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James Goold Co., Albany Coach Manufactory, Jas. Goold & Co.
Albany Coach Manufactory (aka James Goold Co.), 1813-1873; James Goold Co., 1873-1913; The Goold Co., 1913-1951; Albany, New York
Associated Firms

Although they’re totally forgotten today, for the better part of a century Albany, New York’s James Goold Co. was one of the nation’s most celebrated rail car, sleigh and highway coach manufacturers. The firm constructed the coachwork for the DeWitt Clinton, the first passenger train operated this side of the Atlantic. James Goold's (b. July 28, 1790-d. Oct. 1, 1879) firm produced the very first horse cars, the horse-drawn ancestors of the streetcar, to be used in Albany. Two decades later he constructed the celerity stage coaches in which Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company delivered mail, cargo and settlers to the outposts of the west. He was the originator of the Albany Cutter, the country’s most popular sleigh, and provided Albany residents with carriages that rivaled those of James Brewster. When the horseless carriage arrived in upstate New York, the carriage trade turned to Goold for their custom coachwork.

Its founder, James Goold, was born in Granby, Hartford County, Connecticut, on July 28, 1790 to David (b.1875 in Lime, Conn.-d.1832) and Rebecca Granger (b. 1761 in Granby, Conn.-d.1837) Goold. His father, David Goold, was a farmer, in comfortable circumstances, who had also learned the trade of blacksmithing, at which he worked occasionally.

To put the year 1790 into perspective, George Washington had just been elected President of the United States, the US Capitol was still in New York City, Mozart's ‘Cosi Fan Tutte’ premiered in Vienna and 21-year-old Napoléon Bonaparte was an obscure lieutenant in the French artillery.

In 1794 the Goold family (he had five siblings, three brothers and two sisters) relocated to Stephentown, Rensselaer County, New York, where the children attended the local schoolhouse. At the age of 14 James moved to Troy, New York becoming an apprentice bookbinder with Obadiah Penniman & Co.; but this proved distasteful to him, and after a month's trial he returned to Stephentown, remaining there until December, 1805, when he took a position as an apprentice with William Clark, a carriage-maker at Pittsfield, Massachusetts. At the close of eighteen months' service, Clark failed, the factory closed, with Goold taking a similar position with Jason Clapp, who succeeded Pittsfield’s L. Pomeroy, with whom he remained during the summer of 1809, at which time he completed his apprenticeship.

The premiere issue (June, 1858) issue of the New York Coachmaker’s Magazine infers that Goold was also apprenticed with Col. Charles Chapman, of Northampton, Mass., the very same shop that turned out such coach building notables as James Brewster and Jason Clapp, his future employer. As Goold later worked for Clapp, who succeeded Pittsfield’s L. Pomeroy, and Northampton was located nearby (60 miles from Stephentown), the story is certainly plausible, although it’s not mentioned elsewhere. The short reference follows:

“In the year 1804, being then in the sixteenth year of his age, Mr. Brewster was apprenticed to Col. Charles Chapman, of Northampton, Mass., to learn the "art, mystery, and trade" of carriage-making. In this same shop, we believe, Messrs. James Goold, now of Albany, and Jason Clapp, of Pittsfield, Mass., both served their apprenticeships, whose portraits we hope to be able to present in our Gallery at a future day.”

In August 1809, he went to Coxsackie, New York as a journeyman carriage maker for John R. Vandenburgh. The following letter, dated 1810 and found among Mr. Goold's papers, provides fatherly advice on how to deal with employers and co-workers:

“As to your being among strangers, I have always thought it safe not to be too intimate with any, not to interest myself with others' disputes; and when any man told me all he knew, I took care not to tell him anything.Be faithful to your employer, honest to all you deal with, pleasant in the house, civil to all about you; not quick to resent an affront, not soon angry. Keep a bright look­out for such as are bad company or bad advisers. Remember the Sabbath, and attend meeting reverently. Take conscience for your guide, and do nothing that will cause repentance.

“Your father and friend, David Goold.”

Vandenburgh laid him off during the winter of 1809-1910, and Goold took the opportunity to further his education at an academy kept by Simon Lusk in New Lebanon, Columbia County, New York.

Four months later he went looking for work, visiting Newark, New Jersey, New York City, and finally New Haven, Connecticut, where he worked until December 26th, 1810, at which time he returned to Stephentown to spend some time with his parents and formulate plans for his future.

Goold hoped to open his own shop in Albany, but failing to secure the needed capital, took a position across the Hudson at the Troy, New York carriage works of Luke Thrall for whom he worked for a period of six months, returning to the family home in Stephentown in November of 1812, more determined than ever to establish his own workshop.

As the winter snow breathed its last, Goold’s plans came to fruition and on April 15, 1813 he rented a building from Peter Gansevoort, on the corner of Maiden Lane and Dean Street located on the ground later occupied by Stanwix Hall, and more recently the Albany Federal Building and Post Office.

Now a successful 24-year-old businessman, Goold wed his sweetheart, Elizabeth Vail (b.1769 to Samuel Vail and Siche Doughty - d.1882), on January 30, 1814, and to the blessed union was born thirteen children who included Henry, John S., Jane B., Mary E., and Fanny B. Goold.

Two years afterward (1816) Goold leased premises on Division-street, below Broadway, then known as South Market-street (now Broadway); and in 1823, having erected new buildings on Union-street, he removed part of the business there, which by that time was popularly known as the Albany Coach Manufactory.

In early 1831 Goold & Co. received a commission for what would prove to be his legacy, the construction of six coach tops for the Mohawk and Hudson Rail Road Company. Those coaches were the first passenger cars constructed for an American railroad, and their motive power was furnished by the DeWitt Clinton, America’s most famous steam rail road engine which was named for the recently deceased governor of New York.

The 'DeWitt Clinton' locomotive was constructed by Cold Spring, New York's West Point Foundry (1817-1911), the same firm that constructed the 'Best Friend of Charleston' - America's first locomotive - for the South Carolina Canal & Railroad Co. in 1830. It is believed that the foundry constructed the wheeled frames upon which Goold's coach tops were affixed, but I could find no period documentation to support the claim.

The Goold company wisely kept the contract between James Goold and the Mohawk & Hudson Railway Co. which follows in its entirety:

“To the Commissioner of the Mohawk and Hudson Rail Road Company.

