Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Marriage--the Ultimate Business Merger

Stillmans remain close to collateral kin.
James J. Stillman did see to it that his children married "well."  Daughter Elsie married William Goodsell Rockefeller in 1895; Isabel married his brother, Percy Avery Rockefeller, in 1901; and James Alexander Stillman later in 1901 married Anne Urquhart Potter, an actress. 

The Stillman daughters lived in Greenwich, CT with their Rockefeller husbands (both Yale educated and members of Skull and Bones), and they maintained close ties with their Stillman relatives, who worked at the bank which is now known as Citigroup. Charles Stillman, Jr., their bachelor uncle, had graduated from Yale in 1882 and worked in cotton brokerage like the Swensons.The next generation witnessed the marriage of Elizabeth Goodrich Stillman, the daughter of Elsie's cousin, Chauncey Stillman, to Langbourne Meade Williams, a son of John L. Williams, one of Eric Swenson's investors in his Freeport Sulphur Co.:

The John L. Williams & Sons, Banking Family

The Stillman family's shares in Freeport Sulphur were originally acquired in 1912 by James J. Stillman, when the mineral company was founded by a third-generation Texas banker:
Eric P. Swenson, vice- president of National City Bank in New York and a native Texan who retained strong financial ties throughout Texas, showed interest and visited the find in 1911. When Swenson saw the site, he realized that he could also develop a duty-free port nearby. Upon returning to New York, he formed the Vanderlip-Swenson-Tilghman Syndicate. He pooled capital of $700,000 to finance the project and purchased Bryanmound and the surrounding area.
It was said of Eric P. Swenson's Fidelity Bank when it opened in March 1900 in the upper East side of New York City, that:
while it will be a separate institution, it will practically be an up-town branch of the City National Bank....One of the Directors of the new bank said last night:
"The institution is designed to accommodate the people up town, and will be more especially a 'householders' bank'. It will probably have close business relations with the National City Bank."
Langbourne Williams, Sr.'s brother, John Skelton Williams, was a Virginian like President Woodrow Wilson, who appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Treasury on March 24, 1913. While awaiting approval of his appointment as Comptroller of the Currency, he was thus placed in charge of the fiscal bureaus of the Treasury Department and would have such control until Warren Harding's inauguration in 1921--the first eight years of the Fed's operation. The Southerner's background was given in an introduction to him by the Washington Post, published May 25, 1913:
blue blooded Virginian
The new Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. John Skelton Williams, has the enviable distinction of tracing his line of descent on the paternal side of his family direct from our first First Lady [Martha Washington], and from his maternal ancestors there flows in his veins the bluest blood of the F.F.V.'s [First Families of Virginia].

Mr. Williams' grandmother, Sianna Dandridge, was the daughter of William Dandridge, of New Kent, whose father, John Bartholomew Dandridge, was the brother of Martha Washington. Sianna Dandridge's mother was Susannah Armistead, the only daughter of Maj. William Armistead, of New Kent, who was a direct descendant of William Armistead, the emigrant, who landed on the shores of Virginia In 1636. 

Nor is Mr. Williams' mother's line any less distinguished. She comes from the Skeltons and the Randolphs—families who have made Virginia's history famous since Colonial days. She is the great-granddaughter of the Edmund Randolph who was the first Secretary of State under President Washington, and who was the first Attorney General of the young republic. 

Secretary Williams' parents, John Langbourne and Marie Ward Skelton Williams, were living at their country home, in Powhatan county, Va., when their son, John Skelton, was born, July 6, 1866. His early boyhood days were spent there and at the Virginia capital, and in the private schools of Richmond young Williams received his rudimentary education. Later he attended the University of Virginia [later the alma mater of Mississippi-born Frank Wisner], and in 1886 he took a short term at law at that institution, not with the idea, however, of practicing, but in order to better fit himself for his business career. He entered his father's banking house as an apprentice, and learned the business from the first round of the ladder up. He had remarkable aptitude for business, as was shown when at the age of 18 he began the publication of a pamphlet entitled "A Manual of Investments," a publication commanding such a wide circulation that he continued publishing it for a number of years—in fact, until he became too busy with other things to do so. 

... It was he who first thought out, and then brought to consummation, the short line from New York to Florida—that which is now known as the Seaboard Air Line Railway system. In 1900 he was elected the first president of the system—a most unusual honor to come to a man in his thirty-fourth year. Since then Mr. Willlams has been more and more identified with the business interests of the South. He became a director in numerous trust companies, banks, railroad and other corporations, and is now a recognized leading financier, not only of the South, but in many of the business centers of the country.
Taking Charge of the New Fed

A mere seven months after this introduction Williams was being viciously attacked in the press, and soon thereafter was being investigated by Congress. Claims were made by a Republican who had been involved politically with Theodore Roosevelt, named Milton E. Ailes,  that Williams had "resorted to extraordinary methods to obtain information with which to attack the National City Bank of New York" as well as the Riggs National Bank in Washington, D.C. 

George Peabody's partner in Baltimore, Elisha Riggs, had founded the Riggs bank. This blog has previously detailed George Peabody's rise from the elite enclave of China traders in Essex County, Massachusetts, to enter banking in Baltimore. His training complete, he shipped off to England during the days his Danvers relatives were accumulating capital in the so-called China trade, into which various members of the Peabody clan, such as Endicott Peabody, were intermarried. George Peabody's role in London, as a representative for the House of Morgan, was to launder profits of his opium-trading kin through what then served as America's bank of last-resort lending. He created the model for using drug money to build up America's gold reserves.

