CHAPTER VI

THE RECEIVERSHIP OF THE
KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN

   The Port Arthur fight crippled the road and gave us a floating debt of five hundred thousand dollars, but in Holland we had a friend who represented us, on eof the most unselfish men I ever met.  His whole aim in life was to watch the stockholders' interests.  He bought nearly all of this floating debt.

   We needed thousands of new cars, but had not the credit to buy them  The grain was moving south in train-load lots.  I had closed a contract with a large Chicago house for two ship loads of sisal per month, and this we used to load the grain cars north.  The business of the mills and the grain business was so large that we were threatened with suits because we could not get cars to move it.

   Never had a new road jumped into greater business.  The need of new cars was very urgent, and I talked it over with George M. Pullman, one of God's noblemen and one of the best friends of my life.  We telegraphed each other every day.  He had been a friend of my grandfather, who started him in business.  He said, "Well, Arthur, you must have more cars.  Next week Mr. Calif, my auditor, and I will go over the road with you."  They did, and Mr. Pullman at once saw its great business advantages.  He would not talk of any plan, but requested me to have all the directors of our road at the Lawyers' Club, New York City, two weeks later.  We met, as requested, and after lunch Mr. Pullman spoke very feelingly of my grandfather's friendship for him.  He recounted my grandfather's work in New York state, told about his starting Mr. Pullman in business, and said:  "My friendship for your president, my desire to help the grandson of my good friend, leads me to do something that I know would not be called a good business arrangement.  I have just been over your road with my auditor, Mr. Calif.  I see its great business advantages.  I recognize its need of additional equipment.  I understand the burden the Port Arthur fight has been, and out of gratitude for the start Hamlin Stilwell gave me, and out of friendship for his grandson, I will furnish the company two million dollars for equipment -- notes with no cash payment, and only interest the first five years.  The Pullman Company can build part of these, the rest Mr. Stilwell can order elsewhere."

   Well, such help I had never hoped for.  It was the deliverance of my great road.  Tears of gratitude came to my eyes and all the directors, I think, felt as I did.  What a relief from a great burden.  The fight of Kountz was forgotten in the presence of such great kindness.

   I at once gave the orders for the cars and locomotives needed, and a few weeks later Mr. Pullman telegraphed me to come to Chicago and he would assume the contract.  I trolled up the contracts and started for Chicago.  Al that night I could scarcely sleep, thinking of the kindness of this great man.  I was up early with my precious roll of contracts.  I stood at the door of the car so I could be the first one out.  And then I heard the newsboys calling out, "Extra!  Extra!  Full account of the death of George M. Pullman!"  Words here are useless.  I cannot picture my feelings.  I loved him as if he had been my father.  My contracts slipped to the ground.  I reeled, but in some way managed to reach Mr. Weeks' office, and that is all I remember of that awful day.  My great benefactor was gone;  America had lost one of its greatest men.  In my hands were contracts for millions, and I had not the scratch of a pen.

   In a few days I reached Philadelphia and called around me our directors and leading stockholders.  We agreed that the only way to get the two million dollars needed was to get the bondholders to turn back twenty-five percent of their bonds and take fifty per cent of preferred stock.  This would give us the needed money from the bond sales, and put the company in good financial shape.  All at the meeting agreed to this, and Mr. Welch, Mr. Stotesbury and one or tow other stockholders with Mr. deGeoijen and myself were appointed to act as a reorganization committee with no fees.  As Mr. deGeoijen had placed all the bonds that were held in Europe, we were positive this could soon be done without a receiver.  All the stockholders present were more than pleased with the plan for the refinancing of the road, and we felt sure that when Mr. deGeoijen arrived, the new securities could be issued within a few weeks, and everything brought to a successful conclusion.

 

Arthur Edward Stilwell, Visionary

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