“Sir: I propose and agree to furnish for said Railroad Company Six Coach tops. That is, to furnish jacks and jack bolts and braces with thorough braces, and put them on the frames of the company's rail road carriages to support the coach tops—The coach tops to be finished and hung in the style of workmanship generally adopted in Albany and Troy for post coaches—The materials and workmanship to be first quality—A baggage rack and Boot to be hung at each end —The length of coach body to be seven feet eight inches between the jacks—The general plan of the coach to conform to the plan and explanation given by the engineer of the company—To have three inside seats—the backs of the end seats to be stuffed with moss—and all the seats to be stuffed with hair—To have a door on each side—To have an outside seat on each end across the top of the coach with suitable foot board—Also a seat at each end for driver or brakeman, to drop below to a suitable height to make the rack his foot board—An oil cloth to be rigged to the center rod on coach top to cover baggage, and one at each end rolled to the back of the seat to protect it from rain—The whole completed, and to be hung on the carriage frames at some point on the lines of said Rail road as follows—Two coaches to be hung by the first day of July next, and the remaining four by the first day of August next—The work to be subjected to the inspection of the engineer of the said Railroad company—The whole to be complete as aforesaid for the sum of three hundred and ten Dollars each—

“It is understood that the above coaches are not to be provided with lamps or mud leathers.

On the back is inscribed the following:

“The written proposition is accepted on the part of the Mohawk and Hudson Rail road comp'y by order of the Commissioner—

“JOHN B. JERVIS, Engineer M. & H. Rail R'd Comp'y.

“Albany, 23 April, 1831.

During the next decade Goold constucted small numbers of throughbrace-hung bodies for northeastern rail operators, even developing a double-deck type to increase passenger-carrying capacity.

In 1836 he made large additions to his new manufactory and removed his entire business there, delegating the old Division street factory to that of a lumber curing and storage facility, a purpose that was to be short-lived as the structure and its stock were subsequently destroyed by fire.

On May 25th, 1838, the new Union street manufactory and its machinery, stock, both finished and unfinished, were almost totally destroyed by another fire, with a reported loss of $50,000, only $20,000 of which was covered by insurance.

Three days later (May 28, 1838) a committee of Albany businessmen headed by Erastus Corning called on Goold and tendered him a loan of a considerable amount without interest, the subscription list numbering about fifty persons. Goold accepted their proposition and a new manufactory rose, Phoenix-like, from the ruins of the former.

In those days new travelled at a much slower pace, and the following account of the fire appeared two weeks later in the June 16, 1838 issue of the Milwaukee Sentinel:

“Great Fire in Albany

“A most destructive fire took place in Albany, we learn the Argus, on the morning of the 15th. It broke out in James Goold’s carriage manufacturing establishment – demolishing his valuable buildings on Union and Divisions streets - several buildings on the opposite side of Union, extending on the west side of Union and Hamilton, and up Hamilton to within one door of Green street. Mr. Goold’s loss is at least $45,000, and the insurance on his property only about $20,000. A young man named McKinney lost his life by being buried beneath the ruins.”

A display advertisement in the September 17, 1838 Washington Globe states that the factory was already rebuilt, although most other sources state it was not fully operational until October of that year:

“Albany (N.Y.) Coach Manufactory

“The subscribers, whose manufactory was destroyed by fire in May last, would advertise their friends and customers, and particularly the mail contractors, that their establishment is rebuilt and enlarged, and second to no other in the United States, and that they are again prepared, as heretofore, to execute all orders for mail coaches, and all kinds of pleasure carriages, in as workmanlike a manner, on as good terms, and as promptly, as any others.


“Albany, N. Y. Sept. 13-Sept 17—6t

“Editors of papers in the South and West who noticed the subscribers' loss by the fire, would do them a particular favor, and possibly promote the interests of the subscribers, by noticing in some brief manner the fact that they have again rebuilt.

“J. G. & CO.”

The new Union street factory was described in some detail in the April 11, 1839 issue of the Albany Journal:

“Albany Coach Manufactory.

“Some time in May last, the large Coach Manufacturing Establishment of James Goold Co., was reduced to ashes from a disastrous fire. The loss to Mr. Goold was over $50,000. Mr. Goold had, but three years before, been a heavy sufferer by a similar calamity. He determined, nevertheless, at the solicitation and with the aid of friends, to rebuild his establishment; and a spacious and beautiful structure has risen, Phoenix-like, on the ruins of his former building. This Establishment is three stories high, contains fourteen large rooms, and covers 11,500 square feet of ground. The whole exterior of the building is proof against fire. Four large cisterns, communicating with each other, are provided in case fire should break out inside. Each branch of the Coach-making business has its large and commodious apartment. The machinery is worked with steam by one of the most finished and beautiful engines (from MANY'S Foundry, in this City,) that we have ever met with. From 60 to 70 hands are now employed in the manufacture of Stage Coaches, Barouches, Carriages, c.c. Our only object is to let his numerous friends abroad know that he has a splendid Establishment which he hopes, by means of their continued patronage, to soon see in the ‘full tide of successful experiment.’ The establishment is well worth a visit by both citizens and strangers.”

His manufactory, situated on Division, Union and Hamilton streets, is a brick building three stories and basement in height, and in the memorable month of August, 1848, was the first building by means of which the progress of the flames of the big fire of that month were stayed. Carpets, etc., saturated with water, were used to hang out at the windows, and it to use as the barrier to prevent the flames from spreading towards south Pearl street, of which there was great danger at one portion of that afternoon. The last drop of water had been used in the manufactory that was available, when through the interposition of Divine Providence a shower of rain came up and the progress of the fire was stayed, and it was eventually extinguished.

During the 1850s Goold constructed a small number of steam-powered rail cars. The self-contained vehicle featured a front-mounted boiler/engine with the passenger and baggage compartments located at the rear. The design attracted much attention at the time and in 1859 Goold constructed a novel steam-driven sleigh for the Russian government.

The motive power unit, designed by Stephen A. Seymour, consisted of a boiler/engine mounted on runners that transferred power to the ground via a complex system of gears powered a pair of early crawler tracks - essentially endless chains equipped with spikes to provide traction over ice and snow. Goold supplied the six throughbrace-hung runner-equipped passenger cars which were towed behind the engine.

