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E. H. Harriman transferred Sterling Iron and Railway Co. - Stock Certificate

Inv# AG1305   Stock
E. H. Harriman transferred Sterling Iron and Railway Co. - Stock Certificate
State(s): New York
Years: 1892

This 1892 stock is transferred to Harriman but not signed. Superb graphics by American Bank Note Co., NY. Very Rare!

Edward Henry Harriman (1848-1909), Railroad Executive, Capitalist. Son of an Episcopal clergyman. A Wall St. office-boy at fourteen, he bought a seat on the N.Y. stock exchange seven years later. Also involved in banks and insurance companies, he owned a steamship line to the Orient. 

Harriman was born on February 20, 1848, in Hempstead, New York, the son of Orlando Harriman, Sr., an Episcopal clergyman, and Cornelia Neilson. He had a brother, Orlando Harriman, Jr. His great-grandfather, William Harriman, had emigrated from England in 1795 and became a successful businessman and trader.

As a young boy, Harriman spent a summer working at the Greenwood Iron Furnace in the area owned by the Robert Parker Parrott family that would become Harriman State Park. He quit school at age 14 to take a job as an errand boy on Wall Street in New York City. His uncle Oliver Harriman had earlier established a career there. By age 22, he was a member of the New York Stock Exchange.

Harriman's father-in-law was president of the Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain Railroad Company, which aroused Harriman's interest in upstate New York transportation. In 1881, at age 33, Harriman acquired the small, broken-down Lake Ontario Southern Railroad. He renamed it the Sodus Bay & Southern, reorganized it, and sold it to the Pennsylvania Railroad at a considerable profit. This was the start of his career as a rebuilder of bankrupt railroads.

Harriman was nearly 50 years old when in 1897 he became a director of the Union Pacific Railroad. By May 1898, he was chairman of the executive committee, and from that time until his death, his word was the law on the Union Pacific system. In 1903, he assumed the office of president of the company. From 1901 to 1909, Harriman was also the president of the Southern Pacific Railroad. The vision of a unified UP/SP railroad was planted with Harriman. (The UP and SP were reunited on September 11, 1996, a month after the Surface Transportation Board approved their merger.)

At the time of his death Harriman controlled the Union Pacific, the Southern Pacific, the Saint Joseph and Grand Island, the Illinois Central, the Central of Georgia, the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and the Wells Fargo Express Company. Estimates of his estate ranged from $150 million to $200 million. That fortune was left entirely to his wife.

In 1899, Harriman sponsored and accompanied a scientific expedition to catalog the flora and fauna of the Alaska coastline. Many prominent scientists and naturalists went on the expedition, aboard the luxuriously refitted 250-foot (76 m) steamer SS George W. Elder.

Harriman became interested in ju-jitsu after his two-month visit to Japan in 1905. When he returned to America, he brought with him a troupe of six Japanese ju-jitsu wrestlers, including the prominent judokas Tsunejiro Tomita and Mitsuyo Maeda. Among many performances, the troupe gave an exhibition that drew some 600 spectators in the Columbia University gymnasium on February 7, 1905.

In 1879, Harriman married Mary Williamson Averell, daughter of William J. Averell, a banker in Ogdensburg, New York. Together they had six children:

Harriman died on September 9, 1909, at his home, Arden, at 1:30 p.m. at age 61. Naturalist John Muir, who had joined him on the 1899 Alaska expedition, wrote in his eulogy of Harriman, "In almost every way, he was a man to admire." Harriman was buried at the St. John's Episcopal Church cemetery in the hamlet of Arden, near his estate.

In 1885, Harriman acquired "Arden", the 7,863-acre (31.82 km2) Parrott family estate in the Ramapo Highlands near Tuxedo, New York, for $52,500. The property had been a source of charcoal for the Parrott Brothers Iron Works. Over the next several years he purchased almost 40 nearby parcels of land, adding 20,000 acres (81 km2), and connected all of them with 40 miles (64 km) of bridle paths. His 100,000 sq ft (9,300 m2) residence, Arden House, was completed just seven months before he died.