John Langbourne Williams' financial network
Perhaps Ailes was aware of this connection, from the previous century, between the opium traders in New England and the Baltimore bankers. Perhaps he was urged to destroy the triangular scheme by which anti-Federalist shipping merchants, who were blockade runners and smugglers during the War of 1812, had linked up with Southern bankers--both of which groups had ties to British banks which had similar experience with East India Company profits before the opium wars shut off that faucet for them.

All we know at this point is that Milton Ailes made vicious attacks against the Virginian whose father, banker John Langbourne Williams of Richmond, Va., was in partnership with the J. W. Middendorf banking family, according to information from Baltimore: Its History and Its People (1912). J.W. Middendorf II would, in 1968 help finance George Bush's run for President against Richard Nixon and others; he almost got Bush's name on the ballot as vice president, he revealed in his 2011 book, Potomac Fever.
Ailes also stated that "Williams had maliciously used his high office as a cover to impertinently, arrogantly and insolently pry into matters with which he had no official concern whatever, for the purpose and with the intent to injure the bank and wreak his vengeance on certain of its officers against whom he entertained a personal hatred." Ailes was obviously working on behalf of competing banking networks, likely based in New York, who did not want to allow these Southerners to compete with them. Eventually, a grand jury indicted the Riggs bankers for selling stocks short, but the defense used former Presidents William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt as character witnesses for the defendants. It was all set out in a book by banker, Thomas P. Kane, in The Romance and Tragedy of Banking.

A Faked Memorial
Ten years after the 1916 trial, John Skelton Williams died, but his influence remained. The major investment in sulphur his father's bank had made in 1912 was destined to fall under the control of the former Comptroller's nephew, Langbourne M. Williams, Jr. in 1930, not coincidentally the same year Langbourne married Elizabeth Goodrich Stillman. As the sister of the same Chauncey Devereaux Stillman, introduced in a previous post, Mrs. Williams served as a link between the capital acquired at the turn of the 20th century by an old Connecticut family--with mining assets, including sulphur, in Mexico and Texas, along with assets in petroleum brought in when her Stillman aunt and grandmother married sons of William Rockefeller. 

The 1930 marriage would allow financial management of those mining and oil assets to be handed over to one of Virginia's oldest banking families. Yet it seems nobody understood what was actually happening. G. E. Dodd, who had to pay the newspaper to get it to print his version of the farce that took place when Godfrey S. Rockefeller and J. Sterling Rockefeller went  to Brownsville, Texas, with the Stillmans and Williamses to create a fake memorial for Charles Stillman did not know exactly what was amiss, only that he smelled a rat.  It was with this Brownsville memorial that we began our series about the Stillman family in Texas with the intention of exploring Lisa Pease's research which connects Freeport Sulphur to the John Kennedy assassination.

It is at that point we will pick up eventually. Watch for it.

Friday, June 21, 2013

How the Rockefellers Got Control of Skull and Bones in 1930

Percy at Yale, 1900, marries Stillman 1901
Probably because of his family's intimate contacts in governmental circles, Charles Stillman was in a position as soon as the treaty ending the Mexican War was signed, to purchase the military's boats previously used to navigate the Rio Grande River. But Stillman had set up a town directly across the river from Matamoros, which he named Brownsville (For Fort Brown), and found it more profitable to operate a ferry across the river. He thus attempted to sell his boats to other men who had been engaged in furnishing supplies to the military during the war by steamboat. Two of these were Mifflin Kenedy and Richard King, who also became huge landowners in the former disputed area between the Rio Grande and Nueces Rivers. They were partners until 1865, when Charles Stillman returned to New York City to make way for the establishment of the First National City Bank of New York from profiteering profits derived from two wars.

Click image to enlarge.
The Connecticut Roots of Stillman Family

When we review the Stillman family ancestry, we find that it, intriguingly intersects with that of the families we have previously researched who were intimately involved with the Russell Trust and Skull and Bones in the early days of Connecticut's history. From various genealogical studies, the following information has been collected about the common ancestor, most of which is derived from Life of Mr. George Stileman/Stillman:

Founder of the largest North American Stillman branch, Mr. George Stillman was born in England in 1654 as George Stileman -- the first of three sons of George Stileman (1621- ). A bronze plaque dated 1670 hangs in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Steeple Ashton, Wiltshire County, England to memorialize him.

In 1677 George Stileman married Jane Pickering -- the daughter of Sir Gilbert Pickering, Baronet of Nova Scotia 1st, a strict Puritan and Oliver Cromwell's Lord Chamberlain to the Protector (a combination of supreme court judge and attorney general). As was the custom of the time, George Stileman took Jane Pickering's last name, rather than the reverse, so that Jane Pickering could retain her societal status and inheritance. Thus George Stileman became George Stileman Pickering.

Jane Pickering gave birth to their first son, George Stileman Pickering, Jr., in August 1679. Through Lady Elizabeth Montagu Pickering, the wife of Sir Gilbert Pickering, a royal lineage has been thoroughly documented by John R. Sprague III. All direct descendants of Mr. George Stillman may rightfully claim this lineage as theirs for whatever purposes such claim may serve.