During the late 1850s two items manufactured by the Albany Coach Works of James Goold were in much demand; the Albany Cutter, an attractive horse-drawn sleigh that became all the rage in New York City; and the Celerity Coach (celerity being a synonym for ‘quickness’), a sturdy yet lightweight stage coach that found favor with John Butterfield’s Overland Express.

The Albany Cutter remains Goold’s most important contribution to vehicle design. The firm’s manufacture of sleighs coincides with its organization, although the introduction of the sleek Albany Cutters didn’t commence for at least another decade. The firm’s first sleighs were based upon the then-common piano box sleigh, so-named as some manufacturers created the body from discarded wood from an upright piano to which was affixed a curved or angled dash with two simple bench seats. The body was then mounted on top of a light hardwood frame that rode upon a pair of candy-cane shaped wooden runners.

While a horse-drawn sleigh is generally constructed to transport a family of four (or more), a cutter is specifically designed for two passengers, sitting side-by-side - their automotive equivalents being, the touring car and the speedster. Ideally suited to courting couples, the cutter was drawn by a single steed, and it debuted sometime before 1800. Although an occasional cutter featured a small jump seat for a third occupant, typically a child, most stuck to the two-passenger ideal.

Two firms became well-known for their cutters, both of which were named for their respective cities of origin. The conservatively styled Portland cutter was originally produced near Portland, Maine by Peter Kimball & Sons (the Sons included C.P. Kimball and Boston’s Kimball Bros.) while the much more stylish Albany Cutter, was manufactured by our subject, Albany, New York’s James Goold Co.

The Albany Cutter was easily the more stylish of the two types, its runners carefully steam-bent to match the contours of the barrel-chested coachwork (aka swell-bodied) which was also created using steam-bent components. Goold produced a four-place version which was popularly known as the Albany Sleigh and the firm’s creations were routinely exported to Russia where they were considered the best in the world.

The significantly cheaper Portland Cutter was the most polpular of the two, the Albany version reserved for a more exclusive clientele who purchased their sleighs from the world's most celebrated coachbuilder, Brewster, whose advertisement in the December 11, 1869 edition of the New York Herald boasted:

“SLEIGHS OF THE CELEBRATED MANUFACTURE OF James Goold Co., of Albany. A full assortment for sale by the sole agents, BREWSTER CO., Fifth avenue, corner Fourteenth.”

During the 1850s the firm constructed large numbers of stage coaches for US Mail operators located in the Northeast part of the country. A representative of the firm made regular trips to Washington, D.C. for the purpose of obtaining the names of US Mail contractees so that Goold could submit bids for their coaches. One large contract landed by the firm involved the construction of 100 Celerity Coaches for the Butterfield Overland Mail Co.

John Warren Butterfield (b.1801–d.1869) started his career as a professional stage coach driver working out of Albany, New York, conveying passengers and freight to Utica and back on coaches likely constructed by the Albany Coach Manufactory. During the first half of the 19th century Butterfield’s various enterprises established stage routes throughout New York State, built the Black River Railroad, created a Lake Ontario shipping company and a constructed the Utica, New York street railway.

In 1850 Butterfield, Wasson & Co. (John W. Butterfield) merged with Livingston, Fargo & Co. (William G. Fargo) and Wells & Co. (Henry Wells) as the American Express Co. under the direction of Henry Wells. In 1852 some of the same persons founded a west coast operation, Wells Fargo & Co., when Butterfield and other directors objected to the proposal that American Express extend its operations to California.

In 1857 Butterfield and a number of Wells-Fargo directors formed the Butterfield Overland Mail Company in order to bid on a lucrative contract to carry the US Mail between St. Louis, Missouri and San Francisco, California. They were awarded the $600,000 contract on September 15, 1857 and one year later the first west-bound stage left St. Louis. Missouri with John Butterfield and Waterman L. Ormsby, a reporter for the New York Herald, aboard.

The route required the use of various types of vehicles; light mud wagons, Concord stages and medium duty Celerity stages. During late 1857 contracts were let out for the 250 vehicles required over the course of the 6-year contract, with Goold winning a 100-vehicle contract for the construction of Celerity coaches. The contract for the Concord coaches was split between Abbot-Downing and the Eaton Gilbert Co. of Troy, New York.

The heavy Concord coaches were for use on the Easternmost portion of the stage line where their increased passenger-carrying capacity was best utilized. Once they line entered the foothills of the Rockies, Butterfield transferred its cargo and passengers to the lightweight, yet durable Celerity coach, which proved superior over rough terrain, and created less of a load for the often overtaxed teams of horses used to traverse the desert.

Instead of having a heavy wooden top, typical of most Concord-style coaches, the Celerity had a light frame structure with a thick duck or canvas covering, which reduced its unsprung weight substantially. The celerity’s wheels were also set further apart to help stabilize it and it wheels were shod with wide steel rims to keep it from sinking into the soft roadside sand.

While not as comfortable for daytime travelers as the larger, well-appointed overland coaches, they were designed for passenger travel at night.

Although Butterfield had never ventured west of Buffalo he rode with the first 2 bags of mail on the first leg of the journey to Los Angeles, his only companion being a correspondent for the New York Herald.

Although Butterfield got off in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Waterman L. Ormsby, the line’s first through-passenger, remained aboard for the entire 24-day $200 trip to San Francisco. A portion of the inaugural run was completed using a Goold-built Celerity coach and Ormsby described its sleeping accommodations as follows:

“As for sleeping, most of the wagons are arranged so that the backs of the seats let down and form a bed the length of the vehicle. When the stage is full, passengers must take turns at sleeping. Perhaps the jolting will be found disagreeable at first, but a few nights without sleeping will obviate that difficulty, and soon the jolting will be as little of a disturbance as the rocking of a cradle to a sucking babe. For my part, I found no difficulty in sleeping over the roughest roads, and I have no doubt that anyone else will learn quite as quickly. A bounce of the wagon, which makes one’s head strike the top, bottom, or sides, will be equally disregarded, and “nature’s sweet restorer” found as welcome on the hard bottom of the wagon as in the downy beds of the St. Nicholas. White pants and kid gloves had better be discarded by most passengers.”

