsmith, had trained his sons to make decorative tinware. Giles Franklin Filley followed his older brother to St. Louis in 1834.

The first marriage that linked Bert Walker to the Filley family had occurred in 1900, when his brother, David Davis Walker, Jr., married Louise Garneau Filley, who had been a close friend of Bert's wife, the former Lulu Wear, a hostess in at Louise's debutante ball in 1897, which Bert and his brother Sid attended. Louise's father was the sixth son of Giles Filley, giving the two Filley girls a common great-grandfather back in Connecticut.

Oliver, who had been elected mayor of St. Louis in 1858 and became a powerful force in the city, died in 1881, survived by his widow Chloe Filley and three sons and three daughters. The eldest child was John Dwight Filley (born 1835), who lived at 40 Westmoreland Place as early as 1902. Vice-president of the St. Louis Union Trust Company beginning in 1891, he was president by 1909, at the same time Bert's second eldest brother (J. Sidney Walker) was assistant treasurer.[2] Also on the St. Louis Union Trust board of directors that year sat Benjamin F. Yoakum, chairman of the Frisco Railroad, the man responsible for putting together what became known as the "Brownsville Syndicate."

Yoakum signed on to the plan to build a railroad from Houston to Brownsville in 1902--a project initially inspired by the King Ranch (King and Kleberg) family who gave 75,000 aces of their land for the railroad--to be constructed by Uriah Lott:
In 1902 Lott approached Benjamin F. Yoakum, the president of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad, known affectionately as the Frisco Railway. For years in the past Yoakum had been Lott’s right hand man. They recalled that 15 years earlier [1887] Lott had broached the subject of extending the railroad from Alice to Brownsville, but this latter city never came up with any financing. Lott now rationalized that in addition to the cattle to be hauled there was good land to be opened to agriculture. Yoakum picked up the ball, formed a syndicate.

It wasn’t only land dedicated by South Texans (mainly ranchers) that allowed the formation and success of this railroad company but big bucks from seventy-two subscribers in all finally swung the deal, and St. Louis financiers headed the list. It was the St. Louis Union Trust Company which in 1903 came forward with $400,000. Its individual officers signed up for almost a similar amount. Construction of the 141.75 miles from Robstown to Brownsville was going to cost $12,250 per mile; the branch line which would parallel the river for an additional 55.73 miles would cost $11,500 per mile. Benjamin F. Yoakum of the Frisco Line and Sam W. Fordyce an Arkansas railroad developer, were among others who signed a contract making the St. Louis Trust manager of the enterprise and agreed to give it a 1 ½ % commission. Construction began in Robstown in August 1903 and Brownsville was reached July 4, 1904. The through line to Houston wouldn’t open until December 31, 1907.

Originally chartered, on June 6, 1903, to run from Sinton to Brownsville with a westerly branch to the Starr County line, the charter was later amended to extend the line to Houston among other cities. The initial capital of the company was $1,000,000 and its principal place of business, Kingsville. Members of the first board of directors were Robert J. Kleberg, Dr. Arthur E. Spohn, Robert Driscoll, Jr., Uriah Lott, Richard King, John G. Kenedy, James B. Wells, Francisco Yturria, and Thomas Carson. Lott was named first president of the railway.

Lon C. Hill, Harlingen’s founder who had dedicated railroad right-of-way land surrounding and through the townsite which he one day planned to lay out, was later to recognize the contributions made by the railroad backers.
W.K. Bixby
Yoakum had been general manager of the St. Louis-based Frisco since 1896, and named chairman in 1904. He was well-known among all businessmen in St. Louis, judging from his ability to promote an idea described by Walter Barlow Stevens' book, St. Louis: The Fourth City (1911). In 1908 Yoakum believed the sluggish economy was healthy, but because people were wary of investing, prosperity could be fostered simply by convincing them to spend.