In those times, there was a tremendous amount of turmoil everywhere, with the monarchy in constant struggle to wrest control from the Parliament, and with religious groups fighting openly to gain control as well. Sir Gilbert Pickering died in 1668 leaving his eldest son Sir John Pickering in charge of the Pickering family. The throne of the King of England was once again claimed by the Roman Catholics through the Stuart family when Charles II died and his brother James II became King of Great Britain in 1685.
Duke of Monmouth executed
George Stileman Pickering and Jane Pickering were apprehended and charged with treason during the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion of 1685, a generation after the death of Oliver Cromwell, but were able through wealth and influence to leave England and immediately set sail for the American Colonies from London late that same year with all that they could carry with them.

George Stileman Pickering Jr., Samuel Stileman Pickering, and a daughter, Jane Stileman Pickering, were left behind to be sent for when their new home in the New England colonies had been established. Tragedy struck during the trip when Jane Pickering died at sea of complications resulting from premature childbirth. George Stileman Pickering settled in Hadley, Massachusetts, dropped the Pickering name, and resumed the use of his surname of Stileman.

George was joined later by his eldest son George Stileman Pickering, Jr. George Stileman Pickering, Jr. -- unhappy with following his father's new trade- - returned to England, and completed studies and qualifiications to practice as a medical doctor. In 1689 George Stileman changed to the surname spelling of Stillman. Doctor George Stileman Pickering, Jr. returned to the colonies permanently around 1700 and also dropped his last name of Pickering and assumed the surname spelling of Stillman, the same as his father.

A man of education, George Stillman's mercantile business grew to make him wealthy in Hadley, and he served as a Selectman, a member of the Board of Governors. He married Rebecca Smith, daughter of Lt. Philip Smith in 1686. George Stillman moved everything to Wethersfield, Connecticut, where Lt. Smith and his father had removed, abandoning the property which was then being besieged by the Narragansett tribes. It was Nathaniel Foote, Philip's wife's father, who was credited with founding this new community four miles south of Hartford.

In 1699 George and Rebecca Smith Stillman had a daughter named Anna who would marry Deacon Hezakiah May; their daughter, Elizabeth May, wife of Daniel Newcomb, had a daughter, Lydia, who married Timothy Bush; thus began the Stillman relationship to the George Bush Family lineage.

George Stillman carried on a large trade business with the West Indies and England until his death in 1728. During his life he set one son, John Stillman, up in business, provided son Benjamin Stillman with a Yale education (Class of 1725), and made various bequests to his other children--Nathaniel Stillman, several daughters, and his son, Dr. George Stillman Jr.
Deacon Benjamin Stillman practiced law in Middleton, Connecticut, the same town where his sister Lydia Stillman lived with her husband, Rev. Daniel Russell.
But it was Nathaniel Stillman (1719 – 1811) whose branch leads to Charles Stillman. We will return to him subsequently.

Lt. Philip Smith
Before a year passed after his arrival, George Stillman had married a young woman in Hadley, Massachusetts, Rebecca Smith, whose father, Lieutenant Philip Smith, was "murder'd with an hideous witchcraft," in 1684, according to Cotton Mather's writings. Smith's own father-in-law, Nathaniel Foote, in 1634 had led many of Hadley's citizens out of the Bay Colony to a new town he set up in Connecticut called Wethersfield. Lieutenant Samuel Smith (the "fellmonger") went with the Foote group, but then returned to Hadley with his son Philip about 25 years later and served in the colonial legislature.

Philip Smith went back to Wethersfield with Rev. William Russell, Jr. in 1659 and married Foote's youngest daughter, Rebecca, then about 24. He took her with him to Hadley where he helped to run the Hopkins School, . Twenty-five years later he died at the age of 50--allegedly murdered by Mary Reeve Webster, Wife of William Webster, who lived near Hadley. Prior to Smith's death, Webster had already been accused of witchcraft and sent to Boston for trial, in which it was alleged:
...that she, not having the fear of God before her eyes, and being instigated by the devil, hath entered into covenant and had familiarity with him in the shape of a warraneage, (fisher or wild black cat of the woods) and had his imps sucking her, and teats or marks found on her, as in and by several testimonies may appear, contrary to the peace of our sovereign lord, the king, his crown and dignity, the laws of God and of this jurisdiction

Hideous Witchcraft
Once Smith was dead, the good citizens of Hadley, strung up Mary Webster, hanging her, though she survived the night. She was then buried in a pile of snow but again survived that ordeal.

Two years later after her father's death, Rebecca Smith became George Stillman's second wife. After their children were born in Hadley, Massachusetts, the Stillmans migrated to Wethersfield in Connecticut. There their daughter, Lydia Stillman, married into the Russell family--becoming the wife of Rev. Daniel Russell, son of Nodiah Russell of New Haven and Mary Hamlin Russell from Middletown, Connecticut.

See Russell genealogy
Yale Founder Nodiah Russell 

Daniel Russell's father had been one of the twelve founders of Yale as well as one of the trustees of the college, and his brother, William Russell (Yale 1709), who was pastor of the church in Middletown, CT was married to Mary Pierpont, from whose Huguenot family the notable banker, J. Pierpont Morgan, was also descended. 