On his arrival in San Francisco, Ormsby stated:

"Had I not just come out over the route, I would be perfectly willing to go back, but I now know what Hell is like. I've just had 24 days of it."

John W. Butterfield experienced financial embarrassment in early 1860 and his share in the firm was surrendered to his partners to whom he owed the debt, placing control of the Overland Express in the hands of the directors that controlled American Express and Wells-Fargo. The same group subsequently acquired a controlling interest in their remaining competitor, the Holladay Overland and Express Company – the originators of the ‘Pony Express’ – and in 1866 consolidated all of their express holdings under the Well-Fargo name.

Butterfield was no longer involved and retired to his adopted home of Utica, N.Y., where he had established a number of business and commercial buildings. He served as Utica’s mayor from 1865-1867 after which he suffered a stroke, passing away in 1869.

James Goold’s nephew, Walter R. Bush, became a partner in the firm sometime prior to 1856, as his name was listed below that of James Goold in the firm’s national advertisements. Subsequently one of Goold’s son-in-laws, John N. Cutler, became a partner, as did Goold’s son, John S. Goold, the firm’s listing in the 1865 Albany Directory follows:

“James Goold & Co., corner Union, Division and Hamilton Sts. James Goold, John S. Goold, John N. Cutler.”

By the early 1860s a number of coach manufacturers had established plants on the west coast and Goold's stage business went into decline. They then turned their attention to the construction of railway cars, for which they were already well-known due to their involvement with the DeWitt Clinton in 1833.

Goold was already producing large numbers of horse-drawn street cars for regional surface transport operators, and the same vehicles were easily converted over to ride on rails. In addition to their luxuriously-appointed passenger cars, the firm manufactured more utilitarian cars that could haul livestock, coal, etc., and is a known supplier of 'Kitchen' and 'Transport' rail cars to the Union Army.

Several South American surface transportion operators purchased Goold rail cars during the War, among them a Buenos Aires railroad and a Chilean street car operator who purchased a number of double-deck numbers for use in Valparaiso.

In 1865, James Goold retired from the business after fifty-two years of active service, with his son, John S. Goold, and son-in-law, John N. Cutler, taking charge of the firm.

The roof of Goold’s Union street factory was damaged by an especially heavy snowfall, the January 02, 1869 newswires reporting:

“Building Crushed by Snow. Albany, N. Y., Jan. 2. - A large building on Union street, belonging to James Goold, and used as a carriage factory, was crushed by snow this morning. The building was completely wrecked.”

The 1871 Albany Directory included the following members of the Goold family:

James Goold (James Goold & Co.); Augustus G. Goold, carriagemaker; John C. Goold, gen. supt. (James Goold & Co.); John S. Goold (James Goold & Co.); Henry Goold, music teacher; Henry Goold (same home address as James Goold), law student (same home address as John S. Goold).

Several of the firm's most popular lines were highlighted in the following article from the January 19, 1872 issue of the New York Times:

“Our State Institutions XVII; The Manufactures of Albany:

“The Albany Coach Manufactory, of which James Goold & Co. are the proprietors, is one of the largest carriage and sleigh-building factories in the country. It makes a very fair bid for being the oldest. The business was established by Mr. James Goold, in 1813. He is still head of the firm and though in his eighty-third year, is a hale, hearty and fine-looking old man, delighting to tell of the village of Albany as he first knew it. The manufactory has for half a century been celebrated for its fine carriages and sleighs – especially for their strength and durability. A gentleman of Syracuse is still driving a sleigh built by Mr. Goold in 1818. It has a very patriarchal appearance, but is said to be as sound as ever. It seems almost incredible that a sleigh should last for fifty-three years; but there is no doubt of the fact. Mr. Goold originated the famous ‘Albany style’ of sleighs, which have not only found their way all through the Northern States of the Union, but even to northern Europe, where they are as much prized as an Erard piano, a Manton fowling-piece or a Peters drag. The fashions of sleighs are as varied and changeable as the fashions in chignons or ladies’ dresses. Something fresh in the way of design is always in demand, and it is by catering to this love of change, and by employing none but the most skilled workmen, and using the very best materials, that the firm have attained their great reputation. Some of their new sleighs are beautiful specimens of the coach-builder’s art, and quite make on long for eighteen inches of snow and a moonlit night. A magnificent four-horse sleigh has just been completed, and will soon be rushing along before the fast trotter of a well-known New York banker. The many store-rooms contain every variety of carriage, from the elegant barouche to the sporting buggy – landaus, phaetons and broughams. Every carriage built at this factory is finished with steel axles and steel tires - a combination of lightness and durability. All the iron and machinery work is done in the factory; also the bending of the wood for the runners and bodies of sleighs, of which hardly a single part has a flat surface. Mr. Brewster, the great New York carriage builder, buys nearly all his sleighs of James Goold & Co.”

The 1873 death of James Goold's son, John S. Goold, resulted in a change in management. Another son, A.S.B. Goold, took over management of the firm and John S. Goold's son, John Chester Goold (James' grandson), joined the firm, the 1874 Albany Directory listing reflecting the change in management:

“James Goold & Co., corner Union, Division and Hamilton Sts. John Chester Goold, A. S. B. Goold.”

John Chester Goold and Mrs. A. S. B. Goold (both J. Goold & Co.) were listed in 1875 directory as was Henry Goold, civil engineer (with N.Y.C. & H.R.); Henry Goold, music teacher; Augustus G. Goold, carriagemaker; and William D. Goold, clerk.

The October 2, 1879 issue of the New York Times announced the death of the patriarch of the Goold family:

“James Goold, one of the oldest carriage makers in the country, died in Albany yesterday morning, in the ninetieth year of his age. Mr. Goold made the first passenger cars used in the country, for the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad Company. He also manufactured coaches, cars, carriages, sleighs, &c., that have been used in all parts of the civilized globe. His cars many years ago were used in nearly all parts of the United States, and many were manufactured for Europe and South America, while a large portion of his finer manufactured sleighs were for the Russian Trade.”

