HOME | YESTERDAY | FAMILY | MEMORIES | SOLVAY | EXTRA! EXTRA! | STARSTRUCK | JACK MAJOR | BASEBALL

He was New York's Goulden boy
Kingdon Gould (1887-1945) was the son of financier George Jay Gould and the grandson of the infamous Jason “Jay” Gould, a railroad developer who later was tagged “a robber baron.” He became one of the wealthiest persons in America, and that wealth insured a comfortable life for his family for several generations to come.

His son, George Jay Gould, also was a railroad executive. He was married to Edith M. Kingdon, a stage actress, and the reason the couple’s first child was named Kingdon Gould.

I knew nothing about him, but first item (below) caught my eye. It was obvious the man was from a rich family, thanks to nature of the lawsuit and the amount involved. His last name rang a bell or two, and so I dug deeper.

As a teenager he was best known for his polo playing. A strange incident as a freshman at Columbia University (detailed in a story further down the page) made him perhaps the most unpopular student on campus. Apparently he thought he could buy his way back into favor, but his efforts failed.

Syracuse Journal

Sues Gould for $500,000 for Failure to Marry
NEW YORK, Feb. 1 – Mrs. Richard Blum of Arkville, N.Y., has filed suit for $500,000 against Kingdon Gould, youngest son of George Jay Gould, for alleged breach of prommise, it was learned today.

“It was in a statement to the court that Mrs. Blum had an agreement with Gould for them to marry as soon as she was divorced from her husband.

From there I found a much more detailed account of the situation. The woman's name, incidentally, was Elsa Erpf Letkovic. Her former husband was Dr. Richard Blum, and she lived in a Catskill Mountain community where the Gould family had an estate they occupied during the summer months.
New York Evening Telegram

Kingdon Gould May Be Sued
February 1 – A court proceeding, known as an “examination before trial,” in which Kingdon Gould, son of George Jay Gould, will be a witness, may take place on Saturday, it was learned today, following an ex parte order heard before Supreme Court Justice Edward R. Finch.

No papers were filed to indicate the merits of the pending suit. It was brought out, however, that the action is one of breach of promise. The plaintiff in the case is Else Blum, of Arkville, N.Y., who on June 6, 1917, obtained a divorce from Dr. Richard Blum.

Oppose Court Order
Mr. Gould’s name was brought into the case when he and his attorney, Robert B. Knowles, appeared before Justice Finch in chambers on an order to show cause why Mr. Gould should not submit to an examination before trial. Mr. Knowles opposed the order.

To get the relief sought it was necessary for Mrs. Blum’s attorney, Norman P. J. Schloss, to incorporate in his moving papers the summons and complaint in the suit, which the attorney told Justice Finch he had deliberately refrained from filing so as “to avoid publicity.” Mr. Schloss did not file the papers. He read extracts from them to the Justice.

Mrs. Blum’s attorney in his argument said the contemplated suit against Mr. Gould was for $500,000 for an alleged breach of promise. Following this declaration, the attorney went into a history of the case during the time the doctor and Mrs. Blum were living at Arkville, near Mr. Gould’s estate.

Mr. Schloss told Justice Finch that the complaint he had prepared alleges it was Kingdon Gould who first told Mrs. Blum she had grounds for a divorce. Following the advice, Mr. Schloss said, detectives were employed. On June 6, 1917, Mrs. Blum procured her freedom. She did not ask for alimony.

In his argument, Mrs. Blum’s attorney pointed out that his client fully expected Mr. Gould would marry Mrs. Blum under a promise made prior to her divorce from Dr. Blum, but that less than a month after the divorce proceedings Mr. Gould married Miss Annunziata Camilla Maria Lucci, an artist. The date of Mr. Gould’s marriage was given by Mr. Schloss as July 2, 1917.

The attorney did not tell the Court why his client had not prosecuted the action until four years after Mr. Gould’s marriage.