Mary Pierpont's sister was the wife of famed preacher Jonathan Edwards, who was an integral part of the "great awakening":
Edwards argued that Lockean “sense impressions” of most importance were those which saw and felt God, since they affected human growth. Confronting his congregation, he pitted two images – images of “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” against those of “the divine and supernatural light”. The result of such sermons during the 1730s brought society in the Connecticut Valley to remarkable conversion and interior reflection. This revivalist sentiment spread throughout New England in different degrees throughout the decade, with another resurgence or zeal occurring in 1742-1743.
Thus it was that the Stillman family was so closely tied to the man who would become known as the co-founded of Skull and Bones at Yale:
Rev. William Russell married Mary, oldest daughter of Rev. James Pierpont (Harvard, 1681), also one of the ten founders of Yale College, and one of the original trustees of Yale College thirteen years (1701 to 1714), and during a period of thirty years until his death (1685-1714), pastor of the First Congregational Church in New Haven. Another daughter, Sarah Pierpont, married Rev. Jonathan Edwards, D.D. (Yale, 1720), the distinguished theologian and president of Princeton College, and ancestor of three presidents of Yale (Timothy Dwight, president 1795-1817; Theodore D. Woolsey, president 1846-1871; Timothy Dwight, president 1886-1899), and whose granddaughter married Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton-gin. These Pierponts were descended from Sir Hugh de Pierrepont, of Picardy, in France, A. D. 980, whose grandson. Sir Robert de Pierrepont, went from France to England as commander in the army of William the Conqueror in 1066, and was ennobled for distinguished conduct at the battle of Hastings (1066), and from him descended the dukes and earls of Kingston. (Genealogical Abstract of the Family of Pierrepont, Yale College Library; also Hollister's History of Connecticut, "Vol. I, 458-459, 510.) [Author: Norris Galpin Osborn Title: Men of mark in Connecticut; ideals of American life told in biographies and autobiographies of eminent living Americans (Volume 8)]
William and Mary Pierpont Russell had two sons:
  • one, named for his father Nodiah and also a clergyman, would become the grandfather of William Huntington Russell, founder of Skull and Bones at Yale.
  • Samuel, was father of Captain John Russell and grandfather of a second Samuel Russell, the founder of Russell & Company, in 1824 in Boston.  
We learn from Families of Ancient Wethersfield, Connecticut, Volume II, compiled by Henry R. Stiles and published by Grafton Press in 1904, about the Stillmans who went to Texas and Mexico during the Mexican and civil wars, and that leads us back into previously reported facts about Citigroup's Roots in Texas, as well as to the Skull and Bones cult that was founded in Connecticut in 1832. The Stiles book (inset right) was published shortly after James J. Stillman began marrying his children off into the William Rockefeller family, and thus melding the Standard Oil fortunes into Yale's endowment institutions. 

Yale had already managed to gobble up a large portion of the wealth of another of Standard Oil's original investors, Oliver Payne (Yale ), when the William Collins Whitney family split in two--one son William Payne Whitney casting his fortune with Yale and his Standard Oil heir uncle; the other, Harry Payne Whitney, siding with their father. Harry married into the Vanderbilt family, went to Harvard, and cast his fortune on the side of the Morgan banking conglomerate for which his father had long helped with its pump-and-dump schemes. William Payne Whitney dropped his first name, married the daughter of Secretary of State John Hay, and became the father of John Hay "Jock" Whitney, the man who eventually took over the Freeport Sulphur company created by earlier progenitors of the company founded by the Swensons of Texas.

The two or three decades after the Stillmans merged with the Rockefellers was the most crucial period in American history. It witnessed the shift of control of America's wealth from the Morgan elites to the Rockefeller upstarts, with Stillman betting his children's lives on the side of oil. William F. Engdahl has expressed the evidence garnered by previous researchers like Anthony Sutton and Eustace Mullins, when he writes in Gods of Money: Wall Street and the Death of the American Century:
In 1930 as most banks were struggling to survive, Rockefeller's Chase National Bank was thriving... Chase Bank's most significant acquisition during the first months of the financial crisis in 1930 was the Equitable Trust Company of New York, the largest stockholder of which was John D. Rockefeller Jr. This made the Chase Bank the largest bank in America and indeed the world.
As a result of their dominant position following the decline of the House of Morgan during the depression, the Rockefeller group, in addition to controlling Chase Bank and First City Bank of New York, controlled the largest US oil companies.
... The Rockefeller group also consolidated a commanding control over the major chemical and defense-related industries.

See one of the books by Anthony C. Sutton, Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution, which summed up each group's investments prior to the 1929 crash.
Before World War I, the financial and business structure of the United States was dominated by two conglomerates: Standard Oil, or the Rockefeller enterprise, and the Morgan complex of industries — finance and transportation companies. Rockefeller and Morgan trust alliances dominated not only Wall Street but, through interlocking directorships, almost the entire economic fabric of the United States.
Rockefeller interests monopolized the petroleum and allied industries, and controlled the copper trust, the smelters trust, and the gigantic tobacco trust, in addition to having influence in some Morgan properties such as the U.S. Steel Corporation as well as in hundreds of smaller industrial trusts, public service operations, railroads, and banking institutions. National City Bank was the largest of the banks influenced by Standard Oil-Rockefeller, but financial control extended to the United States Trust Company and Hanover National Bank as well as to major life insurance companies — Equitable Life and Mutual of New York. 
The great Morgan enterprises were in steel, shipping, and the electrical industry; they included General Electric, the rubber trust, and railroads. Like Rockefeller, Morgan controlled financial corporations — the National Bank of Commerce and the Chase National Bank, New York Life Insurance, and the Guaranty Trust Company. The names J.P. Morgan and Guaranty Trust Company occur repeatedly throughout this book. In the early part of the twentieth century the Guaranty Trust Company was dominated by the Harriman interests. When the elder Harriman (Edward Henry) died in 1909, Morgan and associates bought into Guaranty Trust as well as into Mutual Life and New York Life. In 1919 Morgan also bought control of Equitable Life,and the Guaranty Trust Company absorbed an additional six lesser trust companies. Therefore, at the end of World War I the Guaranty Trust and Bankers Trust were, respectively, the first and second largest trust companies in the United States, both dominated by Morgan interests. [emphasis added]