His obituary in the Carriage Monthly provided a few more details of JAmes Goold's business life:

“Mr. Goold commonly employed about one hundred hands, although this number was increased from time to time as occasion required. His business was most successful during the two years preceding the fire in 1838, when, considering the times, he was in better circumstances than when, in after years, the amount of manufactured work handled had largely augmented. At that time his skill as a builder, and the absence of any worthy competitor, gave him the monopoly of the business in his vicinity. He was also very successful during the last war. At no time, during the sixty-six years that he was actively engaged as a manufacturer, did he ever fail, or compromise, or allow his note to go to protest. How many members of the carriage trade, even the most eminent, can show such a record?

“Those admitted to partnership, during his later years, were all mem­bers of his family - his children and grand-children, and at one period the firm represented three generations. The business is now conducted by his two grandsons, Mr. John C. Goold and Mr. Wm. D. Goold, and it was one of the last wishes expressed by him, that the business should go on as usual, after his death; and as far as it was possible he arranged matters with this end in view.

“For several weeks previous to his death, he was well aware of his approaching end, but it did not affect his cheerfulness. He several times visited the cemetery, and considered the arrangement of the resting-place he was soon to occupy. On one of these occasions, he stopped his carriage while passing a field of ripe wheat, cut a few well ­filled stalks, and directed that they be preserved with care, to be laid upon his bier, in place of any ostentatious parade of flowers. In ripe old age, filled with honor, he died at his home in Albany, on October 1st, in his ninetieth year.”

The death of the senior member of the Goold family coincided with the introduction of the Cutler mail chute, a novel invention created by James Goold’s grandson, James Goold Cutler. Born on April 24, 1848 in Albany, New York to John N. and Mary E. (Goold) Cutler, he spent a number of his summers during his educational years working in his grandfather’s carriage factory, and became quite adept at painting carriages. He embarked upon a course of study in architecture, establishing his own firm in Rochester, New York, where in 1879 he installed a prototype mail chute system of his own design in a high-rise building he had designed in downtown Rochester.

Tenants of the upper floors of the Ellwood building could simply drop their mail into the chute, which would carry it down to the lobby where it would be collected by a postal worker. The system proved so successful that he soon founded a business to manufacture the collection system, for which he was awarded a US patent on September 11, 1883. The Cutler Manufacturing Co. (later Cutler Mail Chute Co.) eventually installed over 1200 of the systems in multistory buildings across the country, making him quite wealthy. The successful businessman, philanthropist and Mayor of Rochester (1904 to 1907) once stated that he was as proud of his ability as a carriage painter as he was of anything else he had accomplished.

In 1883 the Goold Company was finally incorporated with John Chester Goold, President, and William D. Goold, Secretary. When John Chester Goold died on November 4, 1885, William D. Goold became president and treas.

November 5, 1885 Amsterdam Daily Democrat (NY):


“John Chester Goold, president of the Goold Carriage Manufacturing Company, died yesterday morning at his residence on Greenbush Heights, of Typhoid Fever, after an illness of two weeks. He was born in 1847.”

Although the original Dewitt Clinton train was scrapped in 1833, the New York Central Railroad, successors to the Mohawk & Hudson Railroad, built a full scale and operational reproduction of the DeWitt Clinton, complete with three carriages, for their display at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

The May 2, 1893 issue of the Syracuse Herald covered the replica’s westward journey through Central New York while en route to Chicago:

“Welcomed By Thousands – Arrival of the Historic DeWitt Clinton Train – Drawn by Locomotive No 999, the Greatest Engine Ever Built – D. F. Hutchinson of Canastota, Who Was a Passenger in 1838, Aboard.

“The anxiously looked-for and widely advertised exhibition train of the New York Central railroad, drawn by No. 999, arrived in the city at 9:30 o'clock this morning and was greeted all along Washington street by thousands of people who had congregated to see the counterpart of the first train ever run in New York State and the third engine built in the United States.

“Conductor W. M. Clark was in charge of the train, and Engineer George S. Minka was at the throttle. These men have charge of the train along the entire New York Central line. Engineer Charles Hogan got on the engine here and acted as pilot in the trip over the western division.

“The passengers on the train were mostly railroad officers and newspaper men. The railroad officers present were Master Mechanic William Buchanan, the builder of engine No. 999; Assistant Superintendent J.R. Leonard, General Agent F.J. Wolfe, Travelling Passenger Agent A.K. Brainard, Master Car Builder L. Packard and J.F. Callahan, advertising agent.

“The train left New York at 7 o'clock yesterday morning and all along the route was greeted by thousands of people, who cheered as it passed the stations. At Albany it seemed the whole city was gathered at the station. At West Albany the railroad employees, numbering, more than three thousand were arranged on one aide of the track, and directly opposite this army of men stood their wives, mothers, sisters and sweethearts waving handkerchiefs and flags as the train, came in sight.

“The greatest demonstration however, was at Fonda, where an excursion of a thousand persons from Johnstown and Gloversville arrived soon after the train stopped. The passengers on the excursion train, were wild in their enthusiasm, and climbed all over the train.

“Big Reception in the Mohawk Valley.

“The train arrived at Little Falls about the time that the large manufacturing interests in that town were closing their day's work, and it seemed to the railroad officers as if the whole village was at the station. At Herkimer, although it was dark and the rain was coming down in torrents, the crowd was so great that the engineer of the South Shore Limited, which passes the station about the time that the special train arrived, was obliged to slow down in order not to run over any of the spectators.

“The Clinton arrived at Utica at 8:40, making a portion of the fifteen mile run from Herkimer at the high rate of sixty miles an hour. Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Leonard were on the engine at the time, The train was welcomed at Utica by hundreds of people, and as the schedule provided for it to remain at this station overnight, in order that all the people along the line over which the train was to pass might see it, many more visited it. At 6 o'clock this morning the station yard was filled by men, women and children who wanted to see the wonderful exhibit. The train left Utica at 7:30 this morning, twenty minutes behind the schedule time. As it passed out of the station it was bid farewell by the explosion of torpedoes.

“Although a stop was net made at Whitesboro, hundreds of people were at the station, and the same showing was made by the Oriskany people. The first stop was made at Rome, at 7:50, and a big crowd at the station cheered lustily as the train stopped. The school girls and shop girls waved their handkerchiefs, while the men on the train returned the salute by waving flags.

“The crowds did not seem to diminish at Green's Corners and Verona. At Oneida a big crowd was at the station, and the scenes witnessed at the Rome station were re-enacted. Hugh Parker of The Oneida Post joined the party here.

