"I got to be a millionaire afore I know'd it hardly," remarked the Wall Street financier Daniel Drew (1797-1879).
An uneducated farm boy from Putnam County, New York, he became in turn a successful cattle drover, a circus clown, tavern keeper, a shrewd Hudson River steamboat operator, and an unscrupulous speculator. As the colorful "Uncle Daniel" of Wall Street-his whiskered face seamed with wrinkles and twinkling with steel-gray eyes -- time and again he disrupted the financial markets with manipulations whereby he either won or lost millions of dollars.
Having "got religion" upon hearing a scary hell-fire sermon at the age of fourteen, Drew was also a fervent Methodist. Rumors of his financial operations--epic struggles that pitted him against Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, and Jim Fisk, and that subjected him to threats of arrest and even kidnapping, and on one occasion to a most undignified flight from the state-baffled and disturbed the Methodists, who admittedly had little grasp of Wall Street but knew firsthand Brother Drew's tearful repentance at prayer meetings and his generosity in founding churches and seminaries.
With its dual commitment to religion and rascality, Drew's career is a rich study in contradictions, an exciting chronicle of high drama and low comedy capped by bankruptcy. To understand Drew in his complexity, the author argues, is to get a grip on the heady and exploitative age that produced him -- the yesterday of "smartness" and "go ahead" that helped engender the America of today. Based on primary sources, this is the first full-fledged biography of Drew, who hitherto has been known chiefly through a fictionalized and fraudulent account of 1910.
Subjects: History, Business
Understanding Bouck White
A man who wrote books, challenged authority,
made pottery, and built a castle with his own hands
NEW SCOTLAND Timeworn and weathered, the Helderberg castle still provokes rumors from its perch on the hill.
Charles Bouck Whites castle will be featured in a display from the New Scotland Historical Society at this years Altamont Fair. The exhibit will include previously unseen photos of the castle and its architect, said the societys president, Willard Osterhout.
Built in the 1930s, the castle was both home and workshop to Bouck White, who made Bouckware pottery that he sold from his studio there. After traveling to France as a war correspondent during the first World War, Bouck White returned to the States with a technique for making pottery without a kiln and with a French bride, said Osterhout.
His young bride crossed the Atlantic to live with him at his home in the Catskills. She left him after only a few days of matrimony. "He informed her that they didn’t need children," said Osterhout. "The books would be their children."
A graduate of Harvard University and an ordained minister, Bouck White was the author of several books, including his most famous, The Book of Daniel Drew, which chronicles the life and demonstrates the psychology of a 19th-Century Wall Street tycoon.
"Jesus was a working man," begins another of his books, The Carpenter and the Rich Man. Bouck White was a socialist, who once challenged Reverend Cornelieus Woelfkin at the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, attended by the Rockefellers, on the immorality of wealth.
Bouck White served time in jail twice, once for this interruption and later for desecrating the flag; he was also defrocked.
He came to the Helderbergs in the mid 1930s and began work with Carl and Sig Bergstorm on Federalsberg, which is what he called his castle and the land. The three of them built the castle entirely by hand, eschewing mechanized help.
They lived frugally, making money from the pottery that Bouck White sold and working on the home. Osterhout said, "They could live for a week on a soup bone."
"He was an eccentric," said Osterhout. "He only had that one lady friend and that didn’t last long."
The castle has changed hands several times since Bouck White suffered a stroke and moved into the Old Mens Home in Menands in 1944.
Elizabeth Smith, who bought it a few years ago after seeing an ad that read, "Castle in need of a night in shining armor," is looking to sell the property. "She calls it money pit," said Osterhout, because it is in need of so many repairs. Every winter, the structure deteriorates more and more, he said. "It breaks your heart to see it fall down," said Osterhout, but it’s so expensive to repair that you’d need to get grants in order to do everything.
Smith, who lives in New York City, will show the place if a group asks to see it; shes recently taken a group from the New Scotland Historical Society, said Osterhout.
The exhibit at the fair wont include trips to the site, but it will have photos and biographical information about Bouck White as well as some of his Bouckware pottery.
Coming from an exhibit put on by the historical society, the display, should dispel some of the rumors about the locally famous castle.
"After that we’re putting Bouck White back to bed for a while," said Osterhout of the exhibit. "He’ll be sleeping for another generation or so."