One last reminder before closing this post:
If you want to know who is in control, always follow the money!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Citigroup's Texas Midwives

Eric P. Swenson
As we have shown previously, Freeport Sulphur actually owes its Texas birth to a network of men linked to powerful interests in financial and political forces outside the state, who owned non-liquid assets in Texas they wished to convert into income-producing resources. The first of these network partners was S.M. Swenson and his son Eric P. Swenson, who leveraged their holdings in three areas of Texas into a sub-empire within another then-budding empire set up by James J. Stillman, son of a Connecticut Yankee who made his fortune between 1825 and 1865 in Texas during two wars.

We will subsequently reveal why James J. Stillman's son did not permanently take charge of his father's empire after his death in 1918. Although he did briefly replace his father as president and chairman of National City Bank in New York, James Alexander Stillman was beset by marital problems, as we will explore later, which diverted his focus from his career, and in 1921 a new chairman of the bank was appointed in his place -- Eric Pierson Swenson -- the same man who would control Freeport Sulphur from its founding in 1912 until he lost control to a Stillman in-law, L.M. Williams, Jr., in 1930. Both the Stillmans and Swensons had long-term connections to Texas and to the National City Bank of New York.

The Swenson Roots of Citigroup

Excerpt from C. L. Sonnichsen, Cowboys and Cattle Kings: Life on the Range Today (Norman, OK.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1950), pp. 141-142:
Click map to enlarge
Swante Magnus Swenson landed at Baltimore in the middle 1830s with no money and no experience except a few months spent in a store. [He was, in fact, a bookkeeper for a railroad in Baltimore.] This, however, was enough to get him a job with a retail firm. He did well. And before long he was sent [by whom?] on a trading expedition to Texas.
In 1838, when S. M. made his first trip, that was no week-end excursion. Railroads [in this area, at least] were far in the future. The boat sailed up the Brazos as far as Richmond, and there the real business started. S. M. bought mules and a hack and sold the goods he had brought, traveling all over the parts of Texas that were then settled. Before long he was ready to set up in business for himself, first at Richmond and later [1850], when the capital was moved, in Austin. In time he became the biggest merchant in town, a close friend of Sam Houston's, and a power in the land. Swante Palm, the greatest Swede in Texas, was his uncle, and that undoubtedly helped. [Palm worked in Swenson's general store in La Grange, Fayette County.] All went well until the Civil War broke out. Like Sam Houston, S. M. was not in favor of secession. Sam was big enough to stand the storm, but Swenson "took to the hills." To be specific, he went to Mexico, and one story says that he managed to get a great quantity of contraband cotton across the border and reaped a small fortune.

Another legend, still told in the family, says that just before he left he converted all his assets into gold, got his family out of the house by sending them on a picnic, and called in a stone mason. Well, his chimney had been giving him trouble. But when the fireplace was ready to be put back together again, a metal box of gold coins was cemented in beneath the floor. S. M. did not come back to dig it up. When the war ended, he was established in New York. Swante Palm officiated at the exhumation, however, and S. M. got his gold. He invested some of it in a sugar plantation and spent the rest of his life at or between points in Sweden, New York, and Louisiana.
Quoted in a Swedes in Texas website from Swedes in Texas in Words and Pictures, English Edition, 1838-1918, the following excerpt helps to fill in a gap about Swenson's life:
"In his first marriage, Swenson was joined with Mrs. Jeanette Long, widow of Dr. [George] Long. She died after a short time without having had any children. He then married Cora S. McCready, a cousin of his first wife. In this marriage, he had two sons, Erik [Eric P.] and [S.] Albin, and two daughters, Margareta and Eleonora. The first real home the family had was on the Long plantation where Sugarland is now located, in Fort Bend County, Texas. He got possession of this property through the marriage to his first wife."
The company S.M. Swenson founded in New Orleans, before he moved to New York, brought in as a partner another Texan who would serve to be a valuable connection to the Stillman banking family. An heir to the Kenedy Ranch in south Texas, this new banker's father had been a partner of Charles Stillman and Richard King at the close of the Mexican War in 1850:
John G. Kenedy [son of Mifflin Kenedy] was born in Brownsville, Texas, April 22, 1856, and was educated at Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama. After leaving school in 1873, he accepted a position with Perkins, Swenson & Co., bankers and commission merchants at New Orleans, where he remained several years.... Mr. John G. Kenedy married Miss Marie Turcotte of New Orleans January 30, 1884, and has two children living, John G. Kenedy, Jr., and Sarita Kenedy East.
Swenson's partner, John G. Kenedy, was present, according the local newspaper, at a huge banquet in which railroad builder Uriah Lott would be the guest of honor in July 1904 :
Lon C. Hill presided as Toast Master. Besides the tributes paid Col. Lott, many and beautiful expressions of gratitude were addressed by Mrs. H. M. King [wife of founder of King Ranch and mother-in-law of Richard Kleberg], John G. Kenedy, Maj. J. M. Armstrong, and others who contributed so liberally of their money, lands and influence towards the building of the railroad. In addition to the prominent citizens there were present State Senator John G. Willacy, Hon. P. Merrill Griffith, U S. Consul of Matamoros, Hon. John G. Kenedy, Capts. Kilburn and Baldwin of U. S. Army, Royal Givens, President of the Corpus Christi Board of Trade, Hon. Geo. D. Palfrey, Franklin, La., and other distinguished guests. Col. Lott accepted with becoming modesty the many graceful compliments paid him on his success in bringing the St. Louis, Brownville and Mexico road to this city, and also passed out a few boquets [sic] to citizens here for their assistance in the great work.
C. L. Sonnichsen excerpt (cont'd):
In New York he [S.M. Swenson] became an investment banker, associated with such men as Frank Vanderlip and Mortimer Schiff. In Louisiana, where he passed his winters, he kept up one palatial home, and in Sweden he had another for summer use.….