“The run from Oneida to Canastota was made at the rate of sixty miles an hour. Among-the people gathered at the station at Canastota was D. P. Hutchinson, who was born in Madison county in 1816. He was one of the passengers on the train on its second trip, and was induced by Mr. Leonard to accompany the party to Syracuse. He attracted attention all along the road as he sat in the antique carriages, and after the train had passed through the tunnel in this city he rode on the outside. As the train went slowly through the city he was cheered by people gathered at the various crossings.

“In Vanderbilt Square

“On arriving at Vanderbilt Square the engine was detached from the train and run up into the yard for coal. and run up into the yard for coal. Great numbers climbed over the cars.

“Among them was Richard Halt of No. 1,734 East Washington street, who rode on the road in 1883. A speech was demanded of Mr. Hutchinson, and be replied with a story of the way trains were run in the early days. After coaling, the engine backed down to Vanderbilt Square, where it was attached to the train and pulled into the station. Assistant Superintendent Beach, accompanied by Mayor Amos and Arthur Yates, boarded the train and started west at 9:50 over the Auburn road.

“Empire State Express, No. 999, is certainly the largest and handsomest engine on the Central railroad. As she stood beside other engines they appeared to be pygmies. The engine was built under the direction of Master Mechanic Buchanan, and weighs 102 tons. The drive wheels are seven feet six inches in diameter, and at every turn of the engine advances twenty-three feet. The cab is of polished black walnut, and is trimmed in silver letters. The name ‘Empire State Express’ is inscribed in German silver letters on the tender. The tubes which are in the boiler were made in this city at the Syracuse Tube works. The engine consumes on an ordinary trip about five tons of coal and is capable, when placed to its fullest speed, of running one hundred miles an hour.

“The DeWitt Clinton Train.

“The DeWitt Clinton was built at the West Point foundry at the foot of Beach street, New York city, in 1831. She is mounted on four wheels, four feet six inches In diameter. There are two cylinders, five and a half inches in diameter, with a ten inch stroke. The engine weighs about six tons and the boiler has thirty copper tubes each two and a half inches in diameter. She was run on trial trips on the Mohawk & Hudson railroad at various times from July 2d, 1831, to August 9th of the same year, when the first regular trip was made. The passengers on this occasion were Erastus Corning, Mr. Lansing, ex-Governor Yates, J.J. Boyd, Thurlow Weed, Mr. Van Zant, ‘Billy’ Winne, penny postman, John Townsend, Major Meigs, Old Hays, High Constable of New York, Mr. Dudley, Joseph Alexander of the Commercial bank, Lewis Benedict and J.J. DeGraft.

“The engineer on this trip was David Matthews and John T. Clark was the conductor. Mr. Matthews was still living in California a few years ago and he sent to General Manager J.M. Toucey of the Central railroad a series of pictures of the old train and of other ancient railroad stock with his personal comments and recollections. The pictures are inscribed ‘Drawn at San Francisco, California, July, 1885, for the boys by their father, David Matthews, who ran the DeWitt Clinton, drawing the first passenger train in New York State, August 9th, 1831, Mohawk & Hudson railroad.’

“The fuel used on the first trip was dry pitch pine, coal having: been previously tried, but not working satisfactory. As there was no spark arrester on the stack the sparks and the smoke poured back so on the passengers that they were obliged to raise their umbrellas in order to protect themselves.

“The covers were soon burned and the passengers were obliged to knock the sparks off their neighbors shoulders. When the train, stopped to take water - an attempt was made to remedy the disagreeable jerks by taking a rail off from a neighboring fence and tying it fast between each, car by means of packing yarn. The party after partaking of refreshments at Schenectady returned to Albany, completing the first regular trip in New York State.”

After fourteen years of service the (replica) 'DeWitt Clinton' was then stored at Karner, near West Albany, from which place it was moved in June, 1920, and placed on exhibition in the Grand Central Terminal.

By 1934, Henry Ford was looking for examples of early American railroad equipment to add to the mid-19th century locomotives he had already acquired. Ford inquired whether he might have his own De Witt Clinton replica made—but was instead offered the already existing replica, with the condition that it periodically travel to fairs and expositions on behalf of the New York Central. The locomotive replica and its three-car train joined the museum collections, but continued to venture out to events such as the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair and the Chicago Railroad Fair of 1948.

The replica DeWitt Clinton has now achieved considerable significance of its own. A wooden model kit of the replica was released in 1948 by the Strombecker Company and Danbury Mint released a version in Pewter. More recently Lionel and Bachmann made operational replicas in O and HO gauge, respectively.

The obituary column of the June 1895 issue of the Carriage Monthly:


“William D. Goold, president of the James Goold Co., of Albany, New York, was born in Albany in 1854, and with the exception of seven or eight years, of his early youth spent near Rochester, he has lived there all his life. He received his education at the Boys' Academy in his native city, and after leaving there took a special course for one year at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy. After leaving the Institute he went into a large iron works in Albany, intending to spend a year in the machine shop, a year in the pattern shop, and another in the foundry. When he had been there a year and a half, however, his father, John S. Goold, then managing partner in the business of James Goold & Co., died, and John C. Gould, William's older brother and junior partner in the business, urged him to take a position with the company, which he did in 1874. He worked his way up through the various positions of clerk, salesman, traveling man and superintendent, until in 1883, when the business of James Goold & Co. was incorporated, he was elected secretary of the company. He held this office until the death of John C. Goold, in 1885, when he was elected president, which office he has filled ever since, and has succeeded, by his energy and business tact, in record­ing for the company ten very prosperous business years.”

1899 Albany Directory:

“James Goold Co., Broadway foot of Schuyler, Capital $100,000. William D. Goold, Pres.; Charles B. Goold, sec., Carriages & sleighs.”

1910 Albany Directory:

“James Goold Co., Broadway foot of Schuyler, Capital $100,000. William D. Goold, pres.; Henry Goold, vice-pres.; Charles B. Goold, sec. Carriages & Sleighs.”

Whether in years to come the descendants of the present members of the firm, William D. Goold and his two sons, Ernest M. Goold and Donald B. Goold, will find the same romance in their new line of activity only time can tell. Perhaps in generations to come the most modern automobile chassis of today will be placed in a great storage room and viewed by the persons living then, surrounded by something of the same halo of romance which enfolds the Lafayette coach today.