Makes General Denial
Mr. Kingdon Gould was present during the argument. He took no part in the hearing. His attorney, however, made a general denial of all the allegations set up by the petitioner’s counsel with reference to any promises made by Mr. Gould to Mrs. Blum at any time before or after she had obtained her divorce. He asked that the order be vacated.

Upon the completion of the argument, Justice Finch directed that both sides prepare briefs and submit them in order that he may make a decision before ten o’clock next Saturday morning, the time originally set for Mr. Gould’s examination.

Following the Court’s ruling, Mr. Schloss put all the papers involved in the case back in his portfolio. No papers were filed. When asked when he would file the summons and complaint Mr. Schloss replied:

“Maybe it never will be filed. I have been trying to avoid publicity. I knew the Goulds did not want any publicity in this matter and Mrs. Blum comes from a very fine family, and of course was equally desirous of avoiding publicity.”

Well, obviously Mrs. Blum and Kingdon Gould received some publicity, though it turned out to be minimal because the case was quickly settled – out of court.
New York Tribune

Gould Breach of Promise Suit Stricken From Court Record
February 9 – The $500,000 breach of promise suit of Mrs. Elsie Erpf Lefkovics Blum against Kingdon Gould, son of George J. Gould, came to an end yesterday when neither side responded on the call of the case before Justice Tierney in the Supreme Court.

Announcement had been made on Monday night, after a conference of the principals and the attorneys in the case, that a settlement had been reached out of court. While not stated officially, the amount which Mr. Gould agreed to pay Mrs. Blum was placed at $90,000.


Kingdon Gould and his wife,
Annunziata Camilla Maria Lucci,
had three children –
Silvia Annunziata Gould,
Edith Kingdon Gould and
Kingdon Gould Jr., who became ambassador to Luxembourg
and the Netherlands under
Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
His father, however, had died long before that, on November 7, 1945.
In seeking more information about Kingdon Gould, I found an interesting incident from 1904, plus some editorial comment it provoked. This just goes to show why being a college freshman 100 years ago wasn't a whole lot of fun, even when you knew revenge – of a sort – would be yours during your sophomore year.
New York Tribune 1904

Long Feared Kidnappers
Friend Says Family Had Him Carry Pistol
DECEMBER 23 – A new theory as to why Kingdon Gould shot at the Columbia sophomores was offered yesterday when an intimate friend of young Gould, also a student at Columbia, said that young Gould had been warned from childhood never to accompany any one with whom he was not intimately acquainted, lest he be kidnapped.

It appears further that an attempt was once made to kidnap Gould and his younger brother. After that, Gould's family is said to have provided him with a revolver, which he carried with him constantly.

According to young Gould's friend, Gould shot instinctively when he was pursued by the sophomores.

Another development in the case yesterday was the statement by a large number of sophomores that if any of their number were suspended as a result of the affair "the class would go on strike."

The attempt to kidnap Gould and his brother several years ago was made near the Metropolitan Opera House.

A number of wealthy men in this country have taken special pains to guard their children. Edward A. Cudahy Jr., the fifteen-year-old son of the wealthy packer and head of the Cudahy Packing Company, of Omaha, was kidnapped by "Pat" Crowe and others, December 10, 1900. The boy was returned thirty-six hours after his father had paid $25,000 in gold to his captors.

"It was not strange, therefore," said this friend, "that when he was pursued by the sophomores he should have used his revolver. To me it seems reasonable that this almost morbid fear, engendered by constant warnings to be on his guard, should cause him to lose his head and to seek protection. I know well that when he entered his fraternity house after the excitement had cooled somewhat he was most heartily sorry for what he had done."

Many Columbia men yesterday, however, said it was ridiculous to assume that Gould was so morbidly in fear of being kidnapped that he should shoot at sophomores whom he knew.