The ranch empire which A. J. Swenson and his sons have managed for almost half a century does not belong to them. It is the property of a corporation started by S.M. Swenson before he left Texas. He bought scrip covering railroadlands, purchased additional land, and eventually had three enormous blocks of real estate which he called the Ellerslie, Flat Top, and Throckmorton ranches…

In 1880 the new regime came in. E. P. Swenson was the powerhouse of the family from then on until his death in 1942 when he was well over ninety.… Under E.P.'s control the Swensons acquired a fourth ranch at Paducah and finally, in 1906, organized the corporation which bought the huge and historic Spur Ranch on the high plains at the base of the Texas Panhandle. The stockholders were Vanderlip, Schiff, Emery, and Swenson. Emery owned three-fifths of the stock. The story of the Spur Ranch is one of the great tales of the range—how this empire of grass was taken over by a bunch of New York bankers—how they developed a town in the middle of their holdings and sold off thousands of acres of farmlands between 1910 and 1915—how they combined the sturdy traditions of the Old West with the grim business methods of Wall Street.
Historic Texas Ranches Linked?

We find the Swenson family had close ties to three geographic regions of Texas (depicted visually in the inset map below):
  1. The area west and south of Houston within the old Austin's Colony, which would become the town of Freeport;
  2. The area west of Fort Worth and south of Vernon (adjacent to the Matador Ranch and Waggoner Ranch) where SMS Ranches would have headquarters at Stamford; and
  3. The area between the Nueces and Rio Grande Rivers that was won from Mexico by the U.S. during the war in 1845, when Texas was annexed by treaty as a state of the Union.
Known as the "Spur Syndicate," the Americans who bought the assets of the faltering Espuela Land and Cattle Co. in 1905 and the adjacent Spur Ranch in 1907 consisted of:
  • Eric P. and Swen Albin Swenson of the New York firm of S.M. Swenson and Sons, 
  • James J. Stillman,
  • Sigmund Neustadt (one of four principal partners of Hallgarten & Co, bankers, which opened a London office in 1912),
  • John J. Emery (grandson of a Cincinnati lard oil refiner/chemical magnate, whose company ultimately became part of National Distillers & Chemical Corp.), and 
  • Benjamin F. Yoakum.
Click map to enlarge
Espuela was a cattle-raising entity set up in 1884 in London, managed in Fort Worth, with securities issued and sold abroad to raise funds, but the unpredictable weather and market conditions proved too much for absentee owners. According to author Mira Wilkins there was a proliferation of mostly Scottish companies between 1880 to 1900 investing in cattle lands. Many of the directorships of these companies interlocked, and managers were often sent to America from Scotland, although ownership of the companies continued to be fragmented. As bonds or debentures came due, creditors' committees were formed by original investors, their heirs or assignees, as well as by creditors, to salvage assets by "winding up" or reorganizing into new companies with stock issued in the new names. It was a complicated process handled under the laws of the states where the land was situated. All the ranches shown on the inset map to the left were in part financed or in some way linked to these interlocking directors, though each ranch was a separately operated entity, each of which saw the importance of developing the old trail drives into a more modern rail distribution system to deliver beef on the hoof to the slaughterhouses located in the vicinity of Chicago.

Those same packing houses would share a financial interest with the cattle men in obtaining alternative financing from New York and Boston bankers. Initially, they were drawn to Swenson's bank, which operated as a branch of the Moses Taylor establishment which financed important railroads through Texas with help from B.F. Yoakum.

House v. Faulkner at p. 308
Yoakum got his start with Jay Gould's International and Great Northern Railroad, created in 1873 by the merger of the International Railway Company of T.W. House, and the Houston and Great Northern Railroad. The merger was facilitated by a law enacted by the carpetbagger state legislature in 1875, promising land owned by the state to be used to pay railroad builders to construct the railroad from the southern areas to the northern markets. It was such land grants along railroad lines, or scrip certificates which sold for almost nothing, that S.M. Swenson and English and Scottish investors acquired with the hope of raising cattle on the Texas high plains and rolling plains. Not until oil was discovered under some of these lands did the shareholders see a penny of profit--but that was still many years in the future at this point.
Jay Gould's Octopus-Like Grip on Texas

Col. Edward M. House
Calvin Coolidge would remark just more than a decade after Woodrow Wilson took office that "the chief business of the American people is business." He could just as well have said the chief business of American politics is business, and it would have described the motivations of both parties in getting their men elected to the White House. More than anything else, the machinations of the House political machine in Texas were motivated by his own family's business concerns -- first in Texas, but which ultimately expanded onto the international scene.