2-16-1911 The Automobile:

“ALBANY, N. Y., Monday, Feb. 20- A Showing 137 cars of 56 'different makes, together with a good line of accessories, the second annual automobile show, under the auspices of the Albany Automobile Dealer's Association, was opened Saturday night to last for a week. There are 45 exhibitors and the show is being held in the State Armory.”

The Albany Garage Co. showed two Peerless, one Simplex, one James Goold Co., a Hart-Kraft truck.

2-15-1912 The Automobile:

mahogany roof; has wind-shield, glass back and quarters; $90.00. James Goold Co., Albany. N. Y.

The dissolutions column of the business section of the September 13, 1913 issue of the New York Times:

“James Goold Company of Albany, incorporated Feb. 17, 1883, with $50,000 capital. William D. Goold, president; Ernest M. Goold, Assistant Secretary.”

10-30-1913 The Automobile:

It was stated that the James Goold Co., Albany, N. Y., was agent for the Stegeman truck. This was an error.

December 1913 Carriage Monthly:

“Reorganization of a Famous Carriage Company

Announcement has been made that the old-established firm of James Goold & Co., Albany, N. Y., established in 1813 (just one hundred years ago), is about to pass out of existence as a carriage building enterprise. The company will, however, immediately be reorganized in order to manufacture automobile bodies.

“With the announcement that the firm is about to take up the making of the more modern vehicle, comes the further announcement that it will make a present to the old Schuyler mansion in Albany of one of the most ancient and interesting of the older type of vehicle, the manufacture of which the company is about to give up.

“This is the old Lafayette coach, which has been the property of the Goold company for many years, formerly the property of General Vischer and used by him to convey Lafayette about the city when the famous French general visited Albany in 1824. Members of the firm declare that now the old Schuyler mansion has come into other than private hands, it will be a fitting place for the historical old coach.

“Everybody in the American carriage trade will regret to see James Goold & Co. go out of the carriage business after an even hundred years of business—a hundred years of history marked by interesting happenings such as rarely occur to business houses, and of activity in various ventures all in the line of their special work, that have helped in the development of this country and of South America as well.

“The ancestors of all the railway and trolley cars in America were produced by James Goold & Co., when they made the coaches for the first railway train that ever ran in the United States, the road on which they were used having been the pioneer line between Albany and Schenectady, N. Y. The illustration at the bottom of this page shows how these primitive railway coaches were constructed.

“The first Goold factory was built in 1813 by the grandfather of the present head of the company on Division Street. There James Goold laid the foundation of the business which has survived him so many years. All went well until 1838, when disaster came in the shape of a fire, which totally destroyed the large factory. Immediately some of the most prominent citizens of Albany set to work and made up a subscription list, and the money thus collected was offered to James Goold with the request that he continue the business, using the money as a loan, but with the understanding that there was to be no stated time for re-payment. It is unnecessary to add that Mr. Goold paid back every cent of the money as soon as he was in a position to do so.

“After the fire a new factory was built at Division and Union Streets, where the warehouse of the Albany Hardware and Iron Co. now stands. There the company remained until they moved in 1891 to their present location in Broadway at the foot of Schuyler Street.

“To realize the romance which has attended the history of the company, it is only necessary to visit the office at Albany, and see the various interesting memorabilia displayed on the walls there. There is a photograph there of one of the street cars made for Valparaiso, Chile, a large, double-deck car, quite modern in its aspect.

“The date upon this picture, which reveals the date of manufacture of the car, is 1867. At that time there were no street cars or railroad cars in South America that were not manufactured by the Goold company.

“There is another photograph of a drawing of one of the railroad coaches made by the company for the South American railroads. The coach was built for Buenos Aires for the Central Argentina Railroad. The date of manufacture was 1864. At that time the Goold company was manufacturing freight cars as well as passenger coaches, and they kept up the business until the latter sixties. At the time they left the field every such car in use on the continent was made by the Goold company.

“Among the interesting relics treasured by the concern is a document containing the specifications for the railway coaches referred to above as being the first made in America.

“Such is a brief glimpse at the romance of an every-day business. Whether in years to come the descendants of the present members of the firm, William D. Goold and his two sons, Ernest M. Goold and Donald B. Goold, will find the same romance in their new line of activity only time can tell. Perhaps in generations to come the most modern automobile chassis of today will be placed in a great storage room and viewed by the persons living then, surrounded by something of the same halo of romance which enfolds the Lafayette coach today. The Carriage Monthly joins the trade in extending its congratulations to the old company on the completion of its centenary in the coach and carriage business, and wishes the newly organized company the best of prosperity in the lines of manufacture that will be followed hereafter.”

Display ad from The Albany and Troy Society Blue Book, pub. 1917:

1916 Distribution and Warehouse Directory


Wm. D. Goold, Prop. Estd. 1813. Investment $75,000.

Transfer of hhg. Freight; heavy haulage; motor service.

Storage of HHG. Rooms; mdse; new autos; implements.

Whses A & B, HHG.; 38,000 sq. ft.; Siding on D&H.

Whse C, autos and vehicles, 9,500 sq. ft. Siding on D&H.

Whse D & H mdse., 33,600 sq. ft. 2/2/16”

February 22, 1938 Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES:

“WILLIAM D. GOOLD, CARRIAGE MAKER; Headed Albany Concern Which Constructed Bodies for First Automobiles - Dies at 83 FIRM BUILT HORSE CARS Coaches for De Witt Clinton, Train Operating Up-State in 1831, Made by Ancestors

“William D. in Goold, head of the carriage making firm which made many of the bodies for the first automobiles, died at his home here yesterday at the age of 83.

“Mr. Goold was a descendant of the owners of the firm which constructed the first railroad cars for the De Witt Clinton, the train which operated between Albany and Schenectady in 1831. In 1850 the Goolds built the first horse-car used in Albany.

“When William D. Goold made plans for an automobile body in 1903, other members of the firm voted down the idea as a ‘fad.’ Later, however, the firm made custom-built bodies for electric-powered automobiles, and some machines with Goold custom-built bodies are still in used in Albany streets. A son, Donald, now operates the business, an automobile repair and storage firm.