Captain McGlynn of the West 125th Street station, was at Columbia yesterday. With Frederick A. Goetze, superintendent of buildings, the captain made a tour of the place to find out exactly the details of the affair. Captain McGlynn visited Dean Hutton and got an interview with Arthur Algeltinger, the sophomore who is supposed to have been among those who pursued young Gould. Then the captain visited the Delta Kappa Epsilon house. He did not see Gould. He said he was looking for him. The captain declared that he had been able to get no one to say even that Gould had a revolver.

Summoned Before the Dean
There was an interview lasting nearly two hours between Dean Hutton and the six sophomores whom he had summoned at the request of President Butler. The men were Arthur Algeltinger, William J. Simpson, R. DeWitt Bailly, R. W. Cauchols, A. Doty and Frederick Lage.

After the conference the dean announced that he would take the affair to President Butler and would give a decision in the matter some time today. There is a general impression that the men whose names have been given will be suspended for not more than four weeks, and possibly for two.

"Is it certain that Kingdon Gould had a revolver and really fired it?" the dean was asked later:

"Oh, yes; there is no doubt of both facts. The testimony of all the students I have seen is unanimous on these points."

"Has any complaint been made by Kingdon Gould or his family?" .

"None whatever. Legally speaking, the case may be described as fama clamosa—that is, that it has become famous through the newspapers. The attempted kidnapping reflects on the reputation of Columbia University."

"Does the university object to Gould having carried a pistol?"

"That is a matter for the police. It is one with which the university has nothing to do."

Dean Hutton also said that, although there was no great opposition on the part of the faculty to interclass rivalry and to fighting on South Field between the freshmen and sophomores, the faculty was opposed to the practice of kidnapping single freshmen or groups by the older classmen, and was determined to stop the custom. The dean said that if suspersion of the culprit sophomores would produce that effect, they would be suspended. He asked if the students present would take suspension with good
grace. They replied that they did not deserve it.

Young Gould Not at College
Kingdon Gould did not appear at college yesterday, although he was expected to be there. He told several friends who called at his house on Wednesday evening that he would surely be at his lectures yesterday. It was said at his house that he was not at home.

It is thought likely that he will not return to college before the opening of the Christmas holidays tomorrow, and that he will probably go to Lakewood for the vacation. If there is any trouble over the carrying of the revolver he will be out of the jurisdiction of Commissioner McAdoo for that time at least, and it is probable that in the interval the affair will be brought to a settlement of some kind.

"The Columbia Spectator," the college dally, has avoided printing anything about the Gouid affair. It was said in some quarters that this was the result of a faculty order not to comment on the case. William F. J. Piel, '05, college, editor in chief of the paper, said, however, that no such request had been made, and that the only reason that nothing had been said was that it was not in keeping with the policy of the paper to mention undergraduate fights.

Chancellor MacCracken of New-York University was asked last night if he knew whether Kingdon Gould would leave Columbia University for that institution. The chancellor said that he knew nothing about young Gould's intentions. He added that there were at least ten excellent schools of applied science where Gould might go in the event of his leaving Columbia.

The kidnap attempt mentioned in the previous story involved Kingdon and his younger brother, Jay Gould II, who would become best known as a tennis player. Well, not tennis as we understand it today, but something called real tennis, an ancient sport from which the modern game developed. However, the version that Jay Gould II played has since died, though it has been re-enacted in a few films, including the unusual 1976 Sherlock Holmes tale, "The Seven Percent Solution."

Anyway, Kingdon Gould's little shooting spree provoked this editorial:

New York Tribune 1904

Customs That Need to be Abolished
DECEMBER 22 – If young Kingdon Gould, a freshman in Columbia University, fired a loaded revolver over the heads of sophomores who were intent on taking him captive and dragging him off to decorate their banquet, he made a mistake, for he might accidentally have aimed too low. If the revolver contained blank cartridges, it became, nevertheless, the duty of the police to ascertain whether or not he was going armed without a permit.

