Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gillmore Goodland: A Fourth Look

After returning to England on 30 November 1912, the transoceanic travels of Mr. & Mrs. Gillmore Goodland, Esq., were put on hold. Ekaterinberg, Siberia, was on Gillmore's metaphorical plate [it was recorded as an address of his in a 1913 listing of the Fellows of the London Zoological Society; the Reptile House is seen, left], so he still may not have been spending much quality time at home with the wife and kids.

Would his wife, Kathleen, have accompanied him into Russia during his time there? Possibly. I'm not sure if spending time in Ekaterinberg would have been as big an attraction as, say, a winter in subtropical Mexico, an autumn in Jamaica, or a stay at an opulent hotel in New York or Boston at any time of the year. Czar Nicholas II and his deposed royal family, however, were at Ipatiev House [below, right] in Ekaterinberg (in which they were executed), so the city must have had something going for it besides the borscht. Still, I'm not sure what appeal six months in isolated Batopilas just before the Pancho Villa era would have had, either.

By 1914, the couple's children would have been older: Kathleen, 14; Joan; 13; and young Desmond (Gillmore) 3-going-on-4. Mother Kathleen would have been about 37, and Gillmore himself 43. They were settled in Surrey at Hovingshaw, Woldingham, an upscale suburb in Surrey, just a short rail commute from Victoria in London. Still over a decade from the Great Depression, life presumably would have been fine for the affluent Goodlands. Would they—could they—finally settle down from a life of international travel and spend time with those children?

In the Gazettes, however, there arose a word with which Gillmore had begun to familiarize himself back in 1905: Bankruptcy.

On 17 August 1914, the Edinburgh Gazette featured the following item:

"RECEIVING ORDERS. Gillmore Goodland, late of Hoving Shaw, Woldingham, Surrey, but whose present residence and place of business the petitioning creditors are unable to ascertain."

The date of filing petitions against Goodland was 6 February 1914, and by the date above, Gillmore was nowhere to be found. (If I were a wagering man, I think the smart money would have been on Wales.)

Gillmore Goodland, of course, had a highly regarded barrister on his side—his brother, Joshua, recently out of Cambridge with a Master's Degree in Law that may largely have been paid for by Gillmore. Joshua Goodland's practice, situated on King's Bench Walk near the Temple was adjacent to those of many of London's most renowned legal minds.

Given Gillmore's sudden disappearance, how much Joshua could have done for him was apparently along the lines of: Not much.

Gillmore was likely compensated with stock in Batopilas Mining, Smelting and Refining Co., Ltd., at least in part, for services rendered as a mining consultant. If a bankruptcy of the corporation had occurred, would I have been wrong to believe that his stock would have been worthless, precipitating a personal financial collapse?

Yes, I would have. That was clearly not the case. My original assumption of the downfall of the company was completely incorrect.

An item from a 1915 edition of the Standard Corporation Service (Daily Revised) read:

"BATOPILAS MINING CO.: Operations in Mexico to Be Resumed.—On Aug. 28 1914, Secretary [Edgar W.A.] Jorgensen announced that the company's staff of Americans had left El Paso en route to the mines at Batopilas, Mexico [pictured, right], in charge of John R. Harbottle, who was appointed General Manager. More active operations will now be carried on, although the business has been operated on a small scale under two of its most trusted Mexican employees since the former American staff left the mines in September, 1913, on receipt of President [Woodrow] Wilson's warning for all Americans to leave the country."

Not only had the parent Batopilas corporation not bankrupted, it hadn't even fully shut down operations during that violent time!

Here's what a website called had to say about President Woodrow Wilson of the United States and 1913's Mexican crisis:

"In 1913, Mexico fell into a bloody revolution when Mexican general Victoriano Huerta overthrew the nation's government and declared himself its military dictator. Wilson immediately denounced Huerta, declaring that the United States could not and should not recognize violent dictators who seized government in pursuit of their own agendas. The President attempted to initiate peaceful negotiations between Huerta and the usurped government, but both sides refused to submit to his proposal. Unsure how to proceed, Wilson permitted Huerta's enemies, the Constitutionalists, to purchase military equipment and arms in the U.S. in order to stage a counterrevolution.

When the dictator's army seized a small group of American sailors on shore leave in Mexico, Wilson demanded an apology. He also demanded that Huerta publicly salute the American flag in Mexico, which Huerta naturally refused to do. Wilson responded with force: in April 1914, he sent American Marines to take and occupy Veracruz, Mexico's primary seaport. Veracruz was taken, but eighteen Americans were killed in the battle. Not wanting to commit the U.S. to war, Wilson also requested the ABC powers–Argentina, Brazil, and Chile–to mediate the dispute. With their arbitration, the conflict was eventually resolved. Huerta fled the country, and a new government was established in 1915 under the leadership of Constitutionalist President Venustiano Carranza."

