Jay Gould donated to many causes, including the Presbyterian Church, New York University, the University of the City of New York and Mount Vernon. Much of Mr. Gould’s charitable work was not publicly recognized because he preferred to keep his personal life very private and only those very close to him were aware of his generous contributions to society.
Jay Gould was very close to his wife and children and together, his family determined what charities they would fund. Each morning Mr. Gould held a family meeting, at which time his children could present options for charitable giving. Helen Gould, the eldest daughter, was well-known for her philanthropic ideals and made a generous donation of a library to New York University. Gould was also known to support education and when asked by his sister, he funded the building of a school in Camden, New York. Gould’s religious beliefs prompted him to make significant donations over the years to the Presbyterian Church, which included free passage for clergy on the railroads that he owned. He made a large gift of 80 acres to the Mount Vernon estate. Mr. Gould also gave substantially to the victims of the great Chicago fire of 1871.
According to W.T. Stead’s “The American Review of Reviewers,” Thurlow Weed, a distinguished philanthropist employed by Mr. Gould, described him as a “constant and liberal giver,” and shared that “His only condition is that there shall be no public blazonry of his benefactions.”