When T.W. House, Sr. died in 1880, his youngest son Edward Mandell House was forced to give up college at Cornell and return to Texas, first spending a year in Italy with his bride. In 1881 Ed House settled his wife and newborn daughter in Austin, the state capital, and became the first real political strategist in the state -- determined to wrest power away from the carpetbagger financiers and create a banking system that allowed southern-born entrepreneurs a stake in national finance. His father's estate, heavily weighted with non-liquid real estate holdings, was assigned for management among the House brothers by category, with the eldest in charge of banking interests, another with the sugar and rice lands in the southern part of the state, and Edward in charge of the estate's cotton plantations in central Texas, as well as with completing the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railroad (T&BV), which was set up to get the cotton to port for distribution.

By early 1905, negotiations were well underway to sell the 90-mile T&BV -- which had financing from Boston capitalists including T. Jefferson Coolidge, a great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson -- to the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico system then being consolidated by B.F. Yoakum. The father ofT.J. Coolidge, Sr., Joseph Coolidge, had worked with Augustine Heard & Co. in Canton, China, in 1839 alongside John Murray Forbes, who made him president of the Atchison Railroad in 1880. Forbes had poured profits from China (opium being then highly lucrative) into construction of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad and was also a large investor in the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe. The Coolidge and Ed House families each spent summers at Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts.

Benjamin Yoakum had been hired as traffic manager for the the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway, chartered by Uriah Lott in 1884, with financing from San Antonio bankers and businessmen. Lott had already by that time built the Corpus Christi, San Diego and Rio Grande line from Corpus Christi to Laredo, largely financed by Mifflin Kenedy. Yoakum was put in charge of the S.A. & A.P. when it was placed in receivership in 1890, while Eric P. Swenson served on its creditors' committee; Swenson in-laws, the Tilghmans, were also investors in this line.

Yoakum's mentor in railroading, Jay Gould of the Missouri Pacific system, entered Texas in about 1880, and he soon acquired control of the Texas and Pacific Railway Company and the International and Great Northern Railroad (I&GN) Company.

In the fall of 1892 a Galveston Daily News editorial lambasted land-grant legislation enacted 22 years earlier, entitled Act of the Legislature of the State of Texas, approved March 10, 1875, entitled "An Act for the Relief of the International Railroad Company, now consolidated with the Houston & Great Northern Railroad Company, under the name of the International Great Northern Railroad Company, as shown by Chapter 49. Acts Fourteenth Legislature. The editorial declared that the legislators had "transferred both public lands and public revenue to private hands. The measure worked mischief from the beginning" by distracting the corporate officers from their chartered business of railroading into land speculation. They had engineered a "political craze," led by Governor Richard Coke, followed by James S. Hogg, the attorney general, who, the writer said:

"made a grand dramatic display of litigious impetuosity to bear up the work of the former in the land subsidy and tax-exemption arrangement. Then on the heels of that impotent onset he dropped into the celebrated International and Great Northern receivership scheme with a complaisance that challenged universal admiration."
Governor Coke facilitated setting up a convention to enact the post-Reconstruction Constitution of 1876, which severely limited powers for both the legislature and the governor, imposed strict control over corporations, and forbade land subsidies for railroads. Coke then became a U.S. Senator and campaigned for Attorney General Hogg to be the new governor of Texas, who was elected in 1892 with the behind-the-scenes manipulations of Edward M. House. Hogg was a lawyer who had made it his mission to drive the outside looters from Texas, and determined the way to do that was to use a regulation scheme House had advocated in his anonymously published novel, Philip Dru, Administrator--first focusing on the railroads. According to a website styled The Railroad Commission of Texas:
While he was Attorney General, Hogg had taken on the railroads, prosecuting several of them as well as the rate-setting organization of railroads, the Texas Traffic Association, for monopolistic actions and conspiracy to discourage competition. In the race for governor which he won in 1890, Hogg had campaigned for the creation of a commission to regulate the railroads. In just a few decades, the railroads had turned from being the object of enticements by the state and many communities to being an object of derision. Why this change?...

In the Eastern United States, the railroads followed the people, connecting already existing population centers. In most of Texas, it was the other way around. From the time of the Republic, it was a recognized policy to set about attracting settlers from back east and the countries of Europe. One way to do that was to have a transportation system already in place. But, railroads are heavily capital intensive--it took a lot of money to do the necessary grading, buy and install the ties and rails, purchase the steam locomotives and cars. Since the companies did not want to invest if there was no market--no people and no goods--the state sweetened the pot by land grants, bond issuances, and loans.
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With the success that came from regulating railroads in favor of Texas consumers rather than Eastern capitalists, House and his associates broadened their interests and decided to expand Texas' influence nationally. By the fall of 1912, House had succeeded in finding his own malleable candidate and making him President--Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat from Virginia, then living in New Jersey. The same year he published a novel titled Philip Dru, Administrator, written under the name Anonymous, whose author would not be disclosed until 1918. A review of the pedantic tract, from Walter Lippmann, calls it a "didactic novel" intending to show an unknown "insider's" plans for America's future.