The Batopilas Mining, Smelting and Refing Co., Ltd., had been registered on 3 August 1909 and its London offices, and Gillmore Goodland's personal office as a free lance consulting engineer, were one and the same: 17, Gracechurch Street, London, E.C. Goodland was a Board Member, meaning he owned at least 100 shares of stock.

According to the 1912 edition of The Mexican Yearbook, as of 19 December 1911, the parent company, Batopilas Mining Co. of New York, had shown a profit of £3834 that year, and had £36,051 in cash at bankers, and £2443 in outstanding debts. Estimated operating expenses were £9000 a year, so it seems that the company should have been able to weather the storm of about a year operating on a skeleton crew from September 1913 to August 1914.

In 1912, Goodland is also listed as the Batopilas Mining Company's official "General Manager," according to that year's The Manual of Statistics: Stock Exchange Hand-book, Volume 34. His address in that text is given as "Batopilas, Mex." The rest of the board has New York adresses.

In Moody's Analyses of Earnings, Part 2 (1916), under an entry for the American-owned Batopilas Mining Company, it reads: "On March 10, 1914, the Batopilas Mining, Smelting and Refining Co., Ltd., of London, England (a company incorporated under the English Companies Act of 1908, with an authorized capital of £300,000 and controlled by the Batopilas Mining Co.) was dissolved [by liquidation]."

The same entry also lists the company's surplus (in Mexican currency) after each of the years ending 31 December: $160,093 in 1912, $120,137 in 1913, and $21,112 in 1914. Apparently, liquidation of the London part of the firm was seen as necessary, despite the surpluses, given the circumstances. It's doubtful that Gillmore agreed.

I'm no accountant, but the article delineates the assets and liabilities of the company in each of those three years as well, and in each one (1912 – 1914) both numbers are identical to the penny. Is that likley, or just smart bookkeeping?

I am also unsure if or how how any stock dividends may have been paid by the London Batopilas company, but Batopilas of New York City [pictured, left], as of 1916, had not paid investors a dividend since 1907—before the creation of the London company.

Now, am I correct in assuming that a liquidation of the London Batopilas company would not necessarily have made Gillmore Goodland unfit to be kept on as General Manager? I assume he could easily have been retained.

But would I be wrong in thinking that, when Batopilas of New York decided it needed a new General Manager after the initial phase of the Mexican Revolution in 1914, it may have been that Gillmore was not looked kindly upon due to his personal bankruptcy, his disappearance to avoid creditors, and the fact that he already had been jailed once in Batopilas because of a conflict with a local white collar employee?

Or could it be that, since Mexico was in a period of civil unrest and Civil War, Goodland had resigned as General Manager?

No matter, he was not named the new G.M., and he was apparently in serious trouble.

Via the Gazettes, we know creditors didn't know his whereabouts, and a 1915 issue of a journal called the Bulletin of the American Institute of Mining Engineers published a brief item trying to locate him as well: "Gillmore Goodland. There is held at this office considerable mail matter addressed to Mr. Goodland from London, England, and we would be pleased to get in touch with him and ascertain what to do with this mail."

To where had Goodland disappeared, and who went with him?

I suppose at the time—and perhaps even today—it might be wise to put an ocean or two between one's creditors and oneself, and that's exactly what Gillmore did.

On 17 July 1915, Goodland sailed out of Liverpool on the S.S. Philadelphia [left] and into New York on 25 July. On that manifest, his address is listed as "Hovingshaw, Woldingham," with his wife, "Mrs. K. Goodland" still in residence.

Interestingly, Gillmore's final destination is listed as "New York, N.Y.," specifically the "Hotel Belmont, 42nd Street, New York." Bankruptcy proceedings apparently did nothing to change Gillmore's tastes. He eschewed other destinations on the manifest such as the Richmond Hotel and the Hotel St. James.

What’s particularly interesting here is Gillmore's claim that his last visit to the United States had been in "1913." There is simply no record of him entering the United States during that year. Again, is this just a minor error, or has Goodland established a pattern of providing a variety of different information on immigration forms when entering the U.S.?

And could the fact that he had not actually been to Batopilas in a couple of years and was not what Americans would call a "hands on" manager?

Perhaps it was the rich mining areas of Mexico calling him to him once more, revolution or no; perhaps it was simply to escape creditors; nevertheless, Goodland was heading to the luxurious Hotel Belmont again.

This time he was alone.

Despite Goodland's ability to stay at the posh Belmont after his voyage, it seems probable that his family would have been unable to stay at Hovingshaw in Woldingham in perpetuity if this 1915 trip bore no fruit. What would happen next?

Gillmore, a "civil engineer" according to the manifest of the Philadelphia, was again in comfortable surroundings, perhaps ones in which he could repair the damage done to his life and career. Perhaps he was on his way to the New York offices of Batopilas Mining Company to make a plea for a job, or even to delineate exactly how he could help them turn even more of a profit in the future, now that the corporation found its surplus diminishing.

Could he manage it? He had clearly missed the annual board meeting held the third Tuesday of each April in the offices at 45 Broadway in New York City. He'd have to hope for good luck.

So would the rest of the world…

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