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

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

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

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

As America drew closer to entry in WWI, the Democratic President Woodrow Wilson and his attorney general, Thomas W. Gregory, partly as a result of the big Black Tom explosion in 1916, decided to expand the federal security force to include a volunteer army, as it were. Sixteen of the most influential corporations in St. Louis, undoubtedly many of the same ones involved as investors in the railroad owned by the St. Louis Union Trust, for whom G. H. Walker acted as receiver for several years, contributed funds to operate a local district office of the American Protective League. They again appointed him as their representative, naming him district chief of the St. Louis division, where he served until the APL was abandoned in February 1919.[4]

In Part IV of this series on the Walker clan, we wrote that during the same time he was dealing with World War I sabotage and slackers, Bert Walker was also in a war with his own father over how Bert's parents' estate was to be given away. He and his brother David Jr. sought to have D.D. Sr. declared incompetent and in need of a guardian for his estate in January 1918, a lawsuit still pending at the time of their father's death, at about the same time WWI ended. Almost as soon as the APL was abolished, Bert's niece, an orphan who had been under her grandparents' care most of her life, went to the Far East to work for New York attorney Alfred L. Marilley, general counsel for the boxing board as well as for the International Sporting Club (ISC).

The Move from St. Louis to New York

by Julian Street
Authors of Westmoreland and Portland Places lead us to believe that the creme de la creme of St. Louis business wealth in the 1890s lived on two adjacent streets, which were secluded and gated from the rest of the city. These families were the friends and neighbors of George Herbert (Bert) Walker, for whom George Bush was named. Walker would soon realize, however, that the exclusivity of St. Louis was nothing compared to the society of Long Island.
Bert Walker's daughters, Dorothy and Nancy, had been St. Louis debutantes in 1919, and both had acted in a local film their aunt, Mrs. Max Kotany, who had married a man from Hungary, helped sponsor the film to benefit the YWCA. Shortly after the film was shown, Bert moved the family to New York, and a year later, Dorothy was married at the Walker's summer home in Maine to Prescott Bush.

Howard F. Whitney, secretary of the American Golf Association (USGA) helped Bert obtain passports for himself and daughter Nancy Walker prior to their departure for Europe that spring. Bert, elected president of the USGA in January 1920, would be succeeded in that office a year later by Whitney, who graciously helped Bert entertain his daughters while they were in New York. The young ladies attended at least one debutante ball given for a friend of Whitney's daughter Carol, then returned home to prepare for a European tour with the family.

Howard F. Whitney's grandfather (Henry Norris Whitney) had been a partner in the Kissam, Whitney & Co. investment firm with Benjamin Kissam, whose sister, Maria Louise, married the son of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, becoming mother of Gertrude Vanderbilt, the wife of Harry Payne Whitney. Thus, Howard Whitney was more closely related to society through the Kissam lineage than through the Whitneys. 
In fact, this New York branch of Whitneys had no American connection to the family of William Collins Whitney (who stemmed from John Whitney, who arrived in Watertown, Massacusetts). Rather, the first ancestor of H. N. Whitney was Henry Whitney (born 1615) who arrived in Norwalk, Connecticut before 1652.

Notwithstanding the lack of kinship with brothers Harry Payne Whitney and W. Payne Whitney, Howard was familiar with them from charity events and committees, such as the Piping Rock Horse Show. At the time of his election as president of the USGA, Bert had not yet relocated from St. Louis, but he did play golf at The Links in Manhasset, near the Harry Payne Whitney estate of Greentree. Eventually he acquired a residence on Long Island near the Wheatley Hills Golf Club, which was also quite close to the Meadow Brook polo fields.

Bert Walker and his much younger boss, Averell Harriman, purchased their first horses for Log Cabin Stud, a partnership they formed in 1922, not far from the mansions of multi-millionaire Harry Payne Whitney and the late August Belmont II. Harriman was chairman of W.A. Harriman & Co., while Walker was president of the investment bank from 1920 until 1931. Prescott Bush worked for the bank before 1931, but then moved with Averell and Roland Harriman to Brown Brothers Harriman, after a merger with the older bank, whose partners were beginning to die off.

Payne Whitney's Long Island mansion, which consisted of 600 acres, shows up in the New York census of 1915 listing the Whitney family with 16 resident servants. After daughter Joan married Charles Shipman Payson, she built her own mansion within the acreage, having an address of Shelter Rock Road, Manhasset.