During his days in the state capital in Austin, Edward House had become close socially with James S. Hogg and W.T. Campbell of Lampasas, as well as with members of the Cruger banking family, though still maintaining ties with his mother's Shearn family, from Houston, and with his sister's family (the Caldwells and Munsons from the old Republic days). These mostly hidden ties would become part of the deep political roots lying beneath the 1913 Federal Reserve Act in Texas.

Click image to enlarge.
Before the Swensons could hope to extract and export sulphur from the area it was believed to exisit, they determined a need to build a distribution infrastructure into and out of that isolated location, a project best accomplished by linking themselves to an existing transportation network--the Gould system. The Galveston Daily News wrote in their April 8, 1914 edition that the Houston & Brazos Valley Railroad Company, operated by the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad, and the Freeport Terminal Company, also operated by the "Katy," as it was called, met for its annual board meeting had in Freeport to elect officers and directors. At that time, Eric Swenson was a vice president of the H&BV but not a member of the Freeport Terminal board.

Northern Bankers Invest War Profits in Texas Railroad

Swenson originally headed to New York via New Orleans in the early days of secession, less than five years before Charles Stillman, from an old Connecticut family, retired to Hartford. Stillman, it will be recalled, had been one of the first to invest in Texas when it was still part of Mexico, he and two of his brothers spending several decades during the middle of the nineteenth century capturing much of the shipping and mining wealth accruing from two wars. Once the civil war ended, however, he returned to spend the last ten years of his life in Connecticut.

James J. Stillman, though born to Charles and his wife in Texas, spent his youth in Connecticut with his mother, but he reached adulthood after Charles was back with the family. James Jewett Stillman was the only one of Charles Stillman's six children to marry (his wife was Elizabeth Pamela Goodrich). A daughter, born in 1876, was given the name of his eldest sister,Isabel Goodrich Stillman (called "Aunt Bell"), and a son was named Chauncey for Charles' own brother who lived in Cleveland, Ohio--this according to the book written by Chauncey Devereaux Stillman, which was published in 1956.

James Jewett Stillman, named for a business associate of his father's in New York, was born in 1850 and his sister a year or two later, at which time their mother took them back to Connecticut, to live near her sister in Hartford, while Charles remained in Brownsville except to visit them there from time to time, usually in the summer. During the 1850's letters to his brother in Cleveland mentioned mining interests he was acquiring in Mexico, by then defeated in the the war which followed the annexation of Texas. In his letters to his wife he also wrote about his partnerships with men who owned huge ranches in the part of Texas over which the war with Mexico was fought--the Nueces Strip lying south of the Nueces River.

Kenedy and Co.'s monopoly on the shipping trade ended when the civil war officially began, but by then all the partners were extremely wealthy, both in money and land. During the war Charles Stillman transferred all his assets from Brownsville to Matamoros, on the Mexican side of the border, putting his ships under Mexican registry. The U.S. government instituted a blockade of all Southern ports to prevent goods being shipped to or from those locations. Stillman used his ships to load Texan and other southern exports, especially cotton, which was bound for textile mills in England. He paid the Southern growers for the cotton, but the profit came when he delivered it to the foreign buyers who credited his account in the bank in New York City.

Charles' death which came in 1875, when his son was 25, gave James the task of consolidating and converting the family's Texas holdings by forming a cotton brokerage business in New York. Swenson had begun operations in New York as early as 1860 as cotton broker and banker for southern planters. Of course, it was the blockade runners who made the highest profits, but the men like Swenson who handled their accounts in the financial center also made out well.

Moses Taylor
James J. Stillman, intriguingly, entered banking under the wing of Moses Taylor, a heavy investor in the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. Other investors in this road included a Massachusetts-born man, William Marsh Rice, who had made his wealth in Texas during the same era as Thomas W. House (father of Edward Mandell House) and S.M. Swenson, who arrived in the Republic of Texas from Sweden a decade after Charles Stillman went to Mexico. Rice was often, like Swenson, accused of favoring the Union cause, but he did not pack up his money and leave Texas until years after the Swede had gone north. Instead, Rice worked from Houston to complete the railroad, which his father-in-law, Paul Bremond, had begun to bring cotton from central Texas to a port they wanted to create in Houston. Bremond selected Rice as a Houston and Texas Central Railroad director in 1872, along with himself and James J. Stillman's mentor, Moses Taylor. Others included the following men:
  • William Earl Dodge (born in Hartford, Connecticut before moving to New York in 1818) established Phelps, Dodge & Co. for his wife's father, Anson G. Phelps, while his father built a cotton factory in Connecticut. The family had links to the Greens and Lows, who were also involved in opium trade in China with Joseph Coolidge. 
  • W.J. Hutchins, a Galveston banker; 
  • Abraham Groesbeeck (born in New York around 1830, who was a large investor in Houston business, including the hotel purchased by, and later named for, William M. Rice), 
  • Cornelius Ennis, and 
  • William R. Baker, associated with the Houston and Texas Central Railroad in 1852 and later mayor of Houston, he was one of the partners in a wholesale firm in Houston with Sam. K. McIlhenny, Benjamin. A. Botts, Walter B. Botts, Wm. M. Rice, Fred. A. Rice and Wm. D. Cleveland.
    It should be pointed out that Swenson was obviously not an investor with Rice or Moses Taylor in 1872, nor was Stillman, who was still a mere trainee at Moses Taylor's City Bank. It was not until after the Galveston hurricane of 1900 that things would begin to change for both the Swenson and Stillman families--the same year, incidentally--that William M. Rice was murdered.