"They want to take away from people their belief in God and make man a law unto himself, doing what he thinks will make for his own individual happiness. What kind of country would we have if this were done?" So last week spoke a New York lady whom everyone knew to be as good as she is rich. She was flaying that horrid bogey, ATHEISM. If there was any apparent incongruity in her denunciation of a "law-unto-oneself." it was because she was Mrs. Helen Gould Shepard, favorite daughter of that prodigious, puny, black-bearded buccaneer, the late Jay Gould, who made a fortune, knew no law. But there was no incongruity.
When Jay Gould precipitated the famed "Black Friday" of 1869, Helen Gould was a small tot of a year and a half. It was not until 1913 that she married Railman Finley Johnson Shepard. In the 45 years of her spinsterhood—she was plain, plump, not much concerned with "Society"—she dedicated herself to good works while her brothers and sister went out in the world. She scarcely approved of Sister Anna, who spent much money, married successively Count Boniface ("Boni") de Castellane and the Due de Talleyrand; or smart Brother Frank Jay twice-divorced, who dabbled (and still does) in French gambling palaces; or her late Brother George Jay, whose second wife (Guinevere Sinclair) bore him three children before he married her in 1921. Helen Gould stayed by her father, who trained her in finance, took her in his confidence before he died of tuberculosis in 1892.
In succeeding years Helen Gould endeavored to better her father's reputation. This was difficult; but her almost angelic piety, against the crass background of rich Manhattan 20 years ago, almost accomplished it. Today Mrs. Shepard has only a few millions. She has given away many: to hospitals, to educational institutions, to the New York Hall of Fame, to Spanish-American and World War funds. Every week, applications for money come in to her busy secretaries. Simply, almost dowdily dressed, Mrs. Shepard goes out seldom socially (and then in an outmoded automobile) and occupies herself with what may be called the D. A. R. period of her life.
Some ten years ago Mrs. Shepard began campaigning against Bolshevism and Communism. Well-beloved by members of her generation, she is now vice president of the Daughters of the American Revolution, member of the Colonial Dames of America. She may go to Yonkers to speak to Sunday School officials, or to White Plains for a political rally. Last November she canceled an engagement to speak in Albany, retired to her country house. It was reported that she had received threatening messages from "Reds." Last week she addressed a meeting in Manhattan of the American McAll Association, affiliate of La Mission Populaire Evangelique de France, a Protestant mission group. Headlined the New York Times: MRS. SHEPARD LISTS DANGERS TO YOUTH. Said she: