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