Helen Gould known for generous giving

Published 6:15 pm Saturday, September 22, 2012

Last week I mentioned a gift to the Austin YWCA back in 1909 from Miss Helen Gould of New York which helped launch the local organization.

Maybe readers guessed that she was the daughter of railroad barron Jay Gould, and a philanthropist of note in the early 1900s.

Helen Gould was born in 1868 in Manhattan. She enjoyed a life of privilege, the third child of Jay and Helen (Day Miller) Gould’s six children. When her father died in 1868, his estate was estimated to be worth $72 million.

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She is perhaps best remembered for donating $100,000 to the federal government in 1898 to support the Spanish-American war effort. She was also a generous benefactor to the YMCA, YWCA, Rutgers College and New York University where she attended law school.

Helen Gould married Finley Johnson Shepard in 1913. At that time she was 44 years old and her personal fortune was estimated at $30,000,000. Her new husband is described in the Ithaca (NY) Daily News as a self-made railroad man, “estimated fortune: nothing.”

The couple adopted five children. Helen Gould Shepard continued her philanthropic work until her death in 1938.

 Coming Soon to the HHH

•Social Concerns: Avoiding Bank Fraud Scams by Andrea Hodges from US Bank at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16. Free and open to the public. Please register at 433-4243 to attend.

•Austin’s Best Bartender BBQ: Friday, Oct. 19 at 5 p.m. Call for details.

•Halloween Costume Dance for Kids: Saturday, Oct. 27, from 3 to 5 p.m. $1 admission, offered in cooperation with the Mower County 4-H Ambassadors.