In the early 1900s, his sons W. Averell Harriman and E. Roland Harriman hired landscape architect Arthur P. Kroll to landscape many acres. In 1910, his widow donated 10,000 acres (40 km2) to the state of New York for Harriman State Park. The estate was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.


  • In 1913, his widow created the E. H. Harriman Award to recognize outstanding achievements in railway safety. The award has been presented on an annual basis since then.
  • Stephen Birmingham writes in the book Our Crowd that "Ned" Harriman was considered one of the most disagreeable men of his period. The book quotes James Stillman of the National City Bank calling him "not a safe man to do business with, yet the Illinois Central run by Harriman was one of the best-run and most profitable in the country."


Places built using funds donated from his sponsorship or estate

  • Harriman founded the Tompkins Square Boys' Club, now known as The Boys' Club of New York. The original club, founded in 1876, was located in the rented basement of the Wilson School in Manhattan's Lower East Side, and began with three boys. Harriman's idea for the club was to provide a place "for the boys, so as to get them off the streets and teach them better manners." By 1901, the club had outgrown its space. Harriman purchased several lots on 10th and Avenue A, and a five-story clubhouse was completed in 1901.
  • Inheritance taxes from Harriman's estate, in the amount of $798,546 paid by his widow on March 1, 1911, to the State of Utah, helped fund the construction of the state's capital.

Notable quotations

  • "Much good work is lost for the lack of a little more."
  • "Cooperation means 'Do as I say, and do it damn quick.'"

In popular culture

  • Harriman is the topic of a verse in the song "The Yama Yama Man" (1908). Mister Harriman to-day, Thinks he'll have to change his dish. Fridays he says he'll stick to meat, For he's getting sick of "Fish". It concerns the war of succession with Stuyvesant Fish over the Illinois Central Railroad around 1906. He is also mentioned in the 1989 song "Roadside Flowers", by New Jersey indie rock band Winter Hours. The line states "This is Mister Harriman, he built his stakes on railroad blood."
  • Harriman is mentioned in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), as the commercial baron whose agents become the title characters' nemeses. In the film's second train robbery, a railroad employee ascribes his refusal to cooperate with the robbery to his obligations to Harriman personally, and one of Butch and Sundance's intimates describes Harriman's hiring of famed outlaw-hunters to track down the gang's leaders.
  • In the movie The Wild Bunch (1969), a railroad official named "Harrigan" takes the same strategy.
  • Harriman is a playable character in the video game series Railroad Tycoon.

The Sterling Iron and Railway Company, which was situated in Ramapo (Rockland County), New York, operated under various names from 1736 until 1923.  Early records indicate the original name of the firm was Sterling Forge and Furnace Company.   This company can trace its history back to 1736 when Cornelius Board and Timothy Ward obtained 150 acres of the Sterling tract and built a bloomery and forge, turning out the first iron made at Sterling. Four years later, Board sold his interest in Sterling to Ward. Following this transaction, the ownership of the ironworks seems to have been shared by a number of individuals, including William Smith, James Burling, William Hawxhurst, and Abel Noble.

The 1760s saw a period of expansion at the ironworks with such products as pig and bar iron, cart, wagon and chair spindles, anchors, teakettles, skillets, pots, refined iron, and potash being produced. Just who the actual owners were during this period of expansion is not clear.

The first furnace at Sterling had been erected in 1751 and a year later, Abel Noble and his father, William, had constructed a forge near the furnace, producing their first anchors in 1753. In October 1758 William Hawxhurst and Abel Noble signed articles of co-partnership regarding the manufacturing of iron at Sterling and most likely Noble and Hawxhurst had a financial interest in the company. It was also around this time that the first of the Townsend family became affiliated with the Sterling Ironworks. Although the exact date of Peter Townsend’s association with Sterling is disputed by historians, a ledger page shows that by February 1768 he was in partnership with Abel Noble.