In 1925 the Walker family reported their home as an apartment at 453 Madison Avenue at East 50th Street, directly across the street from St. Patrick's Cathedral. By then the future "Uncle" Herbie (G. H. Walker III) was attending Yale. The 1940 census shows Herbie's family living in Greenwich on Dingletown Road, but at the time his wife died decades later, their address was 64 Hawthorne, much closer to the Bush network of families.

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

Averell Harriman's affinity for Bert Walker may have been passed to him by his own father, who admired Bert's ability to take pools of money begging to be managed and to use those funds in productive technology. Bert took western wealth from St. Louis back to the East and helped the Harriman sons meld those fortunes with even older fortunes long managed by investment bankers from other parts of the country--bankers he would meet playing golf and polo at country clubs on Long Island for the most part.

Wealth of Saint Louis

The capital syndicate in St. Louis -- comprised largely of the St. Louis Trust Company -- was initially incorporated in 1889 by
  • Edward C. Simmons, 
  • John A. Scudder (owner of steamboat and packet companies on Mississippi River), and 
  • Samuel M. Kennard (an organizer of the Mercantile Club). Daniel Catlin (director of State Savings Association and of St. Louis Club) and 
  • John T. Davis (an owner of Samuel C. Davis dry goods at Washington and Fifth), were not present at the first organizing meeting but had an interest in creating the trust company. 
  • Thomas H. West was made president with 
  • John Tilden Davis serving as first vice president. The trust company's first office was a small room in the Equitable building at Sixth and Locust streets with a capital of $500,000. During the merger in 1902 with the Union Trust Co., it acquired the latter's building at 705 Olive, in which 
  • A. L. Shapleigh had been an early director. After the merger, the St. Louis Union Trust Co. moved to new offices St. Louis Trust had built in 1900 at Fourth and Locust.
Jeannette Filley, married Isaac Morton, and lived two doors away from the Walker family when the 1900 census was made. Between their two homes lived Marion Lionberger Davis and her husband John D. Davis, an attorney and son of Horatio N. Davis, affiliated with the Mississippi Valley Trust Co. As we see in the inset above, Jeannette Morton and her late husband's estate were also members of the Brownsville Syndicate.
Maria Filley married John Tilden Davis, who would die at the young age of 50 in 1894. This marriage helped Davis expand his family's own wealth ("added vastly to his patrimony") into the St. Louis Trust Co. (later St. Louis Union Trust). Maria Filley Davis' son became the famous tennis enthusiast Dwight Filley Davis whose name is most well known for donating the funds to establish the Davis Cup, which G.H. Walker helped him set up. John T. Davis' father, Samuel C. Davis and uncle, John Tilden, had been founding partners in a wholesale dry goods company as early as 1837; Samuel Davis bought out his brother-in-law in 1852 and named the company for himself. He later made his son, John Tilden Davis, a partner with him. John T. Davis built a mansion at 17 Westmoreland Place in 1893. Dwight F. Davis was thus a first cousin to Louise Filley Walker, wife of Bert's brother, David D. Walker, Jr.
Alice Filley married Robert Moore and lived at 61 Vandeventer, a few doors away from her sister, Jeannette Filley Morton, near the Walker family home in which Bert grew up. A civil engineer for various short line railroads affiliated with E. H. Harriman's Illinois Central, Moore helped reorganize the St. Louis & Southwestern Railway Company ("Cotton Belt"), and was elected a director in its first year of operation, 1892, joining that board with Jay Gould's son Edwin, who, with Samuel Fordyce, ran the company until Fordyce resigned in 1898. This is the railroad which would become affiliated with the Frisco (St. Louis & San Francisco), as mentioned in an earlier post at this blog, where it is stated:
...[I]n 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. Yoakum had purchased a huge estate in Farmingdale, Long Island, New York two years earlier and used his profit to improve his farms. In 1913 the Frisco was placed in receivership by its major creditor, the St. Louis Union Trust, which selected an investment banker from St. Louis as receiver. George Herbert (Bert) Walker, whose bank had invested $60,000 in the syndicate which bought from Gould, had grown up in St. Louis among the other members of the syndicate whose secret hope was to sell out to the Frisco in short order. A U.S. Senate investigation revealed the insider trade in 1913. By 1920 Walker, too, had moved to Long Island--to Old Westbury--about twelve miles west of Yoakum's rustic farm, into the heart of horse breeders and bankers who had more money than St. Louisans could dream of. Doug Wead's biography of Bert's grandson, The Raising of a President, indicated the move may have begun as early as 1919.
  • Oliver Brown Filley, whose first wife died in childbirth in 1866, later married Mary Churchill McKinley, whose middle name was derived from her aunt, wife of Alexander Pope Churchill, from the family for whom Churchill Downs in Kentucky was named. 
Oliver's death in 1887 was soon followed by the death of Mary's mother (Mary Moss Wilcox McKinley) in 1893. A few months after her mother's death, Mary Filley (address 2923 Washington Avenue in St. Louis), packed up her four children, her unmarried sister and an entourage of servants, and moved to London. In August 1903, her son Oliver sailed from Liverpool on the same ship with Rev. Endicott Peabody's large family, bound for Boston, where he entered Harvard. A 1905 directory shows that both mother and son lived at 76 Mt. Vernon St. in Boston. She returned to London to live with her eldest daughter in 1914 but had to return to the States in November 1915 for emergency reasons. Her new 1916 passport application said she had a home in St. Louis, as well as a residence in Beverly, Massachusetts (where the E. M. House family also spent summers).
    • Mary Elizabeth Filley (born 1880) married in 1908 Welsh surgeon, Duncan Campbell Lloyd Fitzwilliams from Cardiganshire and had two children by 1911 (census); she died in 1919. Her husband received his medical training in Edinburgh at about the same time George Herbert Walker was said to be studying pre-med in Edinburgh, around 1893-94, before entering law school in St. Louis in 1895. Duncan also had a younger brother, Gerald Hall Lloyd Fitzwilliams,. During WWI the Fitzwilliams brothers were involved with Muriel Paget's Anglo-Russian Hospital in Petrograd. Gerald was also recruited by British Intelligence in 1915.
      Members of The Room, 1929
    • Oliver Dwight Filley (born in 1883 in Boston) attended prep school at Rugby, England, and graduated from Harvard in 1906. After rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the Army's Aviation Section, Signal Corps in WWI, in 1917 he married Mary Percy Pyne, daughter of Percy Rivington Pyne and Maud Howland Pyne--thus combining one segment of St. Louis's wealth with that of the National City Bank (today part of Citigroup). Mary Pyne grew up in a mansion  at 680 Park Avenue, and her mother Maud,  daughter of Gardiner Greene Howland, a founder of Pacific Mail Steamship, was half-sister to Rebecca Howland, first wife of James Roosevelt, and mother of James (Rosy) Roosevelt, Jr. After Rebecca's death, her husband married Sara Delano. James and Sara's only child was Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rosy's half-brother, and cousin of Mary Pyne (Mrs. Oliver) Filley. After Oliver's death, Mary Filley married widower, C. Suydam Cutting, one of her late husband's associates in an espionage ring known as "The Room," which helped FDR with secret intelligence matters in the days before the Central Intelligence Agency. In 1932 Cutting had married Helen McMahon Brady, widow of James Cox Brady, who died in 1927, and Helen died in 1961. Cutting died in 1972.
    • Anne McKinley Filley (born 1886) married John Stanley Ames, a son of Boston's wealthiest resident,  Frederick Lothrop Ames.

