James C. Flood was born in New York city. He received only a plain common school education, but has succeeded, not from a lack of education but in spite of that lack. He passed through the usual routine of boys placed in moderate circumstances, until the year 1849, being past his majority, he sailed in the good ship “Elizabeth,” around the “Horn,” arriving in a strange land without money or friends, but he had brains, and they were reinforced by a surprising allowance of will-power.
He drifted from one thing to another, kept a restaurant, and finally in 1854 loomed up as senior partner in the firm of Flood & O’Brien, who were soon deep in “Old Kentuck,” seeking the treasures which they found in great quantities, and finally when they took hold of the “Hale & Norcross” mine, it made them the first bonanza kings America ever knew.
He next projects the Nevada Bank and makes the call for over five millions of dollars which leads to the suspension of the Bank of California, as the indiscrete placing of its resources leaves that bank in a weak position to withstand so sudden a drain, and was therefore indirectly the cause, as most people think, of its beloved President’s death. Mr. Flood desired to place this Nevada Bank upon so firm a foundation that neither the indiscretion of speculators or the ebb and flow of mercantile life could overthrow it. How well this has been accomplished can be seen from the fact, that it has a capital of nearly fifteen million dollars, and numbers among its directors, such bonanza kings as James C. Flood, John W. MacKay and James G. Fair, whose private fortunes combined represent over $100,000,000, to say nothing of other wealthy directors. This bank asserts that it has special facilities for handling bullion, and we should think quite likely it has. Something of the condition of the private finances of Mr. Flood can be ascertained. If one takes the trouble to look over the assessment roll he will find the following: “James C. Flood, 6,000 shares, Nevada Bank stock, $1,200,000; 12,000 shares, Pacific Mill & Mining Co., $4,000,000; 250 shares, Pacific Wood, Lumber & Flume Co., $30,000; 1,000 shares, San Francisco Gaslight stock, $90,000; 937 shares of Golden City Chemical Works, $20,000; 3,000 shares of Virginia & Gold-Hill Water Co., $300,000; 47½ shares of Giant Powder Co., $60,000; 649½ shares Atlantic Giant Powder Co., $30,000; 35,000 shares Ophir Mine stock, $1,000,000,” and he is assessed for $250,000 in money. Then comes J. C. Flood & Co. “Controlling interest in stock of Yellow Jacket, Union Consolidated, Scorpion, Savage, Ophir, Occidental, Hale & Norcross, Gould & Curry, Consolidated Virginia, Best & Belcher and other mining companies, $10,000,000; money $500,000.” In all it is quite a fortune for a poor boy to find, but it must be remembered that Mr. Flood had much with which to contend, and that nine men out of ten might have passed over the same ground and found nothing. Industry is what wins, and J. C. Flood is no exception to the rule. In a recent law suit Mr. Flood displayed a most peculiar memory, or rather a most remarkable lack of memory. We take the following facts from an editorial on the subject:
“A certain man sued Mr. Flood to recover about $26,000,000, the alleged value of certain ‘tailings’ on some of the mines. Mr. Flood did not know what company milled the ore of the Consolidated Virginia; did not remember who was President of the company at the time; he might have been; could not say for certain however; did not know where the crude bullion from his own mines was sent to be melted into bars; could not tell how much was worked, nor anything about it. He did not remember who was treasurer of the mill company; he might have been, might now be, but could not tell for certain.”
Mr. Flood owns one of the finest mansions, for a private residence, in the whole world. It cost one million, and is a magnificent building in any sense.
Few men surpass him in either getting or keeping money.