In either case, he committed, from the undergraduate point of view, an error of tactics in adopting such an extreme course of resistance to a college custom which the students consider venerable. If he had turned on his pursuers, put up a stiff fight and yielded, if at all, only to overwhelming numbers, they would probably have conceived a high respect for his prowess and treated him with a degree of consideration which would not have made the gracing of their triumph a painful affliction.

As it is, he is in danger of finding himself for some time to come in a position of some discomfort.

But there is another side to the case, and it is the one in which the public is chiefly interested. There are many kinds and degrees of hazing. The word covers practices to which it may not be worthwhile for outsiders to make objection and which are pretty generally believed, not without reason, to have a salutary effect on the verdant youths to whom they are applied.

Environment and public opinion count for something. In a small town, which is more than half supported by a thriving college, the people may not feel themselves incommoded by the pranks of students, and instead of resenting may rather enjoy them. Moreover, the victims themselves often find a curious satisfaction in contributing to the observance of a college custom, especially when they reflect that it will be their privilege to discipline inferiors the next year.

The chief objection to making such concessions to academic sentiment is that it is next to impossible to draw the line, and that the practice of hazing inevitably tends to abuses which cannot be excused anywhere and are intolerable in a great city.

A sense of self-repsect which forbids a young man to submit without resistance to degrading treatment, even though he knows that it does not signify ill will on the part of his tormentors, is not a bad trait; nor, if he chooses to take advantage of the law of self-defense, should it be forgotten that he has as good a right as anybody else to do so; but the truth is that students ought to be as fully protected as other persons are from personal molestation.

On a college campus the college authorities are bound to keep the spirit of license within decent limits and to invoke assistance from outside if they need it. On a public street it is the duty of the police to preserve order. The Columbia sophomores, apparently stimulated to special efforts by their failutre to get possession of young Gould, spent a good part of yesterday in conflicts with other freshmen. Pursuers and pursued swarmed in the vicitinty of the 116th Street subway station, blocked the streetcars and created what would have been called a riot if the combatants had not been students.

As a matter of fact, their proceedings were outrageous, and the police, instead of looking on complacently, ought to have stopped them by whatever exercise of force was necessary for the purpose.

If anybody says that we have no red blood left or sympathy with jovial young manhood, we answer that we have lots of it, and a hot scrimmage within the rules of a fair game was never yet regarded with disapproval by The Tribune. But hazing is not that kind of sport, and, above all, the streets of New York are not a suitable arena for college brawls and combats.

A year later Kingdon Gould's status at Columbia was mentioned in an article headlined "Hazing and Ruffianism Growing in Colleges."
Brooklyn Daily Eagle 1905

Kingdon Gould’s Unpopularity
NOVEMBER 26 – The general unpopularity among Columbia students which Kingdon Gould, the son of George Gould, brought upon himself by resisting by the use of firearms what he believed to be an effort on the part of sophomores to haze him last spring as evidenced by his failure of election to the leading sophomore society indicates clearly how strongly the tradition of hazing is intrenched in the Morningside Heights college. The young man’s attempt to buy his way back into favor by generosity in the support of college sports and the obvious failure of the attempt requires no comment.

As an indication that the habit is not confined to the Eastern colleges, but that institutions in other parts of the country are also suffering from the “hazing epidemic,” the following statement by H. F. Fleet, superintendent of the Culver Military Academy of Culver, Indiana, bears witness. Superintdent Fleet says:

“Cadet Fee, a second year student of New Olreans, was required by the students to undress, get into a tub filled with ice water and take an electric shock from a medical battery. One wire was put in the water and it caused such a shock that the breathing muscles becamne paralyzed. After the handle of the battery had been pulled from Fee’s hands he was taken from the tub unconscious, gasping for breath in such an alarming manner that one of the cadets rushed out of the barracks and notified the officers in charge.

“The school surgeon was sent for and restoratives were applied, Fee recovered consciousness in fifteen minutes. Cadet Harris of Missouri, and others, were maltreated. Eight cadets were expelled, among them H. L. Fleming of New York.”

HOME CONTACT