There are also several connections we find between the Filleys listed above and the Walker family, which also link them to the Bushes. One example of these long-term ties is Nicholas Brady. Nick Brady became head of Dillon Read & Co., and was later appointed secretary of the treasury during the last four months of President Reagan's second term, continuing under George Bush. Twenty years earlier, however, Nick's father, James Cox Brady, Jr. had been chairman (1962-68) of the New York Racing Association, sitting on the state racing board with John Hay (Jock) Whitney, Robert J. Kleberg, Jr., Ogden Phipps, Joseph Walker, Jr., and others--the same position Nick claimed as early as 1977. James Cox Brady, Sr. was Nicholas F. Brady's paternal grandfather.

Though Joseph Walker was not a member of the G.H. Walker family, he was married to a niece of Averell Harriman, Bert Walker's partner at W.A. Harriman & Co. from 1920-1931. 
Phipps had been long-time chairman of the Jockey Club, while Bert Walker was "a member of the Jockey Club, and for approximately a decade-- until 1934--he was a member of the New York State Racing Commission."

Trump puts name on Lamington House.
In 1936 Helen Brady Cutting announced the marriage of her stepdaughter, Victoria Brady, to John Knox Cowperthwaite, whose family had been the first to introduce installment selling four generations earlier. His father, Morgan Cowperthwaite, built a replica of the East Wing of the White House on his farm known as Lamington House, which is now the club house for the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, New Jersey. In 1981 John DeLorian bought the estate but lost it in bankruptcy in 2000 to Donald Trump.

Trump put his name on it, and it is one of the many golf courses the current President owns, on the long list of choices of where he has played golf almost every weekend since his election in 2016.

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

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

The Harrimans

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

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

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

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

When we follow the business rivalry involving railroads at that particular place and time, we learn a great deal about how our national history developed--how the big money worked to gain control of St. Louis rail traffic, but also how various financiers behind the curtain played a chess game to take control of the developing central banking system in the U.S. through what was to become known a generation later as Brown Brothers, Harriman.

That was the financial medium Bert Walker used to merge St. Louis, Chicago and New York wealth to shift control of the central banking system from Morgan to the Rockefellers. One author who has recognized the historical importance of these networks in explaining the rise of the Bush family is Richard Ben Cramer, who wrote in What It Takes:

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

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

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

E. H. Harriman died at the age of 61, leaving his railroad empire, which he was still in the process of creating, in the hands of Robert Scott Lovett, who was acting as mentor for Harriman's two sons not yet of university age. The McClure's article, published a year or so after Ned's death, showed the division of capital invested in railroads by group as of 1906. Nowhere do we see there the name B. F. Yoakum or the Frisco, per se:


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

click to enlarge
According to Brian Solomon (author of North American Railroad Family Trees), George Gould and his siblings inherited Jay Gould's railroad holdings upon his death in 1892. George and Edwin Gould worked for years to develop them before eventually bringing in others to assist. Solomon's book contains a helpful graphic to illustrate.

Benjamin Yoakum worked with Uriah Lott, beginning in 1896, with financing coming from the St. Louis Union Trust, to construct and manage the St. Louis & San Francisco (Frisco), which became:
the foundation for a group of roads connecting Chicago, St. Louis, and the Gulf of Mexico. In 1903 he [Yoakum] took control of the Chicago & Eastern Illinois while developing a close affiliation with Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (Rock Island Lines), the large network controlled by the Reid-Moore syndicate. Later Yoakum founded the Gulf Coast Lines.
In 1905, as mentioned in a previous post at this blog, the Frisco bought the St. Louis & Gulf Railroad, a system of short lines built in southeastern Missouri and Arkansas, consolidated by Louis Houck. One of the largest bloc of shares was owned by ancestors of Texan, D. H. Byrd, who, decades later, owned the office building from which it would be falsely claimed that the alleged assassin of  President John Kennedy had fired the fatal shots. A CIA agent often implicated in setting up Lee Harvey Oswald as the patsy in the assassination was David Atlee Phillips, whose grandfather, Charles Young, had built a railroad to which the Byrds' railroad linked up.

The New Orleans, Texas & Mexico Railroad began as the Colorado, Southern, New Orleans & Pacific, with the name changed in 1910 after other lines owned by the Frisco were added to it, and was operated as a division of the Frisco until placed into receivership in 1913. In 1915, however, we find Walker was working hard to combine that syndicate with more money from the East, but he was not named as receiver until 1916, when the system was sold to a new corporation set up that year--the New Orleans, Texas & Mexico Railway, doing business as the Gulf Coast Lines, and would be fully absorbed into the Missouri Pacific system in 1956, three years after Bert's death. 

The Byrd family, as we have seen, were invested in the San Antonio, Uvalde & Gulf (S.A.U.&G.) Railroad whose main connecting railroads were lines called the Katy (M-K-T), the Gulf Coast and I&GN--SAU&G acquired by Gould-built Missouri Pacific in 1920.[2]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1909 officers for St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Railway Co.


