Document signed by John Taylor Johnston, John Isley Blair and Geo. D. PhelpsInv# AU1339
Articles of Agreement between Central Rail Road Company of New Jersey, Warren Rail Road Company and the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Rail Road Company signed by John Taylor Johnston, John Insley Blair and Geo. D. Phelps. More research needed on Phelps.
John Taylor Johnston (April 8, 1820 – March 24, 1893) was an American businessman and patron of the arts. He served as President of the Central Railroad of New Jersey and was one of the founders of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. After being admitted to the bar in 1843, Johnston practiced law until 1848, when he was named president of the Somerville and Easton Railroad (later the Central Railroad of New Jersey), a position he would retain until 1877. He was the driving force behind the company's acquisition of the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad, and also endeavored to develop the suburbs of central New Jersey through which his railroads passed. According to his obituary, "[h]is expenditures to secure low grades and good alignment to avoid grade crossings were far in advance of the railroad science of his time and were ridiculed by some of his competitors." Johnston was the founding president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1870. Together with William Tilden Blodgett, he financed the initial "1871 purchase" of 174 paintings for the museum. He held this position until ill health forced him to retire in 1889, at which point he was succeeded by Henry Gurdon Marquand and the Museum's Trustees voted him Honorary President for Life. He was also a patron to living American artists and was an avid collector, including many French academic paintings. His personal art collection in his Fifth Avenue mansion, which included works by Frederic Edwin Church, Thomas Cole, Asher Brown Durand, John Frederick Kensett, and Winslow Homer. In addition to his patronage of the arts, Johnston served as President of the Governing Board of the University of the City of New York, and as a member of the boards of the Presbyterian Hospital, the Woman's Hospital of New York, and the Saint Andrew's Society. He was also a member of the Century Association, and a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History and the National Academy of Design.
John Insley Blair (August 22, 1802 – December 2, 1899) was an American entrepreneur, railroad magnate, philanthropist and one of the 19th century's wealthiest men. As a youth, Blair displayed a keen interest in the acquisition of wealth. At the age of ten, he is reported to have told his mother, "I have seven brothers and three sisters. That's enough in the family to be educated. I am going to get rich." The young Blair began earning money by trapping wild rabbits and muskrats and selling their skins at a price of sixteen for a dollar. The next year, Blair began working at a general store owned by his cousin John, and at the age of seventeen he founded a store of his own with his cousin as an equal partner, located in the community of Butt's Bridge, New Jersey. On August 25, 1825, the name of the community was changed to Gravel Hill and Blair was appointed postmaster, a position he retained until July, 1851. Blair bought out his cousin's share of their store and expanded operations. By 1830, he owned five stores, each one run by one of his brothers. On January 23, 1839, Gravel Hill was officially renamed Blairstown, New Jersey (2000 Population of 5,747) in Blair's honor. Blair, either outright or jointly with others, owned Lackawanna Coal and Iron Company (1846), Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (1852), Union Pacific Railroad (1860), and was president, director, or joint in more than 20 others. He established Blair, Nebraska by purchasing a 1,075-acre (4.35 km2) tract of land in Nebraska on May 10, 1869 after the Sioux City and Pacific Rail Road chose to cross the Missouri river at that location. Blair managed his multimillion-dollar businesses from rural Blairstown, New Jersey, or from his private rail car upon which it was common for him to log 40,000 miles (64,000 km) annually. As president of 16 railroad companies, he amassed a fortune estimated at $70 million. Blair was the largest owner of rail mileage in the world. His religion as a Presbyterian and penchant for philanthropy led him to found more than 100 churches in close proximity to his railroads. In 1873, he was also an investor in the Green Bay and Minnesota Railroad, and the namesake of Blair, Wisconsin.