“Also surviving are his widow, another son, Ernest M., and two daughters, Mrs. Arthur H. Morrill of Kingston and Mrs. Ernest V. Hoit, wife of the president of the Albany Chamber of Commerce.”

Although the firm advertised it constructed bespoke automobile bodies, little is known of the firm's activity in the field save for a few references made by Ernest M. Goold in the following article which appeared in the February 27, 1951  issue of  the Knickerbocker News (Albany):

“Carriage Plant Bows to Time and Mass Production

“The doors will close tomorrow on one of Albany's oldest and most romantic businesses - one that a 100 years ago built stagecoaches and railroad cars for the great westward movement.

“Ernest M. Goold, 66, of 187 S. Main Ave., last of the Goold carriagemakers, will end 138 years of the Goold Company's business when he closes his automobile body repair shop at 81 N. Lake Ave.

“The firm, which once employed 100 workers to make carriages, straight-runner sleighs and horsecars in a riverfront plant, has let its recent force of eight men go. They all have other jobs, said Mr. Goold. He said he has found the work 'too confining' and plans to go into another business. William N. Nichols, 51 O'Connell St., shop superintendent who has been with the Goold Company 49 years, is going into the insurance business.

“He noted also that the competition of automobile dealers who have their own body repair shops was a factor in the decision to end - not sell - the business. This recalled the way the mass production auto industry once affected the Goold Company's special auto body manufacture, and how the railroad industry's growth overwhelmed the Goold manufacture of railroad passenger cars, including the first to run in 1831.

“‘The last really creative job we did in the special body field,’ said Mr. Goold, ‘was making buses such as that for the old Ten Eyck Hotel. They used it to meet guests at the steamship wharves and the railroad station.’

“But Mr. Goold said the business, which supported the Goold family since 1813, had not failed.

“James Goold, the founder, came from Pittsfield, Mass., in 1810, with a certification of his ‘more than common Mechanical Genius and ... Sobriety and Strict Integrity,’ signed by Stephen Van Rensselaer, for whom he built a fine old carriage, and two other prominent men. In 1813 he set up a chaise-making shop at Liberty and Union Sts. When fire destroyed the plant in 1837, many prominent Albany men subscribed to a loan to put the business back on its feet.

“In 1831 the company built the two passenger coach bodies on the first steam passenger train in this country - the DeWitt Clinton, which made its historic journey from Albany to Schenectady on the old Mohawk & Hudson Railroad that year.

“In 1850 the company built the first horsecar used in Albany, and later shipped many of them to South America. Later it sent railroad cars there.

“At about this time the company moved into a larger plant in Broadway, which could be seen as one of Albany's most imposing industrial structures by passengers coming up the Hudson on paddlewheel steamboats. Mr. Goold recalled those were the days of manufacturing the Goold-patented straight-runner sleighs.

“About 1903 William D. Goold completed plans for an automobile, but directors of the firm voted them down, calling automobiles ‘just a fad.’ But William Goold, father of Earnest, later made special bodies for the cars of some wealthy Albany families, including those of Parker Corning and James Fennimore Cooper, lawyer descendant of the novelist.

“‘They were very modern and up-to-date’ jobs, said Ernest Goold. Many of the bodies were for old steamers and the old one-lung (cylinder) Oldsmobile.’

“Ernest Goold said the array of company documents on the shop's walls will be taken into his home and that of his daughter. Mrs. Albert Hessberg. They soon may be exhibited at the Albany Institute of History and Art, he said. He said the shop building has been sold to Joseph Miller, who operates a grocery next door.”

Goold’s 75 Broadway factory was located on the east side of Broadway in the vacant lot that sits between the offices of Adirondack Trailways to the south and U-Haul Moving & Storage of Albany to the north. The massive structures were located on the west bank of the Hudson River just east of Interstate 787. Ernest Goold’s body shop at 81 N. Lake Ave. remains standing today, although it’s been converted into a small office/storefront.

© 2013 Mark Theobald for

Appendix One - US Patents

US Pat. No. 27427 - Wheel and dress guard for carriages - ‎Issued Mar 13, 1860 to Walter R. Bush

US Pat. No. D6268 – Improvement in design for sleigh bodies - ‎Issued Nov 19, 1872 to John C. Goold

US Pat. No. D6410 - Design for Landau sleighs - ‎Issued Feb 11, 1873 to John C. Goold

US Pat. No. 169634 – Improvement in Carriage Tops - ‎Filed Sep 13, 1875 - ‎Issued Nov 9, 1875 to John C. Goold

US Pat. No. D8998 - Design for side windows of coaches - ‎Filed Nov 19, 1875 - ‎Issued Feb 15, 1876 to John C. Goold

US Pat. No. 184367 - Improvement in vehicle springs - ‎Filed Oct 16, 1876 - ‎Issued Nov 14, 1876 to John C. Goold

US Pat. No. 198376 – Improvement in thill couplings - Grant - ‎Filed Aug 16, 1877 - ‎Issued Dec 18, 1877 to John C. Goold

US Pat. No. D13541 – Design for a Landau sleigh - ‎Filed Oct 20, 1882 - ‎Issued Jan 23, 1883 to John C. Goold

US Pat. No. 277565 – Sliding window for coaches - ‎Filed Feb 23, 1883 - ‎Issued May 15, 1883 to John C. Goold

US Pat. No. 696233 – Emergency brake for horseless carriages - ‎Filed Oct 22, 1901 - ‎Issued Mar 25, 1902 to William D. Goold







Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark - Standard Catalog of American Cars: 1805-1942

James Terry White - The National Cyclopaedia of American biography, pub. 1922

Roscoe Platt Conkling, Margaret Badenoch Conkling -The Butterfield Overland Mail, 1857-1869 (3 vol-set):  Vol. 2, pub. 1947

George Rogers Howell & Jonathan Tenney - Bi-centennial History of Albany: History of the County of Albany from 1609 to 1886, pub. 1886 

Alexander Lovett Stimson - History of Express Companies and American Railroads, pub. 1859

Waterman L. Ormsby – The Buttterfield Overland Mail (collection of articles that originally appeared in the New York Herald), pub. 1954

Leroy R. Hafen – Overland Mail: 1849-1869, pub. 1926

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