The International Bridge, NAFTA forerunner

The Handbook of Texas informs us that:

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

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

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

The St. Louis Business Network

The St. Louis Union Trust was appointed manager of the Brownsville Syndicate, presumably by a vote taken by its individual and corporate investors. Since officers of the St. Louis Union Trust also constituted members of the syndicate, the enterprise is indeed an example of the type of insider trading deals for which St. Louis is notable. The result of the Interstate Commerce Commission's investigation into the St. Louis & San Francisco (Frisco) Railroad receivership in November 1913, was a headline declaring "Millions in Profits by Inside Interests."

Bert Walker's firm, G.H. Walker & Co., had invested $60 million in the Brownsville Syndicate, but it most likely would have been much more if he had been able to get his hands on his father's money sooner.
George Herbert Walker and the APL

G. H. Walker district Chief, St. Louis APL
In April 1917 sixteen St. Louis companies incorporated a division of the American Protective League (APL), which appointed G. H. "Bert" Walker as Chief, who was in charge of about 3,000 operatives. {See newspaper clip of Emerson Clough's book, The Web, from 1918}

Walker as liaison between the businessmen/spies and the FIB (FBI) special agent in charge for St. Louis, Edward James Brennan. [3] The Federal Investigation Bureau was located in the Customs House at 815 Olive Street. The G.H. Walker & Co. investment bank was housed at 307 N. 7th Street, just a block east and in the same block between Olive and Locust Streets. Although Edward Brennan had been born in St. Louis to John Brennan, an Irish born railroad engineer who patented an electric switching device, he did not run in the same circles as the Walker family.

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

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


[1] According to an article by John Gleason, "From The Golf Journal Archives - A Great Amateur: George Herbert Walker," Oct 22, 2010 at USGA Museum website, originally appeared in July 1997 issue of Golf Journal, with a focus on Walker's role in financing professional golf:
Born into a wealthy St. Louis family, George Herbert Walker’s father owned the largest wholesale drygoods manufacturing firm in the Midwest. George was sent to Stonyhurst, an outstanding English prep school located north of Blackburn on the Lancashire coast. There he excelled in boxing, rugby and soccer. He attended the University of Edinburgh, where he studied pre-med for one year, but he abandoned that pursuit and eventually returned to St. Louis. He founded the banking and investment firm of G.H. Walker & Co., and became a member at St. Louis Country Club, where he played off a 5 handicap and captained the club’s championship polo team. Playing on that squad was Dwight Filley Davis, a ranking American tennis star who in 1900 became the donor of the Davis Cup for men’s international tennis competition." [A shortened version by Dave Shedloski in 2013 appeared at USGA as of October 8, 2017.]

[2] Sid may have been instrumental in having G.H. Walker & Co. chosen to issue $2 million in securities to construct the terminal building in Houston.

 Morgan group (Atlantic Coast Line; Southern Railway; Erie; Lehigh Valley)
Hill-Morgan (Great Northern; Northern Pacific; CBQ) (from part 2)
Harriman Group (Union Pacific; Southern Pacific; Illinois Central)
Pennsylvania Railroad (Pennsy system; C&O; Norfolk & Western)
New York Central (NYC; Lake Shore & Michigan; Southern; Michigan Central; CCC & St. Louis; NY, Chicago & St. Louis; Pittsburgh & Lake Erie)
Harriman-Pennsy-NYC joint (B&O; Reading)
Joint & Misc (ATSF, including Harriman and Morgan; Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, includes Harriman and Rockefeller; Chi & Northwestern, includes Vanderbilt; Delaware & Hudson; Del., Lackawanna & Western; NY, New Haven & Hartford, with Morgan, Rockefeller and Pennsy; Hocking Valley)
Gould (Missouri Pacific; Denver & Rio Grande; Wabash (p.16, p. 338); Texas & Pacific; St. Louis & Southwestern; Western Maryland; Wheeling & Lake Erie)
Rock Island (Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific; St. Louis & San Francisco; Chicago & Eastern Illinois; Evansville & Terre Haute)

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

 [4] Emerson Hough, The Web (1919).