Despite complaints from Peter Townsend regarding the shortage of working men, Sterling remained a hub of activity during the American Revolution. The ironworks performed a valuable service by providing the Continental Army with arms and ammunition and supplying anchors for Navy warships. Sterling also had a more direct role in the war effort. In February 1778 Peter Townsend agreed to produce an iron chain for the Continental Army. The chain was to be placed across the Hudson River at West Point and was to serve as a barrier to British vessels. The chain was laid in place on April 30, 1778 but remained untested, as the British never did attempt to cross it.

In 1783 Peter Townsend died, leaving his share of the ironworks to his wife Hannah (the daughter of William Hawxhurst) and to their two sons, Peter and Isaac. In 1797, Abel Noble, senior proprietor and part owner, sold his interest to Peter Townsend II, thus giving control of the ironworks, for the most part, to the Townsend family. The Townsends were joined in 1812 by Daniel and William Jackson and Henry McCoun who erected a saw works at Sterling and who attained a part ownership in the ironworks as well. The Sterling Ironworks were granted rights of incorporation by the New York State Legislature on April 1, 1814, and shortly thereafter, Peter Townsend completed construction of a cannon foundry on the Sterling site. The first cannon were produced in 1817 but, in spite of initial success, the foundry proved unprofitable and the federal government probably assumed control.

Little is known about Sterling from 1817 to 1825. It appears that legal difficulties or financial trouble hampered the ironworks as available records for this period deal with Southfield furnace rather than Sterling. The title of a pamphlet published at this time, “Report of the Committee Appointed to Examine the Condition of the Sterling Iron Works,” further hints at some sort of financial or legal tangle.

Business at Sterling continued as usual during the 1830s and 1840s and little of consequence occurred until 1856 when the Townsends decided to sell the ironworks. A nine-page pamphlet entitled “A Map: Showing the Location of the Sterling Iron Estate, Orange County, New York” was published and sent to prominent men in the iron industry. However, no buyer was found and it was not until 1864 that the Townsends were able to sell their iron estate. On April 1, with the aid of David Crawford, Jr., the son-in-law of Peter Townsend III, the property was sold to the Sterling Iron and Railway Company, which had been formed to assume control of the ironworks. Peter Townsend III had substantial interest in the company and he was joined by several prominent men, including Thomas A. Scott, president of the Pennsylvania Railroad and assistant secretary of war during the Civil War, Jay Cooke, the financier, Joel Barlow Morehead, Samuel L.M. Barlow and George C. Clarke. In November 1867 a separate company, the Sterling Mountain Railway Company, was established for the purpose of managing the railroad branch of the company.

From the post-Civil War period until 1890, there is a gap in the Sterling records and not much is known about the ironworks during this time. However, by 1890 it was evident that business had begun to falter and in 1892 there was a reorganization of the company. Macgrane Coxe was named president but the depression of 1892-1896 led to a further decline and frequent changes in the leadership of the company continued. James D. Rowland of Philadelphia succeeded Cox as president and he was followed by Theodore Price in 1905. H.A. Van Alstyne assumed leadership of the company in 1911 and continued in that capacity until 1920.  In 1918, all the holdings of the company were leased to Ramapo Ore Company. There was a brief flurry of activity at Sterling during World War I but it ceased with the war’s end and on July 1, 1923, all operations ceased. (From NYSED.GOV)

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Condition: Excellent

A stock certificate is issued by businesses, usually companies. A stock is part of the permanent finance of a business. Normally, they are never repaid, and the investor can recover his/her money only by selling to another investor. Most stocks, or also called shares, earn dividends, at the business's discretion, depending on how well it has traded. A stockholder or shareholder is a part-owner of the business that issued the stock certificates.

Item ordered may not be exact piece shown. All original and authentic.
Price: $135.00